In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Scott Walker sits with his hands folded at a desk on the set of a public television news program. He glances at the blonde anchorman across from him, then down at his hands, then back at the anchor.

The baby-faced Walker, who's just 24 years old and representing the Wisconsin Republican Party, has spent roughly the last half-hour verbally sparring with former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon and Louisiana state representative David Duke. The Wisconsin residents calling into the program, "Smith & Co," have been berating him, too. Walker is staring down at his hands every other time the camera cuts to him.

The year is 1992 and the topic at hand is whether Duke should be allowed on the Wisconsin presidential primary ballot as a Republican. The anchorman, Joe Smith, asks Walker to predict how the state's bipartisan ballot selection committee will decide.

"I would certainly hope it's gonna be a majority opposed to putting him on the ballot," Walker says, pursing his lips.

Duke's upper body calls out from a TV screen on the wall behind the desk: "Shame on you, Scott Walker, shame on you." He's speaking from New Orleans via satellite.

With his eyes still lowered, Walker shakes his head a little and opens his hands as if to shrug, "Well, what can you do."

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As the Sept. 30 deadline to fund the federal government approaches and conservatives dig in on a fight to defund Planned Parenthood, the White House and Senate Democratic leadership signaled they would be open to a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

From the Senate floor Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that any short-term bill must be "clean."

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A leading conservative lawmaker eager to dethrone House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is ratcheting up the pressure for a shutdown battle over Planned Parenthood that neither Boehner nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) want and are trying desperately to avoid.

“I cannot and will not fund a vile, racist organization who specializes in convincing mothers to kill their children and then selling their baby parts to the highest bidder," Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) said in a written statement to TPM Tuesday. "During the funding debate two years ago, Mitch McConnell finagled a $2.8 billion dam for his home state. And now when it comes to keeping his pro-life campaign promises, I’m pretty certain he still knows how the process works.”

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The plan hatched by the GOP leadership in Congress to appease abortion hardliners and avoid a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding shows little sign of working so far.

Facing a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government, GOP leaders in both chambers decided they would fast-track standalone anti-abortion bills in an effort to allow conservative Republicans to express their anger over a series of “sting” videos claiming to show that Planned Parenthood is illegally harvesting the tissue of aborted fetuses. The leadership hoped that with those votes out of the way, the path would be clear for long-delayed bills to fund the government in the new fiscal year, even if those bills contained money for Planned Parenthood.

But anti-abortion groups and conservative House members are not backing down from their hard line. They are reiterating that they will not vote for bills that include Planned Parenthood funding under any circumstances, despite the maneuvering by leaders to vent their outrage over the videos. If anything, anti-abortion groups are amping up the pressure on lawmakers not to back down from the fight.

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GOP presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had some harsh words for conservatives threatening to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood.

"The president's made it clear he is not going to sign it," Kasich said on Fox News Sunday. "I'm willing to fight all day long, but you've got to have a good prospect of being able to be successful. Because if you're not successful, you shut the government down, you open it up and you haven't achieved anything. You're just going to have people shake their head and wonder what your thinking was."

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As the Sept. 30 deadline to pass a government funding bill gets closer, GOP leadership is scrambling to avoid a possible shutdown over abortion politics.

At a party lunch Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) laid out a plan to Republicans to prioritize a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in the hopes of assuaging conservatives seeking to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood, CNN reported. The calls for defunding the reproductive health organization came after a series of sting videos that anti-abortion activists claim shows Planned Parenthood was profiting from the harvesting of aborted fetal tissue.

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John McAfee wants you to know he’s dead serious about running for President.

You'd be forgiven for being skeptical. McAfee, who describes himself as an “eccentric millionaire,” made a killing in the early ‘90s when he departed from his namesake anti-virus software company. Since 2012, McAfee has mostly made headlines for his action-movie-like exploits in Central America, where he was wanted for questioning (not as a suspect) by Belizean police in the murder of his neighbor. So when his presidential campaign came out of nowhere this week, it felt like a stunt at least in part.

First, TPM obtained a Sept. 7 email in which McAfee announced his intention to run for President. Then he filed his statement of candidacy with the FEC the next day and launched a new website. A campaign announcement video followed Wednesday night. Curiously, the software pioneer didn’t utter the standard, if banal, phrase “I’m running for President” on either the campaign site or in the announcement video.

“It just appears obvious to me,” McAfee told TPM in a Thursday phone interview when asked why he didn’t say those magic words. “But again, what is obvious to me isn’t always obvious to the American public.”

McAfee may become less of an enigma to U.S. voters in the coming weeks during what is sure to be an unconventional campaign. He says he doesn’t plan on hitting the trail or debating any other candidates. What he proposes instead is something of a direct line between candidate and voter, facilitated by the Internet technology he’s mastered over the course of his career, where the American people can follow him and debate him freely over the web.

“I do not intend to go on the campaign trail and shake hands and kiss babies,” he told TPM. “I intend to run a brand new sort of campaign entirely based on wherever I am.”

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of TPM’s conversation with McAfee.

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Now that the legislative battle to stop President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal has failed, conservatives are considering taking the fight to the courtroom.

A federal court ruling Wednesday that found members of Congress had standing to sue the administration over the Affordable Care Act has empowered some Iran deal opponents to suggest lawmakers could also bring a lawsuit against the administration over the Iran deal.

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The House “Tortilla Coast” conservatives have prevailed again.

Rather than move forward with a longstanding plan to vote to disapprove of President Obama’s Iran deal -- an opportunity demanded by congressional Republicans and grudgingly given by the White House -- House GOP leaders have acquiesced to conservatives’ plot to derail a vote on disapproval.

The 11th-hour change in course reflects a last-ditch effort by the conservative wing in the House to show their disgust with a deal they have no practical means of stopping. It came after Democrats had enough votes lined up in the support of the detail to assure that not only would Congress be unable to overturn a presidential veto of a disapproval measure, but that a Senate filibuster would prevent such a measure from ever making it to Obama’s desk in the first place.

The new maneuver is likely to go nowhere in Senate. But in the minds of House conservatives, their new plan sets up a series of votes that are more uncomfortable for Democrats, and make for better GOP political messaging down the road. It also gives the GOP one last chance to voice its collective outrage over the Iran deal, even though that was what the vote of disapproval was supposed to afford them, too.

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