TPM News

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is stepping up its efforts to elect Marco Rubio in the Senate, the St. Petersburg Times reports, with the national party group committing the legal maximum of $2.5 million to coordinated advertising with his campaign.

A key reason could be that ex-Republican and now independent Gov. Charlie Crist has a cash-on-hand figure of $8 million to Rubio's $4.5 million. The paper recognizes the irony of all this -- the NRSC previously embraced Crist's candidacy for the Republican nomination and tried to stop Rubio's rise, right up until Crist bolted the party to run as an independent when the GOP primary polls went insurmountably in Rubio's direction.

The TPM Poll Average gives Rubio a narrow lead with 35.2%, followed by Crist at 34.7%, and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek at 17.8%.

The police report filed by the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department, the local agency investigating a fire that destroyed construction equipment at the site of a mosque in Tennessee, shows that the engine was running on the dump truck that was torched.

The police report, obtained today by TPMmuckraker, is brief. But it does reveal two bits of information: One, that the engine was running on the destroyed machinery. Two, police observed someone in a car watching the fire from the road, who then drove away.

You can read the report here.

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She's earned $13 million since the 2008 presidential race that shoved her onto the national stage, but Sarah Palin apparently is a crappy tipper. A new Vanity Fair profile of the former Alaska governor paints a picture of a woman who has skyrocketed to success -- stepping on staff, friends and family along the way -- but who is so deeply concerned about controlling her public persona that she hired a friendly blogger to write her much-ballyhooed Facebook posts.

The wide-ranging profile documents hotels where Palin stiffed bellhops; her demands during the presidential campaign and on her busy speaking circuit; tensions with residents in her home town; and Palin's fashion preferences (and includes a sidebar with more details on the RNC clothing flap) -- up to and including mentioning her use of Spanx and push-up bras. But after the more salacious details, Vanity Fair writer Michael Joseph Gross also drops strong suggestions there's something fishy with some of the political action committees paying Palin to boost candidates across the country -- but he doesn't quite nail it down.

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Not news: a politician blames the media for his epic downfall and convincing defeat. News: the politician takes the media to court and asks for $500 million in damages.

That's the man-bites-dog story playing out in Florida today, where Jeff Greene -- the billionaire investor who just got crushed by Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary for Senate -- is filing suit against two state papers for, he says, tanking the Senate campaign he spent tens of millions from his personal fortune on.

The New York Times reports that Greene is filing a libel suit against the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald, claiming that the papers' coverage of his infamous yacht and his even more infamous path to super-wealth were false and so damaging as to cost him the Democratic nomination.

As the Times reports, Greene's suit "is a rare step for a political figure." Many losing candidates come to hate the media, but few go so far as to take it to court.

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Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL), the Democratic nominee in the Florida Senate race, has a new radio ad out attacking independent Gov. Charlie Crist -- and seeking to undermine any feeling among Dem voters that Crist could end up caucusing with the Democrats.

The ad declares that Crist's "home" is with the GOP, and features audio of various statements that Crist made when he was a Republican. Examples include, "I'm a Jeb Bush Republican," "I was impressed at Governor Palin being picked," and "I'm about as conservative as you can get."

"Now Charlie Crist is running for Senate as an independent -- while he still supports extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy," says the announcer. "Don't be fooled. If Charlie Crist gets to Washington, his heart will lead him right back where he belongs."

The TPM Poll Average gives Republican Marco Rubio a narrow lead with 35.2%, followed by Crist at 34.7% -- and Meek way behind for now with 17.8%.

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Democrats are staying on the attack against Pat Toomey, using a new TV ad to once again blame the GOP Senate candidate for the financial crisis.

The new ad from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, embedded at bottom, comes two weeks after the party first went on the air in Pennsylvania, and just a couple days after Democratic nominee Joe Sestak started running his first ad. Toomey and his conservative allies have been hammering Sestak on the airwaves for months.

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Five teenagers have been arrested for disrupting religious services at a mosque in upstate New York after allegedly driving by the mosque during Ramadan services, honking their horns and firing a shotgun.

The five, who are all 17 and 18, have allegedly driven by the World Sufi Foundation mosque in Carlton, N.Y., during Ramadan services twice over the past week, yelling obscenities.

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The charges keep flying in New Jersey as fired Education Commissioner Bret Schundler (R) and Governor Chris Christie (R) continue to spar over whether Schundler should have been fired over his explanations as to why New Jersey lost out on $400 million in federal education funding due to a mistake on a grant application.

Who's telling the truth and who is just trying to cover themselves? TPMMuckraker looks into the charges and counter charges and breaks it down.

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Don't underestimate Republicans' desire to stymie or unwind the health care law. But not all of them are as committed to its demise as Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who yesterday issued an executive order forbidding his state's officials from applying for grant money from the new law.

It turns out that seven of the states -- Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska and Nevada -- that have applied and been approved for subsidies to cover the cost of caring for retired state government employees are also part of a coalition of more than 20 states suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the health care law's individual mandate, which experts say is critical to the success of the policy. Minnesota's attorney general, Lori Swanson (D), refused to join to Pawlenty's displeasure.

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