TPM News

After months of speculation, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter made it official this morning, announcing he'll challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln for the Democratic Senate nomination in Arkansas.

"Enough is enough," Halter said in a video announcing his candidacy posted this morning. "It's past time to put more Arkansas values in Washington."

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President Obama today will detail the money in his budget proposal for a national effort to turnaround the nation's worst schools and a new plan aimed at reducing the drop-out rates among high schoolers.

The plan is built upon the idea that engaging students from as early as sixth grade can make sure they stay on track, and identifying troubled teens early and devoting alternative resources to those students will help keep them there. It looks to better prepare students for both college and going directly to a career.

Obama will outline the plan at an America's Promise Alliance Education event today at the Chamber of Commerce with Colin Powell and Alma Powell. The White House said Obama will talk about the need to reform the worst schools, and in some cases shut them down or take them over.

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President Obama spoke Saturday with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake. The White House released this readout of their conversation.

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Pelosi: Health Care Can Still Be Bipartisan Without Republican Votes Appearing on State of the Union, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared that "Bipartisanship is a two-way street," and said the health care bill could still be considered bipartisan even without Republicans voting for it. "The bill can be bipartisan, even though the votes might not be bipartisan, because they [Republicans] have made their imprint on this," said Pelosi, also adding: "We went into the legislative process - hundreds of hours of hearings and bill writing and all the rest - where the Republicans made their suggestions."

McConnell: 'If The Election Were Today, We'd Have A Very Good Day' Appearing on State of the Union, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that Republicans are "optimistic" about this NOvember's elections. "I think the elections in Virginia and New Jersey and particularly Massachusetts were encouraging. But, in the meantime, we need to be doing the people's business and not trying to predict what the environment may be in November," said McConnell, also adding: "If the election were today, we'd have a very good day."

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Speaking on NBC's Meet The Press this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) repeated his claim that he -- and the entire country -- was lied to about the TARP program in 2007.

Asked about the claim by host David Gregory, McCain was adamant. "We were all misled" by Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, McCain said.

Video of the exchange, and the transcript, after the jump.

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Update: See the new running list, with both signatures and statements of support from senators.

We've been keeping track of the senators signing onto Sen. Michael Bennet's (D-CO) letter urging leadership to pass the public option via reconciliation.

Senate leaders would need 50 votes in order to pass the measure using reconciliation.

Here it is, our running list:

Total: 24

Carl Levin (MI)

Daniel Inouye (HI)

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Obama: 'We Cannot Lose The Opportunity To Meet This Challenge' In this weekend's YouTube address, President obama reviewed the discussions that occurred at the health care summit this past Thursday. Obama possibly hinted at the Democrats moving to pass the bill through budget reconciliation and a majority vote in the Senate, when he said that he hopes for members of both parties to move forward -- but that "we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge."

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Rand Paul has a new ad in the Kentucky Republican Senate primary, slamming his rival Trey Grayson for having voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, and alleging that Grayson and President Obama are "dangerous allies." Grayson's spokesman fired back, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports -- by slamming Rand Paul for supporting his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

The Paul ad blasts Grayson on national security. "He admitted to voting for draft-dodger Bill Clinton," the announcer says. "Worse, listen to what Grayson said about Barack Obama."

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The House ethics panel has now released the documents in the investigation that found Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) violated House rules by taking corporate-funded junkets to the Caribbean.

We ran down the results of the investigation here. But we need your help going through the raw materials for any good nuggets. Links after the jump.

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