TPM News

The new survey of the Florida Republican gubernatorial primary by Public Policy Polling (D) shows former healthcare executive Rick Scott with a big lead over state Attorney General Bill McCollum in the August 24 primary.

The numbers: Scott 43%, McCollum 29%. The survey of likely Republican primary voters has a ±4.9% margin of error, and there is no prior PPP survey of this matchup for direct comparison. The TPM Poll Average shows Scott leading McCollum by 42.3%-33.3%. PPP's survey of the general election showed the presumptive Democratic nominee, state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, leading both Scott and McCollum.

The poll finds that Scott's self-financing and his attacks against McCollum as a career politician have worked, while McCollum's efforts to call attention to Scott's past legal problems -- his company paid $1.7 billion in fines and legal settlements for Medicare fraud -- have not worked. Scott's personal rating among GOP primary voters is 35% favorable to 32% unfavorable, while McCollum's rating is in underwater at 26%-40%.

The Democratic Governors Association launched a new web video today as part of a "grassroots" effort to rally Democrats to "Fight The Right" ahead of November.

The video is called "Never Surrender," and it wants Dems to know that they're in the company of such luminaries as Bluto from Animal House and Aragorn from Lord Of The Rings, who both also vowed to "never give up."

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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has a simple message for House Republicans threatening to repeal or gut one of President Obama's top legislative achievements: I am calling your bluff.

At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters this morning, Geithner dismissed GOP leaders who say they'll gum up the implementation Wall Street reform if they retake the House this November, calling their threats "inconceivable."

"The reason why this bill became law was because Republicans decided they could not block it," Geithner said in response to a question from TPMDC. "That it was untenable to block it. Because they did not want to be in the position of saying they looked at a system that produced this level of disaster for the American economy -- with a system that did not work, did not serve corporate America, businesses across the country -- they did not want to be in the position of blocking change."

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The labor-backed group Americans United for Change has a new TV ad in the key Nevada Senate race, praising Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the issue of financial reform.

"The big banks spent over $400 million dollars to keep Congress from holding them accountable for the reckless speculation that cost millions of Nevadans their homes and their jobs," the announcer says. "But they couldn't buy our Senator Reid. Thanks, Senator Reid, for leading the charge to pass tough, new rules to rein in Wall Street, protect homebuyers and restore economic stability."

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Reid a narrow edge of 44.0%-43.1% over Republican former state Rep. Sharron Angle. This is thanks in large part to Angle's own missteps more than any popularity for Reid, whose approval ratings have remained low. So apparently Americans United wants to boost some of Reid's own positives.

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Amid reports that he's actively sought to block progressive darling Elizabeth Warren from being appointed to head a soon-to-be-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sung her praises to reporters today. But when pressed, he stopped short of endorsing her or saying that her nomination would please him.

"It's important to recognize that she is, I think, one of the most effective advocates for [financial] reform in the country," Geithner said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning. "She has enormous credibility.... She would be a very strong leader of this bureau, but that's a choice the President will have to make."

Geithner added that he'd not yet made an official recommendation to President Obama, but suggested one will be coming soon.

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Has Kent Conrad done an about face and become a supporter of the Republican plan to endlessly extend tax cuts for the rich? Far from it.

"The Republicans' proposal to me is a formula for the decline of the United States," Conrad said last night in response to a question from TPMDC.

Conrad is among the only Senators whose hawkish rhetoric on deficits closely matches his voting record, and he surprised many -- even senior members of his own party -- when he was quoted widely supporting a continuation of the Bush tax cuts, including for high income earners.

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Rep. Michelle Bachmann's (R-MN) House Tea Party Caucus debut yesterday mimicked the tea party movement it hopes to represent in Washington -- it was confusing, bumbling and offered a dearth of solid policy goals.

Bachmann says the caucus aims to be a "receptacle" in Washington D.C. for the tea party's frustration with spending, taxes, socialism and, uh, billboard design. But if the caucus' first day is any impression, Bachmann's group will also mirror the amateurish political organizing of the movement.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet The Tea Party Caucus]

Before yesterday's unbelievably diverse press conference introducing the caucus got underway, a Bachmann staffer handed out a list of the 28 Republicans that Bachmann's office said were members of the caucus. Before we fourth estaters could fold the thing up and dutifully bury it in a pocket somewhere, we were told the list was wrong -- it was missing Rep. John Mica (R-FL), we were told.

The trouble is, Mica isn't in the Tea Party Caucus -- as a general rule, he doesn't join caucuses ever, his staff told reporters. Turns out that wasn't the only thing wrong with the list -- or the last stumble of the caucus roll-out.

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Former Nevada state Rep. Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Senate against Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, is still getting the hang of holding a "press conference" with the media. At an event Wednesday, Angle spoke for three minutes on cutting taxes -- and then quickly left when the assembled reporters tried to ask her questions.

The funniest thing, as shown in tracking video from the Nevada Democratic Party, is that Angle's host seemingly invited the reporters to ask questions -- then Angle suddenly walked away without saying anything.

As CNN points out, the event was in fact billed as a press conference in Angle's own campaign events schedule. It should also be noted that Angle has previously said she avoids interviews with mainstream media outlets that would ask her tough questions, opting for conservative media where she can raise money from viewers.

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Shirley Sherrod said this morning on CNN that she would like to "get back at" Andrew Breitbart.

Asked if she would consider a defamation suit against Breibart, the conservative blogger who posted the edited clip that got her fired, she said, "I really think I should."

"I don't know a lot about the legal profession but that's one person I'd like to get back at, because he came at me. He didn't go after the NAACP; he came at me," she went on.

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