In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the former House Republican Whip who is now running for his state's open GOP-held Senate seat in 2010, just got a bit of a break. Thomas Schweich, a Washington University law professor and former ambassador who had been looking at getting into the race, has announced that he is not running after all, and has endorsed Blunt in the name of party unity.

Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who lost the 2008 Republican primary for governor, is also eyeing the race. Polls have shown that both Blunt and Steelman trail the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sec. of State Robin Carnahan.

Even though Schweich hadn't gotten into the race, these two had in fact already been attacking each other. But now with Schweich's support, Blunt is one step closer to a free race in the primary.

A new Ipsos/McClatchy poll suggests that Republicans could be in political trouble if they oppose the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor -- especially with Hispanic voters.

The poll finds that attacks against Sotomayor haven't caught on with the general population -- though neither has the positive case for her. She has a favorable rating of 29% compared to an unfavorable rating of only 14%, with 55% undecided. But among Hispanics, that numbers stands at 51%-4%-44%. And respondents said by a 54%-21% margin that the Senate should confirm her, with a 74%-9% among Hispanics.

Then came this question: "If Senate Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, what effect, if any, will this have on your favorability toward the Republican party?" Among the general public it was 24% more favorable to 37% less favorable -- and among Hispanics, it's 20%-42%.

FreedomWorks, the conservative organization that had a big hand in the Tea Party rallies this past April, is gearing up for a new "Taxpayer March On Washington" for September 12 -- with a very interesting logo.

The intriguing thing here, as Ron Gunzburger pointed out, is that the logo makes use of left-handed fists, colored in red -- a traditional symbol all around the world for communism and militant socialism.

In an interview with TPM, FreedomWorks press secretary Adam Brandon said the group is aware of this symbol's traditional meaning. "Well, when you start working here at FreedomWorks, the first book you read is Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals. We're avid students of the political left," he said. "I've spent years living in Eastern Europe. I'm aware of of it, but I guess the symbolism we're going for is angry taxpayers as a group. So I guess the symbolism is kind of fun."

If anything, the Tea Parties and similar events are efforts to tap into the energy of the left. "I've gone to a number of left rallies, and they tend to be fun," said Brandon. "People go out protesting, and spend some time with some like-minded folks, and we're looking to do that on our side."

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) took to the House floor this morning to denounce the tobacco regulation bill as a big step on the road to Tobacco Socialism. His argument: That the bill narrow-mindedly attempts to stop tobacco use entirely, as opposed to harnessing the powers of market innovation to develop and encourage people to use safer, less harmful tobacco products.

Buyer said that cessation programs have a success rate of only 7% -- meaning that we are accepting failure by going down this road. Instead, he said, we should be using market innovation to migrate populations over to safer and more mild tobacco products, which in turn could help people quit.

Buyer noted that people make "harm-reduction choices" every day, in terms of what they eat or drink, what car to drive, etc. "But how come we don't apply harm-reduction strategies to tobacco?" He asked. "We should. In the marketplace right now, there are many types of products."

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Obama And Congressional Negotiators Reach Compromise On Abuse Photos House and Senate negotiators have approved a $106 billion compromise bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, after President Obama personally intervened on the controversy over an amendment to forbid the release of detainee abuse photos. The amendment was removed in the hope of assuaging liberal Democrats -- but Obama promised to use all means at his disposal to prevent their release.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet at 2:30 p.m. ET with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and at 2:50 p.m. ET with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). At 3:30 p.m. ET, he will meet with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Moran Tsvangirai, who will press Obama for international aid and try to assuage the doubts about his country's political situation, given the uneasy power-sharing government he has with his rival, President Robert Mugabe.

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The folks at Right Wing Watch were on hand to film Randall Terry's press conference today, and have uploaded a couple key clips for everybody's...enjoyment. Here Terry inveighs against Republicans who might vote not support a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

And here he explains that the murderer of abortion provider George Tiller is a modern day incarnation of rebel slave Nat Turner.

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It's been a rough day for the new Republican majority in the New York state Senate, which was achieved on Monday after two Democrats changed their organizational votes in order to flip control. They showed up to work today -- and then couldn't get anything done, and were ultimately shut down after one of the two switchers walked out of the chamber.

The state Senate Democrats are boycotting the legislature on the grounds that the coup on Monday was an illegal maneuver, and they're even going to court to try to forbid it. (Democratic Gov. David Paterson is openly badmouthing this tactic, pointing out that legislative chambers have switched control like this throughout history.) But the up-shot of this is that all 32 members of the new majority have to be there in order to form a quorum or pass anything.

At any rate, the new GOP caucus -- they officially call themselves a "coalition" -- had to first get a key to just enter the chamber. Then they needed to formally open the desk containing the bills to be voted on. And it turned out that this desk was locked, and nobody had a key.

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This afternoon, anti-abortion activist and former Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry went ahead with his second press conference in as many weeks at the National Press Club, the first of which was held in the immediate aftermath of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas. As promised, there were hot wings and Guinness. But there was also an ominous warning that the Obama administration may be making more violent attacks "inevitable."

I asked Terry whether he'd received any complaints or criticism for proceeding with his event despite the tragic murder just yesterday of Holocaust Museum security guard Stephen T. Johns at the hands of a right-wing extremist. He responded, "we've had this in progress for about a week. If I had known we would have done it at a different time."

But then Terry took a curious turn.

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Rev. Jeremiah Wright is now clarifying his controversial remarks from the other day, when he said "them Jews" wouldn't let him anywhere near Barack Obama for the duration of Obama's presidency.

"Let me say like Hillary, I misspoke," said Wright. So what did he mean to say? "Let me just say: Zionists."

"I'm not talking about all Jews, all people of the Jewish faith," he explained. "I'm talking about Zionists."

Stephen Johns, the 39-year old man who was murdered yesterday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, wasn't just a Wackenhut-employed security officer. He was also a member of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America--a union.

That union approached Wackenhut about the dangers Holocaust Museum officers face, and asked them to provide their employees with bulletproof vests. You can imagine how that turned out.

[D]uring contract negotiations with Wackenhut two years ago, the union pressed for company-issued protective vests. Although Wackenhut seemed open to the idea, vests have not been issued, Faye said.

"I hammered this in our negotiations two years ago because of how sensitive that museum is," he said. "Our guards needed more protection." He said that one of the guards at the museum was "verbally assaulted by one guy walking by, saying anti-Semitic remarks. For that reason, I made that the center of the negotiation."

Authorities said Johns was not wearing a protective vest.