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Democrats and their allies think they can win next year on the message that the House Republican caucus has spent time trying to restrict abortion rather than pass economic legislation the public wants like President Obama's jobs act.

And so, as the House GOP voted to send HR 358 -- which critics say would allow hospitals to let a woman die rather than receive an abortion that could save her life -- to the Senate Thursday night, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was already targeting the Republicans who supported it.

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The Federal Communications Commission urged AT&T on Thursday to provide data to show how its propsed merger with T-Mobile would impact employment.

The commission's Wireless Bureau Chief Rick Kaplan on Thursday fired off a letter to AT&T's outside Counsel Richard Rosen at the law firm Arnold & Porter asking the company to provide the commission with detailed information.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he's so committed to defense spending, he'd overturn key provisions of the debt ceiling deal to protect it.

In a Capitol press conference Thursday, McCain told reporters he'd be "among the first" to suggest ignoring any cuts to defense that would take place if the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called "Super Committee") fails to produce a plan by Nov. 23.

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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2000 who later crossed party lines to support Republican John McCain in 2008, has a column in the Washington Post -- standing up for Republican contender Mitt Romney, against attacks over Romney's Mormon religion.

Lieberman's column discusses his own experience in 2000, as the first practicing Jew on a national ticket, and the place that he believes religion should have in American public discourse, balanced with the individual's freedom of religion.

He then writes:

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Herman Cain got a strong -- and surprising -- vote of confidence from one of the Republican party's leading strategy lights, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

"He is likable," He said on the Laura Ingraham Show, according to The Hill. "He does not give you the impression that he is full of himself, but rather than he is a straight-talkin' person who, will tell you, he call it like he sees them. He's not trying to sugar coat anything and at the same time he is not trying to be shrill and a chest beater. He's a straight talker and I think that makes him very, very attractive to people."

Barbour's Cain backing should raises eyebrows given that the ex-RGA chair has worked closely with fellow governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in the past. Barbour has come to Perry's defense at several key points in the race, most recently pushing back against New Jersey Governor and Romney backer Chris Christie's demand he repudiate an anti-Mormon supporter. That Barbour, who is considered a pragmatic party builder, wouldn't give Perry a vote of confidence at such a critical point in his campaign is a pretty jarring. The best he could muster on Perry's behalf in the interview was "90% of what matters in this nomination contest is still to happen."

It's also becoming clear that he's not a big fan of Romney. In the same interview, Barbour threw a light jab at him over his Massachusetts health care law.

"Well politically you can probably play it either way, but I think substantively, here's Haley Barbour's view, we don't want Romneycare is Mississippi," he said. "It is not a good solution for us, but frankly if that's good for Massachusetts and they want it and it works for them, that's their business."

Earlier this week, Barbour said in a forum that "Mitt is less conservative than most Republicans."

The long, messy case of the lost iPhone 4 prototype that ended up on the front page of gadget blog Gizmodo in 2010 finally came to its conclusion this week, when the two young men who recovered the device and sold it to Gizmodo for $5,000 were sentenced to probation and community service.

Brian John Hogan, 22, and Sage Robert Wallower, 28, plead no contest to misdemeanor theft charges in San Mateo County Superior Court on Tuesday for their role in the year-plus long saga. In turn, they received a year of probation, 40 hours of community service and were ordered to pay Apple a combined $250 in restitution, The Wall Street Journal reported.

That sentence is substantially less than what prosecuting attorneys wanted, CNET reported:

"We asked for some jail time," Steve Wagstaffe, the district attorney, said today. "The judge considered that Wallower had served in the armed forces and Hogan was enrolled in San Jose State, and neither had any criminal record, and decided that jail time wasn't required. Someone from my office called Apple's general counsel. This is a fairly routine theft case. This was a couple of youthful people who should have known better."

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Listening to Congressional leaders these days, it's easy to forget that over a year ago Republicans put the budget at the top of the legislative agenda, and swamped Democrats at the polls with a simple question: "Where are the jobs?!"

For better or worse those issues are now inextricably linked. By consensus, job creation measures will have to be paid for, and doing anything substantial to help the economy now will require passing a larger and more equitable package of deficit-reducing policies than Republicans ever wanted.

Thus, the imperatives of the moment are issues Democrats want to tackle -- both for ideological reasons and out of political necessity. Their roles have flipped, in other words, with Democrats demanding swift action on the economy and deficits, and Republicans slinking into the background on both issues.

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More than a few conservatives have expressed (at least) extreme skepticism at Herman Cain's 999 tax plan.

Rep. Paul "Medicare Voucher System" Ryan (R-WI) is not among them. "We need more bold ideas like this because it is specific and credible," Ryan told the Daily Caller Thursday. "I'm more of a flat-tax kind of a guy."

It's fortunate that Ryan has so much love for Cain -- because Cain certainly is sending good vibrations Ryan's way.

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