TPM News

Obama: Tucson Shooting Reminds Us 'Who We Really Are' In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama reflected on the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, and the sense of community that members of both parties can derive from it.

"One of the places we saw that sense of community on display was on the floor of Congress, where Gabby Giffords, who inspires us with her recovery, is deeply missed by her colleagues," said Obama. "One by one, Representatives from all parts of the country and all points of view rose in common cause to honor Gabby and the other victims, and to reflect on our shared hopes for this country. As shrill and discordant as our politics can be at times, it was a moment that reminded us of who we really are - and how much we depend on one another."

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Six days after a gunman attempted to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and killed six others in a mass shooting, the National Rifle Association (NRA) broke its silence, pledging to fight off any and all attempts to impose harsher regulations on guns and high-capacity magazines.

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In a local TV interview that touched on the Tucson shootings, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) recounted threats that have been made to his office -- specifically, one incident in which a man shot himself outside of Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) Las Vegas office in 1996.

"Sen. Reid and I actually had a stalker or whatever you want to call him," Ensign told Fox 5. "He left very blood-curdling -- almost threats -- on our phones. He ended up shooting himself in front of both of our offices."

Here's what happened, according to contemporary news reports: In 1995, when Ensign was a congressman, a man named Michael McCusker starting calling Ensign's office. He wanted help, he said, getting back $23,000 he lost in a Mexican land scam. When Ensign's staff found they couldn't help him, McCusker continued calling the office. He eventually came in and handed staffers a note that said "Justice or Death" and claimed he had a gun.

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"Alright, so here's what we're doing," says the man behind the camera as he navigates through a dark parking lot. "We're examining the torture of students. We're looking at students who have been tortured. Their low income pay in two wars. The war that we are in right now is currently illegal under the Constitution. What makes it illegal is the currency. The date is also wrong. It's impossible for it to be that date, it's mind control."

That's how a video Jared Lee Loughner posted on YouTube in September titled "Pima Community College School - Genocide/Scam - Free Education - Broken United States Constitution," begins. It's the video that ultimately got Loughner, the gunman allegedly behind the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and the murder of six others, suspended from the school.

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Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who is proposing a bill to allow members of Congress to carry guns in the Capitol and D.C., explained today: "Saying guns are the problem is like saying spoons are what make people fat. Maybe we'll need to regulate the size of spoons."

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On the seventh round of balloting, the Republican National Committee elected Reince Priebus to be its next chairman.

Priebus won 97 votes, followed by Saul Anuzis with 43 and Maria Cino with 28. Michael Steele and Ann Wagner dropped out earlier.

Priebus becomes the 65th chair of the RNC, and takes over a committee that had something of a tumultuous two years with Steele at the helm.

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After slipping into last place in the RNC chairman's race, Missouri Republican Ann Wagner has dropped out, and released her supporters to back...nobody in particular.

"It is time that this committee heal and unify and remember that it is our job to beat Barack Obama in 2012," Wagner said. "I release my supporters, because I respect this process, very, very much, to do what they feel they should do in their heart."

If five of her backers move into Reince Priebus' camp, and he bleeds no support, he'll wrap this thing up.

Ok, we're getting down to the wire here at the RNC chairman's election. In the sixth ballot, Reince Priebus has consolidated the support of 80 committee members. He needs 85.

The full tally:

Priebus: 80 Anuzis: 37 Cino: 34 Wagner: 17

Steele's endorsement of Maria Cino went nowhere, but she's still too close to Anuzis to fathom all three of them teaming up to take Priebus down.

After ballot five, some real movement.

The overall tally, in descending order:

Priebus: 67 Cino: 40 Wagner: 28 Anuzis: 32 Anonymous, Ineligible Write-In: 1

Steele's bid to throw support to Maria Cino doesn't seem to have worked out exactly as he planned. Instead it appears that under half of his supporters broke for Cino, the rest for Priebus. Now Priebus is really closing in on the magic number, 85. It's a question of whether Wagner and Anuzis supporters accept him as Steele's successor, or decide to play queenmaker for Cino.

Michael Steele just dropped out of his race for a second term as RNC chairman and threw his support to Maria Cino, who came in second place after the fourth ballot here at the GOP's winter meeting in National Harbor, MD.

"I will step aside because I think the party is ready for something different," Steele said.

Thus ended Steele's at times disastrous, at times hilarious, at times gobsmacking tenure as the face of the Republican party.

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