TPM News

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, whose tumultuous two-year stewardship ended earlier this year, has been hired by MSNBC as a political analyst, NBC announced in a statement this morning.

Steele has been a frequent guest on MSNBC, and will now apear regularly in their discussion panels to offer commentary. Previous reports had indicated Steele was also in talks with CNN and Fox News to land a TV deal.

"It's an honor to contribute and engage in the dialogue on MSNBC," Steele said in a statement about his new position. "I look forward to engaging a diverse audience to share insights and analysis about the people, issues, and events shaping America's future. I'm sure our discussions will be both informative and a bit spirited!"

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The right of return is apparently not as simple as sending your pizza back.

In his first major television interview as a Republican presidential candidate, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain stumbled badly on an issue near and dear to GOP hearts: the unconditional support for the state of Israel and its political leaders.

Cain, who has been suggested as a potential Tea Party spoiler in the nomination fight, stopped by Fox News Sunday to talk about his campaign on the morning after he launched it. He walked away bruised and requiring the requisite walkback statement from his staff that has been a hallmark of GOP campaign rollouts lately.

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Asked by reporters Monday about the $250,000 to $500,000 debt owed to Tiffany & Co. that was reported on his wife's financial disclosure forms in 2006, Newt Gingrich noted he paid off the bill in full and tried to make the case that the White House could learn a thing or two from his household's fiscal responsibility.

"On the Tiffany's thing I'm totally mystified," he said. "I owe no personal debts. None. Of course I paid off our house, we paid off our cars, we run four small businesses, we happen to be successful. We reported accurately what we were doing, it's all after tax income, none of it isn't publicly known. If Obama followed our pattern on fiscal responsibility the United States would currently be running a surplus and buying back debt from the Chinese."

Gingrich has declined to provide details about the debt. The issue came up again Monday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington attended by reporters.

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One day ahead of a special congressional election to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Chris Lee (R) in a traditionally red district, a new PPP poll finds Democrat Kathy Hochul on top by six points.

Among likely voters, Hochul came in at 42%, followed by Republican Jane Corwin at 36%, and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis at 13%.

Democrats have sought to use the election as a referendum on the Republican plan to privatize Medicare, a plan that polls have shown is politically poisonous. Hochul has repeatedly slammed Corwin for saying she would support the Ryan plan, and Democratic group House Majority PAC ran ads also targeting Corwin's avowed backing of that plan.

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Within less than a month, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has gone from thanking God that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) had proposed phasing out Medicare to penning a blistering op-ed explaining why he now opposes the idea.

Brown now says he'll vote against the House GOP budget when Democrats bring it up for a vote in the Senate, completing the walkback he began shortly after he said he'd vote for the plan. He explains his final views in a Monday Politico op-ed, becoming the first high-profile, moderate Republican to actively explain his opposition -- and his critique sounds an awful lot like the one Democrats are making.

"I cannot support his specific plan -- and therefore will vote "no" on his budget," Brown writes. "First, I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support-- and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays. Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform."

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Obama In Ireland To Hold Talks On Trade Reuters reports: "President Barack Obama, starting a four-nation tour of Europe in Ireland on Monday, said he wanted to encourage bilateral trade and would do all he could to help the country's economic recovery. Obama will also explore his Irish roots, making a brief visit to a village that was home to his great-great-great grandfather."

Obama's Day In Ireland The President and first Lady arrived in Dublin, Ireland, at 9:35 a.m. Irish Standard Time (4:35 a.m. ET). At 10:15 a.m. IST, they arrived at the President's Residence and signed the guest book, and met at 10:25 a.m. IST with President Mary McAleese and her husband Dr. Martin McAleese. They participated in a tree planting ceremony at 10:50 a.m. IST. Obama held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Enda Kenny at 11:15 a.m. IST. The President and First Lady attended a U.S. Embassy meet and greet at 1:20 p.m. IST. The President and First Lady will visit Moneygall, Ireland, at 3:15 p.m. IST. Obama will deliver remarks at an Irish Celebration at College Green, Dublin, at 5:30 p.m. IST.

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Ask the voters and they'll tell you: Social Security cuts are off the table when it comes to cleaning up the budget mess in Washington.

Fresh polling from Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Minnesota published first by TPM show voters in the states overwhelmingly oppose any cuts to the Social Security entitlement program, even in the name of reducing the national debt. The coalition of progressive groups which sponsored the survey say the polls send a clear message to the Democratic Senate incumbents up for reelection in each state: cut Social Security and you'll incur the wrath of an angry electorate.

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For years, Newt Gingrich has been laying the groundwork for a presidential run by raising money, producing films, and building up his profile in the national media. Somewhere along the way, however, he forgot to find supporters.

Newt's lack of any prominent surrogates has proven disastrous over the past week as he's tried to save his campaign from one of the most difficult rollouts in recent memory. While Republicans of all stripes pilloried him in the press and Democrats gleefully cheered them on, Gingrich stood alone with few -- if any -- high-profile names stepping up to defend him.

But it's no surprise to critics, former colleagues, and even some campaign backers to see Newt going it alone. As even a cursory look at his career reveals, Gingrich has left behind a trail of intense rivalries, simmering grudges, and wafer-thin core support that has left him with few friends to carry out his campaign.

"He burned a lot of bridges," conservative fundraising guru Richard Viguerie told TPM. "He has that type of personality. ... He's done it in his personal life, in his political career. There's just certain wires there that don't connect."

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Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), who was set to officially announce his presidential campaign Monday in Iowa after a two-month exploratory committee phase, has now made it official one day early -- in another dramatic YouTube video.

The video opens with a computer screen, as a person off-camera is typing in a Google search: "How to tell America you're running for President?" -- a copy of Google's TV ads.

"I could give a speech, and tell you I was running for president," Pawlenty is heard in a voice-over. "I could have a podium with my campaign logo on it. I could have balloons -- red ones, white ones, and blue ones. I could pass out stickers and cupcakes." Meanwhile, the screen shows various depictions of all those things.

"I could promise that we can eliminate a $14 trillion debt, create jobs for 10 million people, restructure social Security and health care -- all without making any tough decisions.

"Or -- I could try something different. I could just tell you the truth.

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