TPM News

The moment is finally here: the anti-Romney documentary produced by a pro-Gingrich Super PAC has been released.

It comes as the pro-Gingrich group, Winning Our Future, unleashes a tsunami of ads based on the documentary against Mitt Romney in South Carolina, following a $5 million donation by the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

In recent days, many Republicans have started leaning on Newt to tone down the tenor of his attacks on Romney's work in private equity, fearing it will play into the Democrats' hands in the general election. And on the force of this documentary, their fears would seem to be justified.

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It has been a few months since billionaire Warren Buffett called on President Obama to "stop coddling the super-rich" and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

His "Buffett Rule" sparked some backlash, especially from Republicans, who suggested that Buffett should cut the U.S. government a check if he's so eager to pay his fair share of the nation's debts. Well, Buffett tells TIME magazine that he's willing to do just that. He's willing to match one-for-one any donation by a Republican member of Congress -- except for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he gets three for one.

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The confetti is still settling in New Hampshire, but the attention of the news media has already switched to South Carolina.

Chatter went in to overdrive today as people speculated whether Mitt Romney can sustain his position as number one, or whether the new line of attack from Rick Perry will blight him in the public eye as a "vulture capitalist"...

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CNN now says that Rick Perry is being invited to their debate in South Carolina on January 19, two days before the big primary in which he hopes to make his last stand. This despite the fact that he has not met any of the requirements for participation that CNN made public last week.

"Yes, Gov. Perry will be invited to next week's CNN debate," said Edie Emery, director of public relations for Turner Broadcasting Systems, in an e-mail to TPM. "He has met the criteria."

A follow-up e-mail to Emery, asking which criteria Perry has met, was not immediately returned.

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Update, Jan. 11, 5:00PM: Mark Zuckerman, a federal prosecutor in the New Hampshire U.S. Attorney's Office, told TPM he recently became aware of the Project Veritas video and was reviewing it but hadn't formed any opinion on whether it presented an issue.

It was one of the few -- if not the only -- coordinated efforts to attempt in-person voter fraud, and it was pulled off by affiliates of conservative activist James O'Keefe at polling places in New Hampshire Tuesday night. All of it part of an attempt to prove the need for voter ID laws that voting rights experts say have a unfair impact on minority voters.

Now election law experts tell TPM that O'Keefe's allies could face criminal charges on both the federal and state level for procuring ballots under false names, and that his undercover sting doesn't demonstrate a need for voter ID laws at all.

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Judging from their rhetoric, both Democrats and Team Romney already think the GOP nomination fight is sealed up, and they're turning their focus on the general election.

Consequently, even though it's early in the year, we already know what one of the defining themes is going to be. There are a lot of phrases you could use for it. Dems might be minded to use "fairness" or "inequality." Republicans might be quicker to call it "class warfare." Now we know, however, how Romney himself is going to frame it: "the politics of envy."

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The money is flooding into the Massachusetts Senate race. Former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren, who is challenging Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, has raised $5.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

From the Warren campaign's press release:

"From all across our commonwealth, people are supporting our campaign and the fight to level the playing field for middle class families," said consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren. "With Wall Street lining up against this campaign, already contributing millions and willing to pay any price to try to stop our work, it's going to take a strong, grassroots effort like this to win."

The Elizabeth for Massachusetts campaign currently has more than $6 million cash on hand, compared to Senator Scott Brown's $12.8 million war chest. The momentum of Elizabeth's grassroots support over the fourth quarter enabled the campaign to purchase $1.6 million in television advertisements in December.

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Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), accused of "unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments, and unwelcome touching" by a woman who worked at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, blasted the Office of Congressional Ethics for conducting a "shoddy investigation" using "poor investigative techniques" when they recommended a House Ethics Committee probe of the matter.

The House Ethics Committee announced on Wednesday that it was declining to pursue a full investigation into the matter. An Oct. 13, 2011 OCE report released on Wednesday along with the committee's announcement reveals that OCE was unable to "fully assess" the allegations because key witnesses refused to cooperate, but had recommended a full investigation by the Ethics Committee because there was "probable cause" that Hastings had broken ethics rules.

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An aide to Sen. Jon Hoeven (R-ND) has told Reuters that Congressional Republicans will attempt to eschew approval from President Barack Obama for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

Cross-border pipelines have historically required presidential approval, but Ryan Bernstein, an energy advisor to Hoeven, says that Republicans will draft a bill to approve the pipeline that invokes Congressional authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations.

The U.S. Marine Corps is promising to investigate a shocking video that shows Marines allegedly urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Marine officials said in a statement:

“While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps. This matter will be fully investigated.”

Via Air Force Times.