TPM News

Barack Obama made waves last week when he sang a few bars of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at an Apollo Theater fundraiser. Now the campaign is offering the tune as a free ring tone.

At a roundtable briefing with a handful of reporters Monday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Republicans will step up oversight of the Obama administration ahead of the election.

“I think that the members are focused on responding to the Speaker’s call for oversight,” Cantor said. “That is a role that this Congress and the House can play, and do so effectively, as we are engaged in a national discussion surrounding the upcoming election in November. The oversight will be focused on the economy, it will be focused really on the lack of leadership on the part of this administration.”

Cantor declined to elaborate on the specific areas Republicans will focus their inquiries. “Stay tuned,” he said.

Florida Republican Vern Buchanan's campaign claims he was vindicated by the Federal Election Commission investigation into allegations he was involved with illegally reimbursing employees of his car dealerships for donations to his political campaign. But a review of the full FEC file on his case, posted on the FEC website, last week, paints a murkier picture.

For one, the FEC originally "found reason to believe" that Buchanan "knowingly and willfully" accepted excessive contributions as well as contributions routed through another person. A subsequent report by the FEC general counsel only found that there wasn't sufficient available testimony or evidence to support the allegations and the commissioners voted to close the file on Feb. 1, 2011.

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Tea party conservatives are fearful that Mitt Romney could harm the Republican Party brand that the movement has sought to recast post-George W. Bush, a top FreedomWorks staffer tells TPM. He concedes that the reason conservatives haven't rallied behind one of his opponents is because they see no clear right-wing alternative who's also electable.

"If you nominate a Romney who is sort of a moderate and doesn't seem to believe in anything -- he's not authentic -- that can do a lot of damage to the brand of the Republican Party, which we are trying to rehabilitate," said Brendan Steinhauser, the director of federal and state campaigns of FreedomWorks, the 1.5 million member Dick Armey-led group that has played a key role in shifting the Republican Party to the right.

"If he gets nominated he could be like George W. Bush or John McCain and disappoint voters who are starting to warm to Republicans," Steinhauser told TPM.

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Washington state has enough votes to legalize same sex marriage, after Democratic Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen said she will support the measure, the AP reports. The state’s House has enough support and Gov. Chris Gregoire has endorsed the plan.

Mitt Romney needs to up his game in the debates and has brought on top debate coach and former advisor to the Bachmann campaign Brett O’Donnell, reports the New York Times.

“Brett’s been working with us for some time, since Michele Bachmann got out of the race,” said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney.

Mr. O’Donnell is a veteran of presidential debates, having served as a top debate coach to Senator John McCain of Arizona during the 2008 campaign. In that role, he helped prepare Mr. McCain for debates against Mr. Romney and brings those insights to the current sessions.

By Antony Ingram

It's pretty difficult to feel sorry for oil companies.

Why should we? They're in control of a resource we all depend upon, one way or another, and can essentially charge whatever they like for it. As a result, they make massive profits every year. Nobody pities the rich guy.

But maybe we feel a little sorry for them in this case. Why? Because last year, reports The New York Times, companies that supply motor fuel paid $6.8 million in penalties to the EPA for not mixing a special type of biofuel - that doesn't exist - into their gasoline and diesel.

Call us crazy libertarians if you will, but it seems perhaps a little unfair to be fined for a situation you have absolutely no control over.

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Newt Gingrich, speaking in Tampa, Florida said that Mitt Romney’s edge slipping after six years of campaigning is making the former governor “desperate.”

“It used to be pious baloney, but now it’s just desperate baloney,” Gingrich added. “Perhaps he’ll be able to open a delicatessen.”