TPM News

Club for Growth, the conservative group that bankrolled Doug Hoffman's failed candidacy in NY-23, has, not surprisingly, set its sights on Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) today with an ad that will air on Florida television.

The ad attacks Crist for supporting the stimulus and speaking in favor of it at rallies with President Obama. It claims "200,000 Floridians have lost their jobs" since the stimulus passed.

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At the Capitol Hill Tea Party just now, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) stepped up to lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance -- which he said drives the liberals crazy.

"And so as we now renew our commitment to the Red, White and Blue, let us with boldness proclaim the fact that we are one nation under God," said Akin. "It is altogether fitting that we should do this -- and it drives the liberals crazy."

The crowd laughed, and joined Akin in the Pledge, with a genuine shout given to the key words, "...one nation, UNDER GOD, with liberty..."

Other Republican members of Congress were on stage, too: Minority Leader John Boehner (OH), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (VA), Roy Blunt (MO), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Michele Bachmann (MN) -- who was a key organizer of the event -- Virginia Foxx (NC), Ginny Brown-Waite (FL), Jean Schmidt (OH), Sue Myrick (NC), and many more.

The Capitol Hill Tea Party crowd is now at roughly 8,000 people.

A TPM reader texts to us that the subway to the Capitol is clogged with protestors. Hundreds of people are still streaming in.

Late Update: NBC's Luke Russert says a Capitol policeman just gave a crowd estimate of 3,000-3,500.

At her weekly press conference this morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bucked the conservative spin that Tuesday's election was a boon to the GOP by noting that the results actually make health care reform easier for her to pass.

"Tuesday night we won two more votes for health care," Pelosi said. Both candidates won, she noted, amid a flurry of anti-reform ads in their districts and, despite the fact that one of the new members hails from a red-leaning district, both will vote for the plan.

"Bill Owens will be a great representative, independent voice, for his district," Pelosi said this.

She also took aim at the Republican health care plan, denouncing it in no uncertain terms.

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Former NYC police commissioner and Rudy Giuliani crony Bernie Kerik today pleaded guilty to lying during his vetting to become George W. Bush's Secretary of Homeland Security. It was the first of eight expected pleas, in exchange for which prosecutors will suggest 27 to 33 months in prison, the AP reports.

The pleas by Kerik, who has been in prison since Oct. 20 when a judge revoked his bail for giving out sealed information, are designed to resolve three separate criminal cases.

In the White House case, Kerik was accused of falsely denying to Bush vetters that he had an improper relationship with city contractors who performed pricey renovations on Kerik's Bronx apartment.

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The House ethics committee will likely clear five Democratic members of Congress including Charlie Rangel (D-NY) of wrongdoing in an investigation into whether a privately financed trip to the Caribbean broke House travel rules, Roll Call reports this morning.

The case, which involves a trip the members took on the dime of the Carib News Foundation, is perhaps the flimsiest in the slew of ethics charges against Rangel.

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Today's big Capitol Hill Tea Party, promoted by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), is getting ready to begin this morning, and already about 1,000 people are there, many of them arriving on buses sent by the event's organizers. This is not like the failed flash-mob from last week -- it's a seriously organized protest.

Attendees are set to go inside the Capitol itself, and personally lobby members of Congress to oppose the Democrats' health care bill. Many of them are carrying the Gadsden Flag and other protest signs. There is no sign of any increased security on Capitol Hill, which some Tea Partiers and their supporters had warned about.

One attendee was a man named Keith, a disabled veteran from Goldsboro, North Carolina, bused in this morning with about 50 other people from his area, and who was carrying an empty suit on a pole. "Look, the lights are on but nobody's home in there," said Keith, pointing at the Capitol. asked if that was directed at any specific people in Congress, he replied: "Pick one."

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Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), a candidate in the GOP primary for Governor of Georgia, has announced that he is signing a letter to the White House with several of his colleagues -- asking for a copy of President Obama's birth certificate.

Deal made the announcement this morning in an online chat held by his campaign, when asked by Tom Crawford of the Georgia Report (subscription required):

[Comment From Tom Crawford]
Do you believe that Barack Obama is a native-born American citizen who is eligible to serve as president? I am asking because your comments on this issue have been a little ambiguous. I would appreciate your clearing this up.

Nathan Deal - I am joining several of my colleagues in the House in writing a letter to the President asking that he release a copy of his birth certificate so we can have an answer to this question.


Deal's campaign spokesman Harris Blackwood confirmed the authenticity of the chat to TPM, explaining the Congressman's comment: "There have been so many constituents, a lot of people have asked him, they ask him on the campaign trail. Let's just get an answer, that's all we're saying, not suggesting anything to the contrary."

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