In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Rusty DePass, a prominent South Carolina Republican activist, is now apologizing for making a racist joke about Michelle Obama, and taken down the Facebook page where he made it -- though he does make sure to shift the blame and say that Michelle started it.

DePass commented on a story about a gorilla escaping from a local zoo: "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors - probably harmless."

"I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone," said DePass. "The comment was clearly in jest."

But, he said, "The comment was hers, not mine," referring to Michelle having said that man has descended from apes. The New York Daily News says they could find no such comment from Michelle -- but even if they could, it's not like that would make it any better.

It's worth noting that Michelle's ancestors came from South Carolina. So why did they leave, again?

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) spoke to the Minnesota state Republican convention this past weekend -- explaining that his disputed Senate race is not just about him, but the issues that matter to the country.

Norm broke the ice with a joke. "People ask, how are you doing -- you know, the race, it never ends," he said. "And I tell them I've been counting and recounting my blessings since November."

He got serious, too:

"But winning isn't about me. You know, it's not about me or even us as Republicans. It really is about this country. And about the future of the country," said Coleman. "The one vote in the United States Senate, the one vote is a difference between possibly people losing the right to a secret ballot in a union election, or not ... One vote, one vote between the potentiality of a slippery slide into the path of government-controlled health care. If I am in the U.S. Senate, we're not gonna have a government-controlled health care. It's not gonna happen."

Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA), whose conservative primary challenge spurred Sen. Arlen Specter into switching to the Democrats, has announced that he's raised $1 million in the past 60 days since he declared his candidacy -- a sign that he's building up the momentum to potentially nail down the GOP nomination.

In a fun side-note, the Toomey campaign's press release also announces that he's signed on long-time Pennsylvania Republican fundraisers Amy Petraglia and Carey Dunn: "Petraglia and Dunn have helped raised money for a number of statewide Pennsylvania candidates, including Rick Santorum, Lynn Swann, and Arlen Specter." (Emphasis added.)

Toomey has also signed up Specter's former finance director, Louisa Boyd, to be his own top fundraiser.

Panetta: Cheney Almost Wishing For America To Be Attacked CIA Director Leon Panetta told the New Yorker that former Vice President Dick Cheney may be hoping for America to be attacked by terrorists. "It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics," Panetta said of Cheney's recent speeches. "When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that's dangerous politics."

Obama's Day Ahead: Pitching Health Care To AMA President Obama will be speaking today, at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association, at 12:15 p.m. ET in Chicago. The AMA has come out against a public option, so expect Obama's remarks on health care to rebut potential objections. He will then go back to Washington, where he will meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at 4:15 p.m. ET in the Oval Office.

Read More →

Biden Casts Doubt On Iranian Election Results Appearing on Meet The Press, Vice President Biden express doubt regarding the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "It sure looks like the way they're suppressing speech, the way they're suppressing crowds, the way in which people are being treated, that there's some real doubt," said Biden. He added: "I have doubts but we're going to withhold comment until we have a thorough review of the whole process and (see) how they react in the aftermath."

Biden: "Everyone Guessed Wrong" On Economic Figures Also during his Meet The Press interview, Vice President Biden said that "everyone guessed wrong" on the impact of the economic stimulus. Biden's explanation was that White House economists used standard formulas to estimate that the stimulus program would save or create 3.5 million jobs -- but in fact the economy was really worse off than anyone thought. Biden promised that with money now flowing out of Washington to states and cities, there would be 600,000 new jobs in the coming months.

Read More →

Obama Proposes New Savings On Health Care, To Pay For Reform In his weekly Presidential YouTube Address, President Obama argued that health care reform must be done quickly. And to help in this effort, he announced that he will save $313 billion in various areas, to go for paying the short-term costs of reform:

"These savings will come from commonsense changes," said Obama. "For example - if more Americans are insured, we can cut payments that help hospitals treat patients without health insurance. If the drug makers pay their fair share, we can cut government spending on prescription drugs. And if doctors have incentives to provide the best care instead of more care, we can help Americans avoid the unnecessary hospital stays, treatments, and tests that drive up costs."

Pence: Dem Energy Plan A "Declaration Of War" On Families In this weekend's Republican address, Rep Mike Pence (R-IN) lambasted the Democratic proposals for a cap-and-trade program:

"This national energy tax amounts to an economic declaration of war on America's families, small businesses and family farms. The American people know we can do better," Pence said.

Read More →

Former President George H.W. Bush weighed in earlier today on the attacks against Sonia Sotomayor -- and he's against it.

"I don't know her that well but I think she's had a distinguished record on the bench and she should be entitled to fair hearings," said Bush. He cited the example of Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who said that while he might vote for or against her, he is backing away from the more vitriolic attacks.

"And she was called by somebody a racist once. That's not right. I mean that's not fair," said Bush. "It doesn't help the process. You're out there name-calling. So let them decide who they want to vote for and get on with it."

A new Rasmussen poll finds that Sen. Roland Burris' (D-IL) political standing in Illinois is bad -- extremely, really, very bad -- with a majority of voters believing he engaged in pay-to-play politics to win his appointment.

Among likely Illinois voters, only 13% say he should run for a full term in 2010, to 74% who say he should not. If he does run, only 6% say they'll definitely vote for him, to 61% who say they'll definitely vote against him.

This question is particularly bad for Burris: "To win his appointment to the United States Senate, how likely is it that Roland Burris was involved in unethical pay to play politics?" The numbers are 50% very likely, 27% somewhat likely, 9% not very likely, and 2% not at all likely.

The Republican Senate primary in Florida, between the front-running moderate Gov. Charlie Crist and the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio is now heating up -- with a serious accusation being made of political retribution.

State Sen. Steve Oelrich is now claiming that because he endorsed Rubio, and also didn't support Crist on another initiative, Crist got back at him by vetoing a bill that Oelrich had fought for. "I'm certain the Governor's Office would deny all that, but politics being what they are, it's discouraging sometimes," he told the Gainesville Sun.

Rubio stepped in to endorse the allegation, posting this on Twitter: "Happy for State Sen. Steve Oelrich's endorsement. But sorry that it got his bill vetoed."

Crist's press secretary strongly denied the allegations to the Sun. "There's no political retribution," Ivey said. "The bill was vetoed for the reasons stated in the (veto) letter."

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE); Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME); Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT); Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Vice President Joe Biden; Republican strategist Mike Murphy; MSNBC host and former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL).