In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Cheney Says GOP Shouldn't Moderate Itself, Stresses "Our Commitment To The Constitution" During an appearance on a right-wing talk radio show, former Vice President Dick Cheney said the Republican Party should not moderate itself. Cheney explained: "This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas ... what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will be speaking at 11:30 a.m. ET from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the subjects of job creation and job training. At 3:15 p.m. ET, he will meet in the Oval Office with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

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Tom Ridge appeared on Hardball to discuss why he chose not to run for the Pennsylvania Senate seat currently held by party-switcher Arlen Specter, and at the end of the conversation there was a very strange exchange: Ridge, a former Republican governor and Bush cabinet member, not only wouldn't say that conservative former Rep. Pat Toomey can win -- but he wouldn't say he'd vote for him.

When Chris Matthews asked whether Toomey can win, Ridge paused and eventually had to say he didn't know. When asked who he would vote for, between Toomey the Republican or Specter the ex-Republican, Ridge replied: "Well, it's a wonderful country, this America -- it's called secret ballot."

Transcript after the jump.

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A new Rasmussen poll in Texas finds that Gov. Rick Perry -- the man who has suggested his state might secede from the United States -- is in a near-tie in his Republican primary against the popular U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: Perry 42%, Hutchison 38%, with a ±4% margin of error.

You might think it's bad for the incumbent to be under 50% in his primary, but this could actually be a big improvement for Perry. There isn't another recent Rasmussen poll for direct comparison, but a survey from Public Policy Polling (D) back in February put Hutchison ahead 56%-31%.

Since then, Perry has been hitting the hustings in a big way and putting himself forward as the true conservative. And of course, Daily Kos/Research 2000 polling shows a majority of Texas Republicans approve of his secessionist teasing.

We should probably be rooting for Hutchison in this one. The Union cause is on the line!

As if the situation with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) couldn't be a bigger mess, he is now disputing Harry Reid's contention that he'll be a solid procedural vote for the Democrats.

Yesterday, you'll recall, Reid said on MSNBC yesterday, "on procedural votes he'll be with us all the time."

Well, Fox News caught up with Specter today and asked him about that: "Specter merely smiled and repeated several times, 'I'm going to have to talk to Sen. Reid about that.'"

Reid told Fox in response: "I have talked since Monday night of last week on Specter. I'm not going to talk any more about it. I have explained and re-explained and the re-explaining is over with."

And Reid's spokesman Jim Manley said Reid was being "hopeful and optimistic" about Specter's vote, and reiterated what he told me yesterday about this: "Sen. Reid never takes any votes for granted."

Oh, brother.

(Via Think Progress.)

When it became clear that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was poised to become ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, we recalled this 2002 article by Sarah Wildman which addresses some of the controversies that kept Sessions from being confirmed in 1986 as a U.S. District Court judge in Alabama.

Wildman writes in particular that the testimonies of two witnesses--a Justice Department employee named J. Gerald Hebert, and a black Sessions subordinate named Thomas Figures--helped to doom Sessions, then a U.S. Attorney, at his Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. According to Wildman, Hebert testified reluctantly "that in a conversation between the two men Sessions had labeled the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." And Figures--then an assistant U.S. Attorney--told the committee that "during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he 'used to think they [the Klan] were OK' until he found out some of them were 'pot smokers.'"

Today we obtained a copy of the transcript of the Sessions hearings--over 500-pages worth--and it turns out there's quite a bit more. We're still going through it, of course, but the Figures testimony alone contains some damning details.

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A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll finds Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in good overall shape to win re-election in 2010 -- though there just might be an opening for a Democratic primary challenger.

In a Democratic primary against the lesser-known Rep. Joe Sestak, Specter has 56% to Sestak's 11%, and Specter also leads current challenger Joe Torsella by 60%-5%. However, a separate question shows that only 37% of Dem primary voters say they would definitely vote for Specter, while 23% would consider someone else, 16% are definitely for someone else, and 24% are undecideds. This would indicate that some of Specter's support is soft, and a challenger could have a plausible (though definitely uphill) chance.

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As promised, over at The New Republic Jeffrey Rosen has responded to critics of an article he wrote earlier this week calling into question the fitness of appellate court judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court.

Rosen defends all aspects of his piece beyond its title, which he says was assigned without his knowledge by TNR's editors, and which he regrets. He makes a number of the same points he made to me yesterday when I asked him about the controversy, but adds a few more.

He writes, "I was satisfied that my sources's concerns were widely shared when I read Sotomayor's entry in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which includes the rating of judges based on the collective opinions of the lawyers who work with them. Usually lawyers provide fairly positive comments."

That Almanac entry is here. Rosen himself acknowledges that, according to the report, "most of lawyers interviewed said Sotomayor has good legal ability," and "lawyers said Sotomayor is very active and well-prepared at oral argument."

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Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA), whose conservative primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter caused the incumbent to switch parties, released this statement on the news that former Gov. Tom Ridge won't run for the GOP nomination:

"Tom Ridge is a true patriot and a leader. In his eloquent statement today, he said: 'My belief is that those in my home state can best be served by the principles of limited government, less taxes, competent governance and shared responsibility.' I agree with Governor Ridge's statement 100%. That is exactly the message I will carry to the people of Pennsylvania in my campaign for the U.S. Senate. It is a message that will not only unite the Republican Party, but more importantly, it is one that a majority of our fellow citizens can rally around, regardless of their party affiliation."

The Toomey campaign is off to a very fast start. In only three weeks since Pat Toomey declared his candidacy, the campaign has raised over $500,000 from over 4,000 contributors, signed up thousands more grassroots supporters, and brought on board many leading Republican elected officials and state party leaders.

Despite not being widely known throughout the entire state, two polls out this week show Toomey within a single digit margin of 30-year incumbent Senator Arlen Specter in the general election. This is in keeping with former Congressman Toomey's record of running and winning three general elections in the Democratic-leaning 15th Congressional District. By all accounts, Pat Toomey is the candidate who can unite Republicans and defeat the Democratic nominee in the general election.

It's always been an intractable political issue, but the number of reports indicating that new cap-and-trade legislation is hitting a lot of snags is remarkable for a couple reasons. The first is that the bill in question--the American Clean Energy and Security Act--has been introduced in the House, where legislation can be fast tracked much more easily than it can in the Senate. The second is that it's lead sponsor, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA), is an extremely talented legislator, who has put a tremendous number of professional resources into making sure the government addresses climate change.

Almost two weeks ago, worried that the bill would stall, Waxman had to delay its first markup hearing. Then, last week, a rift emerged between Waxman and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, over the viability of passing major energy legislation this year. Now, House Blue Dogs are trying to torpedo the bill, and Waxman has been put in the position of promising to provide manufacturers and energy producers with billions of dollars worth of free pollution permits under its terms.

And that's all before there's been a single vote on it. We'll keep tracking the bill's progress. Climate change legislation reportedly remains President Obama's and Speaker Pelosi's chief legislative priority. But these developments must come as unwelcome news both to them and to the environmentalists who came out quickly in praise of the bill when it was released earlier this spring.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), a vocal conservative who serves as a deputy Republican whip, appears to have just admitted openly that the GOP's policies are irrelevant.

In the new Time article on the current sorry state of the party, McHenry decried the endless rhetoric about tax cuts -- and apparently declared that the era of Reagan is over:

The most urgent question is the meaning of economic conservatism. Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a conservative who keeps a bust of Reagan on his desk, surprised me by declaring that the Reagan era is over. "Marginal tax rates are the lowest they've been in generations, and all we can talk about is tax cuts," he said. "The people's desires have changed, but we're still stuck in our old issue set."