TPM News

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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Chuck Norris is back.  Norris, who came to the political fore after endorsing Mike Huckabee during the 2008 campaign, has returned with an ad, sponsored by the NRA, to "trigger" the vote.  Get it?  Sort of like reload but slightly less threatening.  In the spot Norris visits a local tea party (complete with chalkboard!) and 'triggers' them to vote.

Also taking a page from the Sarah Palin vernacular is the introduction of the Blue Cougar, a "Blougar."  In regular language, a grandma who's ready to kick the ass of anyone who wants to take away her rights.  Presumably, the next step for the Mama Grizzlies.  Watch below.  

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So what should we make of the withdrawal of independent candidate Bud Chiles from the Florida gubernatorial race, and his endorsement of Democratic nominee Alex Sink? At first glance, it would seem that this is a pure plus for Dems -- but a closer look shows that it's not so totally cut and dry.

Chiles, a son of the late Dem Gov. Lawton Chiles, had been promoting children's issues and clean energy in his bid -- the sort of stuff that would make you think he would draw Dem voters. And he was having at least some success there. An August 19 Quinnipiac poll of a three-way race between Sink, Republican Rick Scott and Chiles showed the independent taking 13% of the Dem vote -- compared to 7% of the Republican vote.

Chiles said last week that he thought the upset win in the Republican primary by right-wing former health care executive Rick Scott would help his own campaign. But he also made it clear which candidate he would prefer if he couldn't get traction himself: "I'll say this till the end: I'm not in this race to create a situation where Rick Scott becomes governor."

The TPM Poll Average of the three-way race gives Sink the lead with 40.9%, followed by Scott at 36.7%, and Chiles with only 7.7%.

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Word on the street is that Elizabeth Warren has somewhat abruptly decided not to teach at Harvard this fall. "I'm writing to let you know that Professor Jerry Frug will be teaching your Contracts class this term instead of Professor Elizabeth Warren," Harvard law school dean Martha Minow wrote to students on Tuesday, in an e-mail The Washington Post snagged. "Professor Warren regrets that she will not be able to teach you this fall and we regret the last minute change."

The development has already touched off a great deal of speculation about whether Warren has been told she'll get the top job at the consumer financial protection bureau. But in a way this development mirrors the story of Dawn Johnsen -- a progressive favorite, who President Obama initially tapped to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. After she got the nomination, Johnsen uprooted herself from Indiana University only to watch the White House and Senate Democrats decide not to fight for her confirmation.

Progressives with long memories won't be counting their chickens.

Jeff Greene, the defeated Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Florida and current anti-media crusader, says he's on a mission to break the cabal of reporters who he says have dominated Florida politics for too long. His $500 million lawsuit against two prominent Florida papers, he told me yesterday, is his new quest to set Florida on the right path.

"To me this is just as important as running for office," Greene said of his libel suits against the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times. The billionaire investor claims that his multi-million dollar campaign for the Democratic nomination went down in flames, in part, due to reporting that was at best shoddy and at worst out-and-out biased. Greene seemed more inclined to believe the latter, suggesting that one reporter, the Times' venerated political correspondent Adam Smith, was more interested in taking down Greene than reporting the facts.

"It is our firm opinion that the allegations in this lawsuit are preposterous," Times editor Neil Brown said in a statement. "We believe Jeff Greene is a sore loser and he's blaming the newspapers because he can't accept the verdict of the voters."

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