TPM News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration is firing back at his former Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, who said yesterday that he was defamed by the Governor.

Christie said Schundler was fired because he misled the governor about the events leading up to the state's loss of a $400 million education grant. But a timeline released by Schundler yesterday made the case that he had been honest with Christie about the mistake, and told the Governor not to say at at news conference last week that Schundler had tried to submit additional information to correct the mistake.

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The new survey of the Ohio Senate race from Public Policy Polling (D) shows Republican Rob Portman taking the lead against Democrat Lee Fisher -- and being helped immensely by the enthusiasm gap of Republicans being far more motivated to vote than Democrats are.

The numbers: Portman 45%, Fisher 38%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. In the previous PPP survey from late June, Fisher had an edge of 40%-38%. The TPM Poll Average gives Portman a lead of 44.8%-40.4%.

A key tell is that in the June poll, respondents said that they voted for Obama in 2008 by a margin of 50%-44%. (This question never adds up to 100%, because some voters will not divulge their past choice, and others are new to the electorate.) In the new poll, though, respondents said they voted for John McCain, by a 48%-45% margin -- in a state that Obama actually carried by 51%-47%.

"Democrats almost everywhere are suffering not just from independents leaning toward Republicans but from a base problem--fewer of their voters are planning to show up at the polls than even in usual midterm elections, and those who do are not as unified around their nominees as are Republican voters around theirs," writes PPP president Dean Debnam. "Lee Fisher has to galvanize his base to win this race. If only 40% of the electorate is Democrats, and only 70% of them vote for him, he loses."

Dottie Sue Maggart-Feldmen, a former campaign aide to surprise South Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Alvin Greene, has accused the beleaguered Dem of calling a local man a "fat white f*ggot." Maggart-Feldman alleges that Greene made that comment while she was riding in a car with him, and she later relayed the tale by leaving a voicemail for the man who the alleged comments were about.

Greene denies that he made that remark, and said Maggart-Feldmen, who resigned over the alleged comment, is "a troublemaker, a troublemaker. And that's all."

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The outgoing chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers acknowledged yesterday that the Democrats' recovery efforts have been insufficient, and that part of the reason was that the administration underestimated the severity of the economic recession.

"[C]ompared with the problems we face, the turnaround has been insufficient," said Christina Romer at the National Press Club in a farewell address of sorts. "Though the unemployment rate has come down six-tenths of a percentage point, it is still nine-and-a-half percent -- an unacceptable level by any metric."

"[W]e, like virtually every other forecaster, failed to anticipate just how violent the recession would be in the absence of policy, and the degree to which the usual relationship between GDP and unemployment would break down," she added.

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The new Rasmussen poll of the Florida gubernatorial race -- a snap poll taken right after independent candidate Bud Chiles dropped out and endorsed Democratic nominee Alex Sink yesterday -- shows that the two-way race is as tight as can be.

The initial numbers give Republican nominee Rick Scott a lead of 45%-44%. After leaners were pushed, it's Sink who has a one-point edge of 48%-47%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. This is the first poll of a two-way general election race since June.

The survey would seem to suggest that Chiles's withdrawal has provided a small boost to Sink. In the previous survey from last week, Scott led Sink and Chiles by 41%-36%-8% on initial preferences. After undecided voters were pushed, as well as Chiles voters -- on the rationale that supporters of minor candidates often break away to a major candidate on election day -- Scott led by 45%-42%-4%. So for now at least, Sink has either narrowed the gap or perhaps even taken a small lead thanks to Chiles quitting the race.

The FBI met with Tennessee's Muslim leaders Monday to discuss the recent arson at a mosque site in Murfreesboro and reassure the leaders that federal officials are on the case.

As the Washington Post reports, the meeting took place at the U.S. attorney's office in Nashville. The U.S. attorney is the one who will determine whether the fire rises to the level of a hate crime or civil rights violation, and the FBI is the agency which conducts hate crimes investigations.

It's a signal that the feds are looking at the arson as a hate crime, even though they've officially said there's "no indication" that the fire qualifies.

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Sen. Barbara Boxer and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina clashed Wednesday night in their first debate, as the political novice tries to unseat the longtime senator with 28 years in Washington. Boxer (D) and Fiorina (R) sparred on their records, agreed on some social issues but provided the sharpest contrast when it came to the economy and jobs. Boxer went after Fiorina's HP record while Fiorina attacked Boxer as a liberal who has accomplished little despite her time in Washington.

Debate moderators pressed Fiorina on her abortion rights stance after she tried to deflect and said the main issue was jobs. She explained her personal reasons for being pro-life, and admitted, "not everybody agrees with me on this."

Then there was a moment that will likely be spliced into a Boxer ad for broadcast on the majority pro-choice state's airwaves.

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Last week, when tea partiers weren't chatting online about Glenn Beck's mega-rally at the Lincoln Memorial, they were cyberventilating about the threats tea party umbrella group FreedomWorks is supposedly facing from angry left-wingers. FreedomWorks told more than one reporter that a growing number of death threats received by the organization is forcing FreedomWorks to spend precious GOTV funds on an unexpected move to a "high-security" building across D.C. from their current headquarters near the FBI Building.

But the reporting on the move left out the fact that FreedomWorks' change in location also comes at the end of the group's existing lease, and -- according to one source familiar with FreedomWorks' real estate deals -- their new headquarters offers them cheaper rent than their current home. And despite reports of increased threats, the group won't be moving until months after the election is over.

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Israel, Palestinians Set For Face-To-Face Talk Reuters reports: "With a diplomatic push from President Barack Obama, Israeli and Palestinian leaders start direct peace talks on Thursday overshadowed by skepticism on all sides and violence in the volatile West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet at the State Department, relaunching talks after a 20-month hiatus and seeking a deal within one year that will set up an independent Palestinian state side-by-side with a secure Israel."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with his national security team at 11:30 a.m. ET. He will receive the economic daily briefing at 1 p.m. ET. He does not have any public events scheduled for today.

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