In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is solidifying her support throughout the Democratic Party -- especially after President Obama moved last week to clear the field for her and successfully urged a potential Democratic primary opponent not to get in the race.

Gillibrand's campaign announced today that she's received more endorsements from the New York House delegation, with Reps. John Hall and Michael Arcuri endorsing her, plus newly-elected Congressman Scott Murphy from Gillibrand's old House district. In addition, she's secured the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, which has 23,000 members.

And yet another potential primary opponent, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, has pulled out of the race -- and cited Obama as the reason: "In light of President Obama's clear desire to avoid a Democratic primary in New York State, I have decided to focus on my re-election race for Manhattan Borough President and to suspend my exploratory committee and fund-raising efforts for the 2010 Senate race."

We reported earlier that the Senate voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to strip the funding for the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay from a supplemental war spending bill.

The move has angered many. It comes a day after Senate Democrats announced they would withhold the money until the White House settles on a comprehensive plan for dealing with detainees--and critics on the left are charging that Democratic leaders have caved to Republican scare tactics.

That's certainly part of the story--but a bigger problem, according to several sources, has been the White House's failure, for months, to co-ordinate strategy and messaging on the issue with Congress, where the bulk of opposition to the plan lies.

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Minnesotans expect Gov. Tim Pawlenty to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012, a new Rasmussen poll finds, with 59% of the state's likely voters saying it's either somewhat or very likely that he'll go for it.

Only 29% think it's not very likely or not at all likely, and another 11% are not sure.

However, the state is closely divided on Pawlenty's performance as governor, with 53% approving and 46% disapproving. This shouldn't be too surprising, as Minnesota is very much a Democratic state overall, and Pawlenty and the Dem-dominated legislature have been fighting over the state budget.

Also, only 37% say he is somewhat or very likely to actually win the nomination, with 55% saying it is not very likely or not at all likely. Another 8% were not sure. (Note: At this point in the 2012 cycle, this question does have a correct answer -- and only 8% got it.)

The political watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington has sent a letter to the FEC opposing Norm Coleman's request to use campaign money to pay for his legal costs in connection with the Nasser Kazeminy case.

This involves a lawsuit in Texas where Coleman himself has not been directly accused of wrongdoing, but could be called as a witness, and contains an allegation that a Coleman donor conspired to funnel money to him when he was a Senator. CREW says that Coleman should not be able to use campaign money in this matter -- or at the very least, that he cannot use money from his special recount committee for anything other than the recount and related litigation.

The Minnesota Democrats filed a complaint against Coleman on this very subject a month ago. These sorts of things usually go nowhere quickly, but who knows -- over the long haul, this could perhaps turn into another headache for Coleman to worry about.

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in this year's election for Governor of New Jersey, appeared on Sean Hannity's show Monday night and agreed with governors who reject stimulus money, saying governors should have the ability to decide how to spend it:



"I think it makes sense," said Christie. "If they're going to put strings on that money, that are gonna to tie your hands and make you expand programs, and not be able to have the freedom of choice that the people elected you for, then you shouldn't take the money."

Those Gitmo prisoners don't know just how good they've got it!

At a press conference by Republican Senators opposed to closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) elaborated on what a humane environment Gitmo is: "anyone, any detainee, over 55 has an opportunity to have a colonoscopy."

"Now none of them take 'em up on it, because once they explain what it is, none of them want to do it," Inhofe added. "But nonetheless it's an opportunity that they have."

In a widely expected move, the Senate has voted overwhelmingly to block the $80 million President Obama requested to shut down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The roll call here. The margin was 90-6.

Yesterday, Senate Democratic leaders announced that they wouldn't hand over the money needed to close the facility until Obama releases a comprehensive plan detailing what the administration will do with remaining detainees. We'll have more on the breakdown between Congress and the White House later today.

Tomorrow, Obama will deliver a major national security address in which he is expected to address Guantanamo and a number of other controversial issues.

Congressional Republicans have released an outline of what they call the Patients' Choice Act--their alternative to health care legislation due shortly out of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Committee and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. They will refer to this in the coming weeks as they attempt to defeat Democratic reform efforts, and, at the very least, it's a much more thorough document than was, say, the House GOP's alternative budget, which was mocked loudly all across the capital.

More on the merits later. (As a sneak peak, the PCA, like the Republican budget, includes a predictable scheme to turn Medicare into a boon for private insurers.)

But of course, with Republicans out of power, this plan is mostly meant to serve rhetorical purposes--it's not really a plausible direction for health reform under Democratic rule. If you're looking for some insight into how they plan to attack the forthcoming legislation, though, it's a pretty good primer.

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The Republican establishment is continuing to line up for Gov. Charlie Crist's (R-FL) bid for the open GOP-held Senate seat in Florida, with John McCain now endorsing Crist's candidacy.

Crist was endorsed by the NRSC right after he declared his candidacy, and he has a wide lead right now in the latest poll against his more conservative primary challenger, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio. Crist endorsed McCain shortly before the 2008 Florida primary, in which McCain's win solidified his momentum for the nomination.

"Now more than ever, we need leaders who are committed to lower taxes, limiting government spending, and fighting for the people are needed in Washington," McCain said in the statement -- a bit ironic, in light of Crist's vocal support for the stimulus bill that McCain and the overwhelming majority of Republicans have opposed.

You can't help but get the feeling that Republican donors to Norm Coleman's legal fight really do like the fact that this is preventing the Democrats from seating a 60th Senator.

Greg Sargent reports that Dirk Van Dongen, who heads up the "Team Coleman" group of lobbyists raising money for Norm, said that the group is having some trouble getting more and more money as the donors max out. Van Dongen insists, of course, that the real purpose of this effort is to get Norm Coleman in the Senate.

But check out this line: "Is it better empty than in Franken's hands? Hell, yeah."

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