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“I think his view is it’s on the table right now and that he owes it to himself and to Virginia and the party to give it some thought,” said one Democratic strategist familiar with Mr. Kaine’s thinking. “Clearly, he’s thinking about it, and he’s not a definitive ‘no,’ or this would have been done already.”

Democrats see Virginia as a pivotal state in the 2012 election. Mr. Obama won it in 2008, and having a solid Senate candidate on the ballot next year would boost his chances of repeating. The race also could help determine control of the Senate, where Democrats currently hold a 53-47 majority, but have to defend 23 seats in 2012, while Republicans have to defend only 10.


Lawmakers to consider patent reform after recess

The Senate aims to begin consideration next month of a bipartisan bill to revamp the U.S. patent system and reduce the likelihood of what critics see as excessive damage awards, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday.

The Nevada Democrat said he plans to bring the bill to the Senate floor after lawmakers return from a weeklong recess set to start Friday.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, voiced confidence that the measure would win approval, which would send it to the Republican-led House of Representatives for concurrence.

“I feel good about it,” said Mr. Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reported out the measure on a 15-0 vote this month.

The bill would give judges a major role in determining how important a particular patent is to a product, so that infringing minor patents would not lead to huge damages.

The bill also would give a patent to the first inventor to file, rather than the first to invent, making the patent-application process easier for companies that apply for patents in multiple countries.

“We will take that up the week we get back,” Mr. Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill.


Giffords’ friends schedule campaign fundraiser

Congressional friends of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who was shot in Tucson in January, are planning a fundraiser for her 2012 re-election campaign.

Democrats Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida are organizing the March 15 reception in Washington.

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