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Look, here's the thing -- Rand Paul's said a lot of out-there stuff over the years. So you can't expect him to be an expert on all the positions he may or may not have held. And that's just the message Paul delivered to reporters yesterday, after a candidate forum hosted by the Farm Bureau that saw the Republican nominee for Senate in Kentucky square off with his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway over issues like farm subsidies and existential questions about the sixth-largest cabinet department in the Federal government.

"On this particular issue there could not be a stronger distinction between our campaign than that of my opponent," Conway said, when asked about the future of farm policy. "My opponent has stated unequivocally that he wants to do away with the United States Department of Agriculture and he wants to end farm subsidies."

Paul agreed that he wants to end the practice of subsidizing farmers with federal tax money, but he took issue with Conway's other characterization of his plans.

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For all the GOP chest puffing about reversing the new health care law, a full repeal, to put it generously, is a long-term project. Even if they retake the House in November, they almost certainly won't retake the Senate. Even if they retake both the House and the Senate, they'd still have to contend with the filibuster. And even if the filibuster weren't an issue, they'd still have to contend with a Presidential veto. All of that adds up to long odds, and they know it.

But if they do retake the House, even by a slim margin, they could still make a great deal of mischief, effectively sentencing Obama's history-making accomplishment to death by 1000 cuts.

"If Republicans are rewarded with control of the House of Representatives, we will use every means at our disposal to take that case to the American people, and repeal Obamacare lock stock and barrel," said House GOP Conference Chair Mike Pence. "We'll also use whatever means are available to delay implementation of Obamacare."

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The new Rasmussen poll of the West Virginia special Senate election shows Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin starting out with a sizable lead against Republican businessman John Raese, in the race for the seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd.

The numbers: Manchin 51%, Raese 35%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. There is no prior poll of this matchup for direct comparison. Raese first ran for the Senate way back in 1984, losing by a narrow 52%-48% against Democrat Jay Rockefeller in an open-seat race. He ran again in 2006 as Byrd's Republican opponent, losing by a much wider 64%-36% against the long-entrenched incumbent despite his own personal spending on the race.

From the pollster's analysis: "While Manchin earns support from 78% of Democrats, Raese attracts only 56% of Republicans. But the Republican holds a twelve-point advantage among voters not affiliated with either major political party. If Raese is to make the race competitive, he will have to start by finding a way to win over the 29% of Republicans who currently support Manchin."

The Democrats' top point man on Wall Street reform is pressing President Obama -- hard -- to appoint Elizabeth Warren to head the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In an appearance on MSNBC, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank threw his full support to Warren and warned Obama that, unlike other disappointments, he'd be held directly accountable if the nomination goes to somebody else.

"It is essential to the bill and very, very important that Elizabeth Warren be appointed [to head the consumer financial protection bureau]," Frank said.

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has admitted that work remains to be done on Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle's campaign against Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"We continue to work with them, but it's a work in progress," Cornyn told the Hotline on Thursday.

"We've been working with her campaign," Cornyn said. "We're still working it ....While running for election is not rocket science, it does require knowledgeable people. It does require some discipline and that's always a struggle for any first time candidate. While she's not a first time candidate, I think when you're running against the incumbent Majority Leader, this is the, it's the Super Bowl and they're gonna come at you with everything they've got and it would be a challenge for anybody to withstand the negative attacks."

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Reid an edge of 44.0%-43.1%, thanks in large part to recent Angle missteps.

An internal survey of the North Carolina Senate race released by Democrat Elaine Marshall's campaign shows state Secretary of State Marshall narrowly ahead of her opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr. The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners (D), has Marshall at 37%, Burr at 35%, and Libertarian candidate Mike Beitler at 5%.

Burr "is the most vulnerable incumbent Republican Senator in the country," write pollsters Celinda Jake and Joshua Ulibarri. "Elaine Marshall is in a strong position to defeat Burr if she has the funds to competitively communicate her message."

The internal poll is at odds with the most recent public polling of the race, which has shown Marshall trailing Burr by ten or more points points. A SurveyUSA poll from July 11 found Burr polling at 46% to Marshall's 36%, and a Rasmussen poll from July 6 found Burr leading Marshall 52%-37%.

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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the GOP's nominee for the Illinois Senate seat formerly held by President Obama, has now stated his support for the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, and that he would vote to confirm her if he were in the Senate right now. The move is seemingly a part of Kirk's effort to appeal to voters in the center, having worked hard to present himself as a moderate and independent-minded Republican.

"With regard to Solicitor General Kagan, I would support her nomination. Ms. Kagan appears to be modest and thoughtful not because she expected this nomination but because she is modest and thoughtful," Kirk said in a statement. "Under the Constitution, only the President can make this nomination and Solicitor General Kagan is one of the more careful nominees he could have picked."

The TPM Poll Average gives Kirk a narrow lead of 41.3%-38.9% over Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Both candidates have suffered from bad publicity. In Giannoulias's case, it's the failure of his family's bank, and for Kirk it's his history of having made false statements about his military service.

Alvin Greene is getting a little professional help.

Corey Hutchins reports in the South Carolina alt-weekly Free Times that the state's surprise Democratic Senate nominee has hired a Los Angeles consulting firm founded by a former Congressional candidate to help run his campaign.

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Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) has a new TV ad in his challenge against Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary, reminding voters of McCain's past work on immigration reform alongside the late liberal icon Ted Kennedy -- and also tying McCain to President Obama.

The ad plays old video of McCain: "I helped author with Senator Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform and fought for it twice." The ad then also shows old video of Obama: "I stood with Ted Kennedy and John McCain and took on this tough issue."

McCain has tacked noticeably right on immigration, supporting Arizona's new law cracking down on illegal immigration and running an ad in which he casts his fight on the issue as "a President versus a Senator.". But Hayworth certainly isn't leaving McCain's previous push on this issue alone.

The TPM Poll Average gives McCain a lead of 52.3%-30.6%. The Republican primary will be held on August 24.

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