In it, but not of it. TPM DC

On Monday, Republican operatives seemed to think they had a bonafide gamechanging gaffe on their hands. In a video debunked by Business Insider, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) appeared to endorse one of the widely discredited 9/11 conspiracy theories in 2007. “There’s some evidence that were charges planted in the buildings that brought them down," Udall could be quoted as saying -- if one were to take him completely out of context, which the Insider report showed he had been.

By the end of the day, even conservative news outlets were ripping the attempted opposition research dump, which was given to the news outlet by a "conservative tipster," as bogus.

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As he faces a strong independent challenger, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) is shuffling to his right. He has been deploying more heated rhetoric, invoking the specter of "national socialism" at a campaign event. He has been making calls to tea party leaders to galvanize support, after he nearly lost to one of their own, Milton Wolf, in his primary this year. Sarah Palin has appeared on the stump.

But will it be enough?

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The most notorious moment of Representative Steve King's career was cleverly calculated.

The immigration debate had undergone a sea change in favor of reform, with bipartisan Senate passage of a sweeping bill in the months after Hispanics carried President Obama to a resounding reelection victory. The No. 2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, kept up the pressure on the House by delivering speeches arguing that young undocumented "Dreamers" were some of the finest in society — high school valedictorians, even, who deserved the same opportunities as native-born children.

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Whether they'll admit it or not, Democrats have put all their eggs in Greg Orman's basket. The Kansas independent was polling so well against incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts that the Democratic nominee, Chad Taylor, was pressured to drop out of the race, and the state Democratic party has expressed no interest in filling his slot unless forced to do so by a court.

Democrats are making a bet. Orman has been publicly insistent that he hasn't decided which party to caucus with yet, though Republicans have repeatedly pointed out that he toyed with a 2008 Senate run as a Democrat. "Both Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have been too partisan for far too long to earn my vote for Majority Leader," he says on his website. If no party holds a clear majority and he and the other independents (currently Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont) dictate control of the Senate, Orman says that he will "caucus with the party that is most willing to face our country’s difficult problems head on and advance our problem-solving, non-partisan agenda."

And what exactly are Democrats getting in Orman? A review of his policy statements and known history reveals an interesting mix. His background -- an investor with up to $86 million in private wealth and links to a jailed Wall Street figure -- seems superficially at odds with the message Democrats have been delivering since the economic collapse. But on policy, while Orman is always careful to straddle partisan lines, he seems to come down closer to the Democratic side than the Republican on high-profile issues like health care, guns and immigration.

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