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In Today's Phoenix: Cicilline on the Hot Seat

I've got a cover story in today's Phoenix on freshman Congressman David Cicilline and his re-election prospects come 2012. He is, without a doubt, looking vulnerable. But not as vulnerable, I argue, as he might appear.

One of the most important factors is going to be the tone and sheer magnitude of the national debate over spending and entitlement programs next year. Barring some unforeseen event - say, a terrorist attack - it will be the big, defining issue in the presidential race and the battle for Congress.

That will give Cicilline's critics an opportunity to tie the national storyline into the local one: Cicilline couldn't manage the Providence budget and he can't manage the federal budget, either. But it will give the Congressman a message at least as potent: the Republicans want to end Medicare as we know it.

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