TPM News

UPDATED: This article has been updated to include a statement from Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.

In a conference call on Wednesday morning, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry endorsed President Barack Obama for reelection.

“We believe in a country that invests in good jobs here at home,” she said as she announced the union’s support. “We think President Barack Obama is going to help make that vision a reality in our country.”

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina was pleased with the endorsement. “SEIU and the President share many common goals – chief among them a belief that we must do everything we can to create good-paying American jobs and a fair economic foundation that will let all workers succeed,” he told TPM. “Throughout the next year we’ll employ that same energy and unity, working together to do everything we can to ensure the President has four more years to strengthen middle-class families’ economic security.”

Yvonne Richardson, an SEIU leader from Florida told reporters “I will be doing everything in my power to see that [Obama] is elected into office.” Richardson emphasized that the SEIU would be “visible” in aiding voter turnout efforts in Florida.

Mary Kay Henry added that the SEIU would be keeping a careful eye on voter suppression efforts, and would fight to ensure that every American voter has a voice.

There were several references made to the 99% during the call. When asked if the timing of the endorsement had to do with recent developments in the OWS protests, Henry downplayed the connection. “For us, ‘we are the 99%’ is a spontaneous response,” she said. “We see it as our act of solidarity with the movement.”

Responding to reports that housing giant Freddie Mac paid him $1.6 million, GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich said he didn’t know exactly how the transaction came to be.

“I have no idea about the details… It was paid to Gingrich Group. Gingrich Group has many clients,” said Gingrich.

"My life has taken a bit of a turn," lobbyist-turned-felon-turned-reform advocate Jack Abramoff told the crowd assembled in Tucker Carlson's living room in Northwest D.C. on Tuesday night. "I used to be a right-wing guy who sort of disdained the New York Times, 60 Minutes and Michael Moore. Now, I'm happy to be on 60 Minutes, I love the pieces in the New York Times and Michael Moore is my new best friend."

Meet Abramoff 2.0. Sixteen months after his prison term from the most infamous Washington corruption case in recent memory ended, Abramoff was addressing an audience of journalists and friends about how his world has been turned upside down. In the midst of a publicity tour for his book Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist -- Twitter feed, Facebook page, snazzy website, the works -- Abramoff said he knows his new stances on reform aren't earning him any friends.

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Late update, Nov. 16, 2:11PM: The Secret Service announced the suspect was taken into custody in Pennsylvania.

The Secret Service searched Occupy D.C. on Monday for a man suspected of firing bullets at the White House on Friday, one of which was stopped by the building's ballistic glass.

Protestor Ralph Wittenberg told TPM on Tuesday evening that authorities came through "searching for a so-called terrorist who shot at the White House, with no warrant, they went into everybody's tents."

A person handling media requests for Occupy DC confirmed the searches and said they were led by the Secret Service. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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There's little mystery as to where Rick Perry came up with his new plan to halve Congressional salaries and keep legislators out of DC for half the year. It's how the Texas governor's own state operates.

"When they're not here it is necessarily limited government," Perry staffer Will Franklin said Tuesday, describing Texas' legislature on a conference call with bloggers. "It's limited government by design because they're not here messing things up. And thats the idea."

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CBO Director Doug Elmendorf's testimony before the Senate Budget Committee Tuesday was full of bad news for the unemployed, and thus for President Obama. This is the stuff Republicans blasted out to reporters: Unemployment will likely be sky high through next year, GDP growth has been and will continue to be anemic.

But his prepared remarks confirm this is in part a product of the GOP's unwillingness to pass the big-ticket items in Obama's jobs bill. And they also imply that the GOP's economic counter-proposals would do almost nothing to actually improve things.

Here's a chart that lays out pretty clearly:

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Herman Cain would be so proud.

The final version of the House and Senate's agriculture spending bill bucks recommendations by the Department of Agriculture to try to make school lunches healthier. The bill counts pizza sauce as a vegetable -- as it is now -- and resists efforts by the Agriculture Department to limit servings of starchy vegetables and sodium restrictions.

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Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Linddsey Graham (R-SC) both discussed the 2012 GOP primary with Roll Call on Tuesday.

“New Hampshire voters are really going to make up their mind in the last two weeks. I saw it in my primary,” Ayotte said. “I do reflect on my own primary, because I was the frontrunner throughout, and the last two weeks things really narrowed in my race. By no means, even though I think Gov. Romney is the frontrunner right now, is this race over.”

Graham agreed with his colleague from New Hampshire, and added that his state’s primary remains “wide open” as well. Graham added that he was thinking about declining to endorse a candidate, as fellow South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint ® has.

The pair of senators said that Cain would continue to face scrutiny, not only for the old sexual harassment allegations but for his policy positions.

“He’s going to have to convince people that he’s conversant in foreign policy and knows the world well enough to be commander in chief,” Graham said.

A Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College Survey shows that 58 percent of respondents think Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker should be recalled. The poll was released the same day Democrats kicked off their recall efforts against Walker.

Via Associated Press.

New data released Wednesday by Gallup shows that a plurality of Americans, 47 percent, think the new health care law should be repealed, versus 42 who think it should be kept. The Supreme Court recently announced it would hear a challenge to the law’s constitutionality next year.

From Gallup:

Views on this issue are highly partisan, with Republicans strongly in favor of repeal and the large majority of Democrats wanting the law kept in place...At the same time, half of Americans say the federal government should be responsible for making sure all Americans have health insurance, underscoring the divided nature of public opinion on this issue. About one in four American adults at this point have government-provided health insurance, making it clear that the issue going forward is the degree to which government should be involved in healthcare in the years ahead, rather than whether the government should get out of the healthcare business altogether.