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A candidate for state office in South Carolina drew 500 people to a fundraiser Saturday that included the giveaway of a $700 AK-47 semiautomatic rifle.

Dean Allen charged $25 a pop for his "machine-gun social," which included the giveaway, 20 rounds to shoot in a machine gun of your choice and a barbecue, held at an indoor shooting range in Greenville. Allen, a Republican, is running for adjutant general, a position that includes administering the Army and Air National Guard, among other things.

"All of our rights ... are predicated on supporting the Second Amendment. That's what makes America a free country," he said today on MSNBC. (Video after the jump.)

"I like to tell people I'm not the country club conservative," Allen told the Greenville News. "I'm the machine gun one."

A web ad for the fundraiser says the event includes 10 minutes of training, "So you don't shoot a right-wing radical by mistake."

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The public option-stakes will continue this week, with most eyes on the developments in the Finance Committee. But on the other side of the Hill, progressives continue to insist that, whatever happens in the Senate, one chamber still insists that health care legislation include a public option.

In a new op-ed, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus blasts the proposal written by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) saying it's "all about the insurance industry's bottom line: no teeth in enforcements and regulations, endless patent hoarding for the pharmaceutical industry and laws that rein in citizens to pay these industries the largest transfer of wealth in history," and adding that a bill without a public option would be "unacceptable".

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The Club For Growth is now officially throwing a monkey wrench into Republican efforts to hold on in the NY-23 special election, endorsing Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman and denouncing the regular GOP nominee.

The Club's press release presents Hoffman as the real conservative in the race -- and says that Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava is no different from the Democratic candidate:

Hoffman, a certified public accountant and managing partner at a Lake Placid accounting firm, has sworn-off Congressional earmarks and pledged to oppose all tax increases if elected - a clear distinction among the candidates in this three-way contest. In fact, Scozzafava and Democrat Bill Owens both favor higher taxes, bigger government, and more spending, including President Obama's failed "stimulus" package and big labor's odious "Card Check" bill.

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When Census worker Bill Sparkman was found dead earlier this month, he was naked and gagged, with duct tape over his eyes. Duct tape also bound Sparkman's hands and feet.

That's according to the man who found him, Jerry Weaver, who spoke to the AP over the weekend. Weaver, who lives in Ohio, was in Clay County, Kentucky for a family reunion, and was visiting some family graves with his wife and daughter when he found Sparkman's body on September 12th.

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Looks like we can put to bed -- for now -- any speculation that White House Counsel Gregory Craig has been taken off the President's plan to close Gitmo.

At his press briefing today, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "There are a number of people who are working on it, Greg being one of them -- and talked to the President about Guantanamo earlier today."

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) seems to be taking an interesting approach in the aftermath of his "You lie!" outburst during President Obama's speech to Congress: On the one hand he wants to put it all behind him -- and on the other hand, he does seem to be enjoying the limelight and the support of Republican activists.

Here's a report from the Beauford Gazette, of a Wilson visit to a local Republican event:

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson told members of the Hilton Head Island Republican Club on Sunday that he wants to "close the book on things that have happened in the past" -- hinting at his outburst during President Barack Obama's speech to Congress on health care reform -- and instead focus on health care and other issues facing the nation.


Wilson handed out "Let's Go Joe" stickers, while club members circled around and showered him with support. Many noted the array of signs for him at recent rallies and at the TEA Party March on Washington on Sept. 12.

He said that among his personal favorites were signs that said, "Joe Wilson, the Truth Tzar."

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at a briefing this afternoon that "the least" Iran can do at its Oct. 1 meeting with the United States and its allies is to "agree to immediate, unfettered access" to its secret nuclear site. That means access to the facility itself, personnel and documents related to the nuclear facility, Gibbs said.

That's certainly what we would hope that Iran is willing to do to engage in full transparency and to demonstrate for the world that it will give up its nuclear weapons program and ensure that whatever it does is in the peaceful pursuit of nuclear energy.

"This is an important day and an important week for the Iranians," Gibbs said. "They have decisions to make."

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Two telling indicators suggest that, despite a true 60 vote majority, the public option may nonetheless face an uphill climb in the Senate. On Friday, during a tele-townhall, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told an audience of constituents that he thinks a "triggered" public option is a "pretty doggone good idea"--not as good as a robust public option, but better than the private co-op proposal that for a time was regarded as a likely compromise between Democrats, who support a public option, and Republicans, who do not support health care reform.

Today, citing anonymous Democratic sources, the New York Times reports that Reid will likely not include a public option in a final legislative proposal when he merges the Finance and HELP committee bills.

Officially, Reid says it's too early to have decided what will and will not be included in the package he introduces on the Senate floor--the public option will get more than one vote in the Finance Committee this week, and only if it fails (as is expected) will Reid have to decide whether to incorporate it from the HELP bill, or to drop it.

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Clark Hoyt, The New York Times' public editor, criticized the newspaper over the weekend for taking too long to recognize the importance of the video sting that caught ACORN workers telling a right-wing activists posing as a pimp and prostitute how to deceive the government.

"It was an intriguing story: employees of a controversial outfit, long criticized by Republicans as corrupt, appearing to engage in outrageous, if not illegal, behavior," Hoyt wrote. The Times, however, "stood still."

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