TPM News

Pennsylvania Democrats have selected their candidate in the special election for the House seat formerly held by the late Rep. John Murtha (D), the state party announced in a press release, choosing former Murtha chief of staff Mark Critz.

The Republican candidate will be selected Thursday night. The district was carried in 2008 by John McCain -- the only district in the country to switch from the Democratic column in 2004 to the Republicans in 2008 for the presidential vote, after having been carried 51%-48% by John Kerry.

The special election will be held on May 18, the same date as the statewide primary elections -- a factor that could potentially boost the Dems to hold the seat, as there are more contested primary races on the Democratic side than for the Republicans.

The White House issued a transcript made today of President Obama and the First Lady's remarks made at the International Women's Day Reception. Here's the full text:

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you so much. So I get to speak first while he stands and watches. I love this. (Laughter.) Look at me adoringly. (Laughter.) THE PRESIDENT: I can do that. MRS. OBAMA: With sincerity. (Laughter.) Anyway. I'm thrilled to see everybody here. Welcome, welcome. This is a wonderful event as we celebrate Women's History Month at the White House. It's so exciting. (Applause.)

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Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) submitted his letters of resignation to the House and the state of New York, officially vacating his office at 5 p.m. ET today.

Kyle Anderson, communications director for the Committee on House Administration, confirmed to TPM that Massa's resignation has taken effect, under the rules of procedure, though it will still have to be formally read before the House tomorrow. "Being laid before the House tomorrow is essentially the formal element, but the actual resignation is triggered by the letter to the state," said Anderson.

The White House issued a transcript of remarks made today after a meeting between President Obama and El Salvadorian President Funes. Here's the full text:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hello, everybody. I want to welcome President Funes and the First Lady of El Salvador to the United States. Bienvenido. We are very grateful and honored by his visit. I've been following the President since his election nine months ago and have been very favorably impressed by the steps that he's taking to try to break down political divisions within the country and move it forward with a spirit of progress and focusing on prosperity at every level of Salvadorian society.

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While Washington Republicans are running from plans to privatize Social Security, one GOP House candidate in the south loves the idea and goes a step further - calling on her primary rival to unite behind George W. Bush.

We've been tracking where House Republicans stand on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget "roadmap" and noticed at Republican candidate Angela McGlowan has been talking about it in Mississippi's 1st Congressional district. Last week TPMDC wrote about that snaring the GOP's preferred candidate, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee on camera as he dodged a question about where he stands on the Ryan plan.

McGlowan, a former Fox News commentator, is taking it a step farther. She's challenging Nunnelee to join her in support of privatization. In a release Nunnelee said she was fully embracing Bush's 2005-era plan to "save Social Security."

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A new survey of Florida Republicans by Public Policy Polling (D) has some awful news for Gov. Charlie Crist, the GOP moderate who is in a tough primary for Senate against the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

The poll will be released tomorrow, but so far PPP has put out a sneak preview. GOP primary voters were asked which of the following they would like to see doing a year from now: Governor, Senate, or out of office entirely. The answer: Governor 19%, Senate 14%, and out of office 56%. PPP's Tom Jensen writes: "If there is any path to his winning office in Florida again- and there may not be- it's as something other than a Republican."

Crist has been hammed in the Republican primary for the public support he gave to President Obama on the stimulus bill a year ago. He downplayed his support several months ago, but has recently moved back towards acknowledging his support for it, and has even criticized other Republicans who publicly opposed the stimulus but nevertheless took the money for their states. And it doesn't appear to be playing well with the GOP base. We'll have the full poll tomorrow.

As the health care reform fight enters its final days, most eyes are on about two dozen pro-life and vulnerable Democrats in the House, where the greatest number of votes remain in play. But could the fate of reform actually rest in the hands of a long-serving progressive?

House Democrats are doing whatever they can to secure the 216 votes they'll likely need to pass the Senate bill, and it's shaping up to be a squeaker. Abortion foes are threatening to defect, as are some squeamish vulnerable Dems. Balancing them out, leadership hopes, are several members who voted "no" on the House health care bill in November, but are now back in the mix--these are, for the most part, retiring members, and freshmen from competitive districts.

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A new SurveyUSA poll of Minnesota finds the state disapproving of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012. And Minnesotans don't want him to run for president, either.

The poll found Pawlenty with an approval rating of 42%, with a disapproval of 52%. Respondents were asked: "Should Governor Tim Pawlenty run for President in 2012? Or not?" The answer was yes 28%, no 63%.

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A Republican state legislator with close ties to the GOP operatives behind a slew of hardball tactics has sponsored and helped pass a bill -- almost certainly unconstitutional -- that prohibits the federal government from forcing the state's citizens to buy health insurance.

The Virginia legislature last week passed legislation, based on a model created by the American Legislative Exchange Council, that declares unconstitutional any effort to require citizens to buy health insurance -- as the health-care reform measures passed by both chambers of the U.S. Congress would do. In the state Senate, the effort was led by Sen. Jill Vogel.

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On his radio show yesterday, Rep. Eric Massa said he believes his remark to a staffer at a wedding party that "what I really ought to be doing is fracking you" was the incident that led to ethics allegations against him.

But the ethics committee -- whose investigation will end when Massa resigns later today -- has not commented on the nature of the allegations it is probing. And an unnamed Massa aide told Politico the congressman "has been engaged in inappropriate behavior 'for eight months.'"

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