In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The 2010 Republican primary for Senate in Missouri seems to be heating up, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, with frontrunner Rep. Roy Blunt and a possible opponent already going at it -- even though the opponent hasn't officially gotten in yet.

Late last week, Blunt's campaign attacked Thomas Schweich, a Washington University law professor and former Ambassador for counter-narcotics and justice reform in Afghanistan, for having donated $500 in 2001 to Democrat Claire McCaskill when she was running for an easy re-election as state Auditor. This was five years before McCaskill was elected as a U.S. Senator, defeating a Republican incumbent.

Now Schweich is hitting back, noting Blunt's early attack. "I am flattered that Roy Blunt is so concerned about me that he has launched a vintage Washington-style smear campaign against me before I have even decided whether to run," Schweich said in a statement. "It underscores the need for our party to go in a new direction in this Senate race, demonstrates how vulnerable Blunt is feeling in light of the recent polls showing him being handily defeated by Robin Carnahan, and makes me more likely to run."

Rep. Michele Bachmann appeared last week on the right-wing talk radio show of Jan Markell, where she spoke out forcefully against the Obama Administration for not wanting to go after foreign terrorists -- and for targeting conservatives through the Department of Homeland Security's report on right-wing extremists:

"It isn't that they don't want to use the word 'terrorism,' it's who they're using this word against," said Bachmann. "And as you had stated correctly, in this report -- which I have read, it's about a nine-page report I believe, if I recall correctly -- the right-wing extremists report, they include people who believe in End-Time prophecies, pro-life. It is appalling the people that they named."

She later warned: "People need to realize that truly, our freedoms are more at risk than they have been at any other time in recent history."

Al Franken appeared over the weekend at a the Minneapolis DFL Party's city convention, where he showed that he's coping with his unusual predicament in a manner that shouldn't be too surprising -- telling some pretty funny jokes:

"A lot of people here have been asking me, 'What do I call you?' And the answer to that is: 'Al,'" he said, with the audience applauding and yelling back his name. "There's only one person in the state who will have to call me 'Senator,' and that, of course, is [his wife] Franni."

"I want to thank you all," he followed up. "You know, when you win an election by 312 votes, there's not a lot of effort that goes to waste. We ran a very efficient campaign."

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) appeared today on Morning Joe, and said the Republican Party is big enough for both the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Colin Powell -- and upon further questioning by Scarborough, Price disagreed with the idea that Limbaugh or Dick Cheney are better Republicans than Powell:

Scarborough: Congressman, do you disagree with Rush Limbaugh that Colin Powell should leave the Republican Party?

Price: Look, it's not up to Rush Limbaugh to decide who ought to be in the Republican Party.


Scarborough: Congressman, do you believe that Rush Limbaugh or Dick Cheney are better, quote -- I'm just using terms that we hear every day on TV and radio -- that they are somehow better Republicans than Colin Powell?

Price: No. Goodness.

Scarborough: God bless you, Congressman. God bless you.

During his Meet The Press appearance yesterday, RNC Chairman Michael Steele appeared to say he could potentially support a Truth Commission to look into Bush-era torture -- and he made the rather interesting claim that a lot of Republicans have called for this:

MR. GREGORY: Should there be a wider--should there be a truth commission? Should there be an investigation?

MR. STEELE: I think, I think you've heard a lot of Republicans call for that. And if this is, if this is a door that the Democrats and, and their leadership, since they have the House and the Senate and the presidency and they want to expose all of this...

GOV. KAINE: Mm-hmm.

MR. STEELE: ...then let's put it all on the table and let's take a closer look at it.

Was this a genuine statement of policy on Steele's part -- or a gaffe as he stumbled his way through a subject he might not know that much about? For one thing, we can't think of any elected Republican who has called for a Truth Commission.

A new Rasmussen poll finds the public closely divided on Nancy Pelosi's claim that she was misled by the CIA on the use of waterboarding, with public opinion on this debate still pretty much up in the air.

The numbers: A 43% plurality of likely voters say it is very or somewhat likely that Pelosi was misled, compared to 41% who say it is not very likely or not at all likely. The margin of error is ±3%.

The pollster's analysis points out that most people seem to be waiting for more information, with only 20% saying it's very likely she was misled and 22% saying it's not at all likely, and others respondents holding softer positions. But some other numbers suggest Pelosi starts out this fight at a disadvantage: "The CIA is viewed favorably by 63% and unfavorably by 24%. For Pelosi, the comparable numbers are 35% favorable and 55% unfavorable."

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has written an op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman, strongly denying that his stand in favor of states' rights meant he was in any way advocating secession:

I can't say I was surprised that critics recast my defense of federalism and fiscal discipline into advocacy for secession from the Union. I have never advocated for secession and never will.

Like the president, members of Congress and every other state governor, I have sworn oaths to our nation and Constitution. My sincere pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution has fueled my concern and my statements about the recent unprecedented expansion of our federal government.

It's worth looking back on what Perry said during the Tea Party rallies back in April that got people so worked up. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it," Perry said. "But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that."

Obama's Day Ahead: Meeting With Netanyahu President Obama will meet one-on-one with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, at 10:30 ET in the Oval Office. He will hold an expanded meeting with Netanyahu at 11:30 a.m. ET, also in the Oval Office, and the two of them will attend a working lunch at 12:25 p.m. ET.

Bibi To Press Obama On Iran Going into today's meeting, Netanyahu will press President Obama on the issue of confronting Iran's nuclear ambitions. "There is a sense of urgency on our side," said Israeli National Security Adviser Uzi Arad. There could also be some tension on the two-state solution, which is resisted by many on the Israeli right.

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Obama Delivering Notre Dame Commencement Address Today President Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, at 2 p.m. ET. Pro-life protesters have already marched at the campus against Obama's pro-choice position. At 6:10 p.m. ET, he will headline a Democratic fundraiser in Indianapolis. He is scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 9 p.m. ET.

Steele: Notre Dame Honorary Degree For Obama 'Inappropriate' Appearing today on Meet The Press, RNC chairman Michael Steele criticized the decision of Notre Dame to award President Obama an honorary degree. "Those institutions don't hand those degrees out that readily. So it is a very strong sticking point, and I think a lot of Catholics and a lot of pro-life Americans are very concerned about that, and I think it is inappropriate," said Steele. He added: "The president should speak, but the degree should not be conferred."

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Obama Address: I'm Bringing People Together On Health Care And Energy In this weekend's Presidential YouTube address, President Obama said he is bringing together different groups such as businesses and labor to deal with the issues of health care costs and clean energy:

"I have always believed that it is better to talk than not to talk; that it is far more productive to reach over a divide than to shake your fist across it," said Obama. "This has been an alien notion in Washington for far too long, but we are seeing that the ways of Washington are beginning to change."

GOP Address: Republicans Can Work With Obama On Health Care -- But No Public Option In this weekend's RNC YouTube, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) said Republicans can agree with President Obama on a lot of things regarding health care, and are prepared to work with him -- but he warned strongly against any pursuit of a public option:

"A government takeover of health care will put bureaucrats in charge of health care decisions that should be made by families and doctors," said Boustany. "It will limit treatment options and lead to rationed care. And to pay for government health care, your taxes will be raised."

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