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State legislators aren't able to vote either way on the Medicare-ending House Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Nevertheless, Democrats, labor leaders and progressives trying to recall GOP state Senators in Wisconsin are eager to tie them to Ryan's budget which, in one prominent case at least, has proven to be political kryptonite for supposedly safe Republicans.

In the case of state Sen. Alberta Darling (R), Democrats may have just found the connection they needed.

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After initial reports that Gov. Terry Branstad had signed on to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's call for a national day of fasting and prayer on August 6, Branstad's spokesman has now told the Des Moines Register that he was mistaken, saying Branstad has not yet taken action on the request.

As the Des Moines Register reports, Perry has asked Branstad to urge Iowans to fast and pray on August 6, as part of an event organized by Perry and the American Family Association, called "The Response."

From the Response's web site:

As a nation, we must come together, call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy according to His grace, mercy, and kindness towards us. A historic crisis facing our nation and threatening our future demands a historic response from the church. We must, as a people, return to the faith and hope of our fathers. The ancient paths of great men were blazed in prayer - the humility of the truly great men of history was revealed in their recognition of the power and might of Jesus to save all who call on His great name.


Perry has invited the 49 other governors in the country to join the Response's big event on August 6 at the Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Branstad's spokesman earlier on Thursday told the Register: "We have not scheduled that far out at this time."

The Federal Election Commission's staff has recommended that the agency reject a request by Facebook to make ads on the social networking website exempt from campaign finance disclosure requirements.

But the FEC staff recommends that the agency find that candidate ads on Facebook wouldn't have to disclose who paid for them as long as the website that the advertisements linked to disclosed that information.

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Newt Gingrich's struggling presidential campaign may be entering a meltdown as an AP report claims a large group of senior aides are resigning.

Among the departed is longtime Gingrich aide Rick Tyler, known for his florid statements defending his boss, South Carolina campaign chair Katon Dawson, and his entire paid campaign staff in Iowa. But most significant may be the loss of Rob Johnson, who is closely tied to Texas Governor Rick Perry as the campaign manager for his 2010 re-election. Perry consultant Dave Carney is also quitting after signing on to run Gingrich's efforts in New Hampshire. Perry has been publicly weighing a presidential bid despite taking himself out of the running earlier and their exit could be a sign that he is serious about entering the primaries.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet The 2012 GOPers: Ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA)]

According to Politico, the mass resignations were coordinated to demonstrate a "different vision" for the campaign. "There is a path to victory" for Gingrich, Tyler told NBC. "But there was a dispute on what that path to victory was. Tyler, who had worked with Newt for over a decade, added that he still hopes he becomes president and has "no regrets" about their time together. Newt's national campaign chair, former Governor Sonny Perdue, is reportedly joining the Pawlenty campaign.

It was unclear at the end of the day who was even left in Gingrich's camp. De facto spokesman Joe DeSantis sent a one-word reply to TPM's request for a list: "Pass."

Aides cited a number of reasons for leaving, with some indicating anonymously to the Weekly Standard that Gingrich's wife Callista was a prime factor. The two are returning from a two-week vacation in the Greek Isles that aides told the Standard was a demoralizing disappearance in the middle of a heated campaign. His campaign has also been nagged by questions over $250,000 in debt to Tiffany's that his Callista reported in a disclosure form several years ago. Gingrich began his relationship with Callista as an affair and his previous wife, Marianne, broke her silence with a scathing interview on their relationship in Esquire last year.

Craig Schoenfeld, who served as executive of director Newt's campaign in Iowa before leaving Thursday, told the Des Moines Register that Gingrich had failed to commit sufficient resources to the state.

"You have to be able to raise money to run a campaign and you have to invest time in fundraising and to campaign here in the state and I did not have the confidence that was going to be happening," he said.

In a Facebook post shortly after the news broke, Gingrich said his candidacy would soldier on.

"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring," he wrote. "The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles."

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The chair of the Federal Election Commission said Thursday that the agency could and should be doing a better job of regulating the disclosure of money into federal elections.

"From my personal perspective, I think we can be doing more on disclosure and I think we should be," FEC Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly said at an event hosted by the good government group Public Citizen. "I think the commission should consider after Citizens United whether our disclosure rules need updating."

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Herman Cain is quickly walking back his comment that were he president he would sign no bills longer than three pages, saying that his initial statement was an exaggeration.

As Think Progress originally reported -- and as TPM noted Wednesday -- Cain told a crowd at an event in Iowa that he would only sign small bills under three pages long were he president to ensure that all Americans could have a chance to read those bills. But on Wednesday, Cain clarified that stance in interviews with both Glenn Beck and CBS.

"That's an exaggeration. I was trying to drive home a point that I would only sign clean bills, bills with no earmarks, and bills that the American public can read and understand," Cain said on Beck's show.

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It's up to Congress, and not the top court in the United States, to change the legal standard when it comes to deciding when a patent is valid or not, the Supreme Court said Thursday in a landmark legal ruling that had been closely monitored by the U.S. business, technology and academic communities.

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Updated 6:45 p.m.

Republican Senate candidate Adam Hasner is attacking one of his primary opponents by linking him to a stalled cap-and-trade climate change law in Florida. That may sound like par for the course in GOP politics except for one small problem: Hasner co-sponsored that bill, and praised it publicly when it passed the state legislature.

In a press release attacking Republican candidate George Lemieux -- who already served in the Senate in an interim capacity after Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) resigned -- Hasner tied his opponent to a cap-and-trade initiative spearheaded by former Governor Charlie Crist.

Like many Republicans, though, Hasner knows a thing or two about supporting cap and trade in the pre-Obama era.

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Concerned by the recent rhetoric surrounding the debt limit debate, Fitch recently put out a memo threatening to downgrade the US government's credit rating if Congress failed to reach a deal by August. Other ratings agencies have issued similarly dire warnings, including Moody's, who said they may strip the US of its prized AAA bond rating by mid-July if the standoff hasn't been resolved.

But ratings alone are relatively abstract. The real question is exactly how bad things would get in such a scenario. Experts who talked to TPM are divided on how much damage would remain after a brief default, but many are concerned that serious long-term consequences in the bond market are possible. If investors becomes spooked, they warn, interest rates on Treasury bonds could spike, a result that would drive up the deficit even further and put pressure on an already depressed housing market.

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