TPM News

Forget AM radio. Herman Cain is hitting the road to pitch his bid for the presidency -- and it may be working.

Cain delivered a speech at a Tea Party summit in Phoenix over the weekend, and was rewarded with a first place finish in the event's straw poll, even topping higher profile candidates like Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Cain captured 22% of Sunday's straw poll vote, followed by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (16%) and Texas Rep. Ron Paul (15%).

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David Rivera, who has been dogged by questions on ethics issues in his first month in as a member of Congress, doesn't think House Republican leaders are distancing themselves from him. In fact, he claims in an interview which aired on "Naples Daily NewsMakers with Jeff Lytle" on Sunday that he's "probably the most transparent member of Congress as of right now."

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Speaker John Boehner is ready to take on the White House over the Defense of Marriage Act, pledging to force the issue in the House after the Justice Department announced last week it was abandoning support for portions of the law.

"I'm really disappointed in the President and the Department of Justice in the fact that they're not going to defend a law that Congress passed overwhelmingly. It's their responsibility to do that," he told CBN's David Brody on Sunday.

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The online hacking collective 'Anonymous' is targeting groups like Americans For Prosperity who are backed by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, because of their support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union proposals.

In a press release, 'Anonymous' explained that it "cannot ignore the plight of the citizen-workers of Wisconsin, or the opportunity to fight for the people in America's broken political system."

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A new report from a bipartisan commission set up to scrutinize the unprecedented use of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan concludes that the United States has wasted tens of billions of the nearly $177 billion that has been spent on those contracts and grants since 2002.

The report, titled "At What Risk? Correcting Over-reliance on Contractors in Contingency Operations," said its estimate may even understate the problem because it may not take into full account ill-conceived projects, poor planning and oversight by the U.S. government, as well as criminal behavior and blatant corruption by both government and contractor employees.

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New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane wrote a column this weekend probing the paper's decision to withhold information about Raymond Davis, the American man who was arrested in Pakistan in January after shooting two men dead on the streets of Lahore.

Last week, the Times and other news outlets revealed that, after a request by the Obama administration, they had held back reporting that Davis was a contractor working for the CIA.

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Madison, WI -- In a major victory for the protesters at the Wisconsin state Capitol -- who were supposed to clear out at 4 p.m. CT today, but have remained inside in the hundreds -- Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs has announced that those protesters still in the building will be able to stay the night.

Protesters will be able to sleep on the ground floor, as cleaning is done of the upper floors. Tubbs said there had been no decisions made yet on what the policy would be for successive nights.

"There will be no arrests, as we said before, there will be no use of force," Tubbs said. "We want the people to continue to cooperate and work within the guidelines and the laws of the state of Wisconsin. So there'll be no one asked to leave the Capitol tonight."

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MADISON, WI -- The Wisconsin state Capitol is still bustling with loud protesters, more than an hour after the state's official 4 p.m. CT closure time came and went. So far there have been only a limited signs of people leaving -- and zero signs of arrests or compulsion to leave.

If anybody does leave, of course, they will not be able to get back in. Thus, I am holed up in the Capitol's press room, on the second upper floor, as I write this dispatch surrounded by other reporters.

A few hundred people are crowded on the first upper floor, continuing to go through the chants that have been heard throughout the demonstrations: "This is what democracy looks like!"; "Recall Walker!"; singing of "Solidarity Forever," "The Star-Spangled Banner," and many more.

Even the multiple police officers that I've spoken to say that they do not know whether there are plans to make any arrests.

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The state Capitol Square in Madison, Wisconsin, is now overflowing with protesters, in a demonstration that is even bigger than last Saturday's massive demonstration -- and in freezing, snowy weather to boot.

Last Saturday's protest was huge, with estimates of 55,000 or more. But many other reporters I've spoken to agree that there are even more today. The Wisconsin State Journal posted at 12:30 p.m. local time -- before the rally began -- that the crowd size was almost 70,000 people. I should add that it has only gotten significantly bigger since then.

On top of that, last Saturday was sunny and relatively warm for February, while this afternoon it's 17 degrees Fahrenheit with heavy snow coming down.

So take this as a clear sign that even if the Wisconsin Assembly has passed Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, with its anti-public employee union proposals, the passion of demonstrators here is not dying down. The bill is still stuck in the state Senate -- where the minority Democrats have left the state in order to block the three-fifths budget quorum -- and each step of this process might only turn up the political heat.

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The protests that have deluged the Wisconsin Capitol are now being wound down -- at least the ones insides are -- with the Capitol Police announcing today that the building will close down on Sunday.

Preparations for the shutdown have already begun, with protesters asked to remove items such as mattresses, tables, chairs, appliances and boxes from the building. On Saturday, protesters will no longer be allowed to bring blankets or sleeping bags inside.

Key quote from the press release:

"We are closing the Capitol for a short period of time for public health reasons, as well as for general building maintenance," Chief Tubbs said. "Everyone agrees that our State Capitol is a source of pride for our state and that we should take a break to take care of the building. People have been very respectful of the building, law enforcement and staff to this point. Since the beginning, protest organizers have worked very cooperatively with law enforcement. Based on discussions with them about the need to return to normal business hours, Capitol Police is anticipating that a thorough cleaning can begin at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. As always, the top priority of Capitol Police is ensuring the safety of everyone at the Capitol. I thank everyone in advance for their cooperation.

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