In it, but not of it. TPM DC

In the latest move by the Democratic leadership to embrace and promote Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), Vice President Biden has sent out an e-mail to the DNC and Organizing for America supporter lists in Pennsylvania, encouraging Democrats to get to know Specter and support him.

"For more than 25 years, we've ridden the train together back to Wilmington and Philadelphia," Biden says of his old friend. "We've had some great debates and discussions on the train -- and gotten to know each other so well -- that it gives me great pleasure to be able to work even more closely with Arlen now."

Check out the full e-mail after the jump.

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It looks like the coast still isn't clear in the 2010 Republican primary for Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), with possible GOP opponents now eyeing the race because of his actions to delay the confirmation of President Obama's FEMA Director.

Former state Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell, who ran for Senate in 2002 and narrowly lost to Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu, is now looking at the race, and could potentially mount a strong campaign. Other possible primary challengers include Sec. of State Jay Dardenne and state Supreme Court Justice Chet Taylor.

As New Orleans City Business points out: "Women compose a majority of the Republican voters in Louisiana, and Terrell might be seen as a more palatable candidate than Vitter. While Vitter's wife forgave him for his escapades with the D.C. Madam call girl ring, Republican women throughout the state might not be so forgiving."

We're well aware, at this point, that the House Republican strategy for opposing the Waxman-Markey climate change bill is to make the legislative process take a very, very long time. That means heaps and heaps of irrelevant amendments, written by congressmen who warn of "Global Warming Gestapo." But so far they have eschewed a maneuver that would force the Democrats to read the bill aloud. All 900-plus pages of it.

In case the GOP decides to change course, though, Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats are prepared. With a speed reader.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new temp thinks he can plow through about one page every 34 seconds--a pretty impressive clip considering the nature of the reading material. And it means the entire stunt would only last about nine hours--significantly less than it would take if the committee's clerks were forced to do the job.

Ladies and gentlemen, your United States Congress.

Today: Obama's And Cheney's Big Speeches On National Security The big headline event will be a dueling pair of speeches from President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney, each laying out their visions for national security. Obama will be discussing at 10:10 a.m. ET the steps his Administration is taking on such issues as Guantanamo Bay and fighting terrorism, while Cheney will be speaking at 10:45 a.m. ET from the American Enterprise Institute, laying out a thorough defense of the Bush Administration's policies and condemning Obama's approach.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will deliver his speech on national security at 10:10 a.m. ET, from the National Archives Museum Rotunda. At 1:30 p.m. ET, he will welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to the White House, at the South Portico. At 4:15 p.m. ET, he will meet with President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.

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A new SurveyUSA poll in Virginia finds yet more evidence that former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe is leading the pack for the June 9 Democratic primary for Governor.

The numbers: McAuliffe 37%, state Sen. Creigh Deeds 26%, and former state Del. Brian Moran 22%, with a ±4.5% margin of error. Three weeks ago, it was McAuliffe 38%, and Deeds and Moran tied at 22% each.

The pollster's analysis finds that 57% of likely primary voters could change their minds, so the race is still very much in a fluid condition, though McAuliffe sure seems to be the man to beat.

However, all three Dems currently trail the Republican candidate, former state Atty. Bob McDonnell, who leads McAuliffe 46%-40%, is ahead of Deeds 46%-40%, and beats Moran 47%-37%. Still, this formerly Republican state has officially become a swing state in the wake of Barack Obama's win last year, so there's no telling what will happen when the general election campaign really gets going after the primary.

The RNC has officially scrapped the much-ridiculed proposal to call for the Democratic Party to change its name to the "Democrat Socialist Party," which was originally set for a vote today.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele had opposed this cartoonish proposal from the start -- and in a sign that he is now exercising genuine leadership at the GOP, he has negotiated a much tamer change in language that simply calls on Americans to reject the Democrats' "socialist" agenda.

This deal had first been announced last night, and was formally carried out today.

Late Update: The resolution's original sponsors are still claiming victory in that the proposal generated publicity and educated the public. RNC member David Norcross of New Jersey said the effort here was to raise the public's awareness of the Democratic agenda, so that the people can be "properly fearful."

As you've heard, the New Hampshire state House just narrowly rejected a compromise gay marriage bill that Gov. John Lynch (D) was prepared to sign -- only two weeks after they'd previously voted in favor of gay marriage. So what happened?

The answer comes down to a term often used in politics, just not all that much in this context: GOTV.

To start with, little old New Hampshire has absurdly large lower chamber -- with 400 members for a state that has just two Congressional districts. Two weeks ago, the House voted 178-167 for the bill -- meaning that 55 members didn't vote. Today, the vote was 186 yes to 188 no, with 26 people not voting -- 29 less abstainers than last time.

Looking at the two votes, there don't appear to have been people switching from being pro-gay marriage to anti-gay marriage. The difference came from the anti-marriage equality forces doing a better job getting their folks to show up. This is probably not the last we've heard of this issue.

Late Update: Interestingly, there was at least one legislator who switched from yes to no -- a gay Republican who opposed the new concessions to religious institutions not wanting to honor gay marriages.

TPMDC's daily update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Guantanamo: The Senate stripped Guantanamo detention center closing funds from a war funding bill by an overwhelming vote of 90-6.


  • Credit Card Reform: The House passed--and the President will soon sign--legislation cracking down on credit card companies. House leaders split the bill in two because of a measure sponsored by Tom Coburn (R-OK) allowing people to take guns into national parks. Both parts of the bill passed, but the move allowed liberal Democrats to go on record against the idea.


  • EFCA: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) tells potential EFCA opponents to get serious about compromise, or they'll have to go on record, one way or another, on the question of the original bill.


  • Defense Spending: Defense Secretary Robert Gates isn't backtracking on his decision to cancel the (well over-budget) presidential helicopter program. But he does envision the possibility of a "escape helicopter," to make the President's job seem more awesome.

A new CNN poll has yet more bad news for the Republican Party, directly contradicting recent declarations that they represent the American people with their attacks on President Obama and the less popular Democratic leadership in Congress.

The poll asked this straightforward question: "Do you think the policies being proposed by Barack Obama will move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?" The answer was right direction 63%, wrong direction 35%.

Then two similar questions were asked about Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, one half of respondents being asked about the Dems and the other half asked about the GOP. "Do you think the policies being proposed by the Democratic leaders in the U.S. House and Senate would move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?" The answer here was right direction 57%, wrong direction 40% -- lagging a bit behind Obama, but still more than solid.

As for this one: "Do you think the policies being proposed by the Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate would move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?" The result here was right direction 39%, wrong direction 53%.

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