TPM News

House Republican leaders are calling on their supporters to send money after last week's extraordinary Q&A session with President Obama. Their recollection of the meeting, as described in the fundraising letters? We stuck it to Obama, so give us some money.

In a fundraising email sent out to the NRCC list today, House Minority Leader John Boehner argued the GOP came out on top in the session "[Obama] finally acknowledged that we'd been offering solutions -- Democrats just haven't listened," Boehner wrote. "You see, we're not just fighting to put the brakes on their jobs-killing agenda - we're showing what a new Republican-led Congress would do differently."

Reports today indicate that Boehner's not the only Republican to see the Q&A as a fundraising opportunity. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) -- the man whose take on the budget Obama called "factually inaccurate" during the session -- said his performance at the Q&A merits some campaign donations, too.

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Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) sent a letter today to the Massachusetts governor and secretary of state, demanding the election be certified right away so he can be sworn in to the U.S. Senate tomorrow afternoon.

In the letter, Brown's lawyers say he wants the election certified no later than 11 a.m. tomorrow so Brown can be sworn in tomorrow afternoon.

"While Senator-elect Brown had tentatively planned to be sworn into office on February 11, he has been advised that there are a number of votes scheduled prior to that date," the letter reads. "For that reason, he wants certification to occur immediately."

A spokeswoman for Gov. Deval Patrick's office said the office is aware of the letter but could not immediately comment. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office declined to comment.

Brown said last week he expected to be sworn in Feb. 11 and was comfortable with that date.

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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the newly-nominated Republican candidate for President Obama's former Senate seat in Illinois, is out with a new internal poll claiming that he already has a strong lead over the Democratic nominee, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

The numbers: Kirk 47%, Giannoulias 35%. The poll was conducted February 1 and 2, before the primary. Independent polling has generally shown Giannoulias ahead of Kirk.

As David Freddosso points out: "This poll is an outlier, and it's Kirk's poll, so take it with a grain of salt. But it should put a fresh scare into the White House."

In a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Attorney General Eric Holder is continuing the push back against GOP attacks on the Obama Administration's decision to handle Umar Abdulmutallab in American courts.

"Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the practice of the U.S. government, followed by prior and current Administrations without a single exception, has been to arrest and detain under federal criminal law all terrorist suspects who are apprehended inside the United States," Holder writes (emphasis in original).

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The Obama administration is pushing back against criticism of the way it's handled Christmas bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- but that doesn't seem to be stopping Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) from continuing her own critique.

It started on Saturday, when Collins said in a video message that the Obama administration had failed in its handling of the Christmas Day bombing incident and subsequent interrogation of Abdulmutallab.

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said on MSNBC moments ago that he's open to repealing the military's controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy -- which prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military, and prevents recruiters from asking about sexuality.

Hatch said that members of the military "shouldn't have to lie about being gay" before acknowledging an argument often touted by opponents of repealing the current policy.

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Senate Democrats now officially have a candidate for the Senate seat formerly held by Vice President Joe Biden, to run against long-time Republican Rep. Mike Castle. New Castle County Executive Chris Coons declared today that he is in the race.

After Biden resigned in order to become vice president, his former aide Ted Kaufman was appointed as a caretaker who would serve in the Senate and not run for election in 2010. Much attention was focused on state Attorney General Beau Biden, one of the vice president's sons, as a potential candidate. However, Beau Biden announced last week that he would not run.

On paper, Coons would appear to be a major candidate who could make the race. New Castle County is home to about 60% of the state's population, so he does begin with a clear geographic base. He will nevertheless have his work cut out for him, as a recent Rasmussen poll put Castle ahead of Coons by 56%-27%.

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With the debate over how to handle captured terrorists heating up, it's a good time to look back at the record of how military tribunals have worked in practice, and examine the uninterrogated assumption underlying the debate: that tribunals are tougher on terrorists than the criminal justice system.

A recent study by the liberal Center for American Progress found that in the very few cases of captured terrorists being tried in tribunals, the defendants were given lighter sentences than comparable cases in the criminal justice system.

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In the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been quick to denounce a bid by Democrats to stop foreign corporations from pouring money into U.S. elections, claiming current law already bars such spending. As we've reported before, it's not nearly as simple as that -- but McConnell should know: The GOP Senate leader has raked in campaign cash from a subsidiary of a major foreign defense contractor that's currently being investigated by the Justice Department for bribery.

As we reported yesterday, McConnell, a longtime foe of efforts to get money out of politics, last week took to the Senate floor to pooh-pooh the notion that the court's decision could allow a flood of foreign money to sway our elections, citing an existing law that prevents foreign nationals, including corporations, from spending on U.S. elections. But that ban doesn't cover the U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies, or to foreign-owned corporations that incorporate in the U.S.

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