TPM News

As it stands now, the biggest threat to President Obama's reelection bid isn't a Republican challenger -- it's the economy, stupid.

Obama's overall approval rating -- and by extension his odds of winning reelection next year -- are inextricably tied to the health of the economy, as a number of recent polls have made very clear. While it's still a long way till election day, at the same time that economic pessimism has grown polls are showing Americans losing confidence in Obama's ability to turn things around.

The good news for Obama is that polls have not yet shown any of the Republican presidential candidates consistently topping him in hypothetical matchups, or even putting up much of a fight. So while these polls have reinforced the time-tested notion that the economy's health is crucial to a president's reelection bid, they've also illuminated how weak the current crop of Republican frontrunners are -- including presumed frontrunner Mitt Romney.

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Herman Cain was once one of TARP's strongest supporters. In fact, he still thinks the idea was a good one, in theory anyway. This puts Cain in direct opposition to the tea party followers largely responsible for his meteoric rise of late up the Republican presidential polls.

Cain acknowledges this could be an issue.

"If they want to nail me with my support for TARP -- you know what? I'm not going to be able to counter that," Cain told TPM in a wide-ranging interview last weekend. "Here's what we will do -- we will have a spot on our website that says, 'if you really want to know the truth about my position on TARP, go look at this two-minute video.' If they choose not to, I can't change that."

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The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, has now green-lit three recalls targeting Democratic state Sens. Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch -- but it was a close call, as the board grappled all through the day with a topic that isn't discussed too much in the media: Alleged election fraud that is perpetrated by Republicans.

The state Democratic Party and the three incumbents had filed extensive challenges to the petitions that were filed by the Republicans, triggering an extensive debate among the board members (retired judges who are selected through a mostly non-partisan process), the GAB staff lawyers, and Democratic and Republican Party attorneys over what the threshold was to disqualify petitions based on claims of fraud.

Adding to the political dimension the GAB had already certified six other recalls, all of them spearheaded by the Democrats to target Republicans who voted for Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union bill, but had to receive an extension of the review time from a judge for these three recalls, because the Dems had filed much more extensive challenges. As a result of the extension, these new recalls (or any necessary primaries) will take place on July 19, a week after the July 12 date for the recalls targeting GOP legislators.

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Rep. Nikki Tsongas (D-MA) called on Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to resign from Congress, joining a growing public call for Weiner to step down from his Democratic colleagues.

The AP reports Tsongas said through an aide that "it would be appropriate" for Weiner to resign following revelations that he had multiple virtual relationships with women across the country over the past three years.

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Even though Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) couldn't find it in his heart to do his full part in ponying up to help his party in elections, he managed to donate to Rep. Charlie Rangel's legal defense fund, according to a TPM search of his campaign finance records.

Weiner cut a check for $2,000 to Rangel's defense fund in January to help defray the roughly $2 million in legal fees Rangel amassed after a nearly three-year investigation into a string of financial irregularities, which resulted in a House censure last year.

But the embarrassed and embattled Weiner has yet to donate any money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee so far this cycle. The stinginess has been duly noted, party insiders say, and has contributed to his reputation as a shameless self-promoter who was only using his Congressional post as a stepping stone to the New York mayor's office.

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Mitt Romney's got enough to worry about without this: Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) is holding a rally Wednesday to accuse Romney of basically being exactly the same as Barack Obama.

Romney is in Michigan this week, stumping through his native land and raising money. Democrats are having a field day, dispatching former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) to yet again attack him over his opposition to the auto bailouts.

He's facing an even stronger attack from his fellow Republican.

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If he were president, Herman Cain wouldn't sign any bill so lengthy that an average American family couldn't digest it along with their pizza dinner.

As Think Progress first reported on Monday, Cain fired up attendees at an event in Iowa by decrying bulky bills that he said are so long that common people don't have time to read their full text. In particular, he knocked the health care overhaul, which he claimed members of the Obama administration hadn't even read.

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With President Obama's July deadline for withdrawing some troops in Afghanistan just weeks away, the future of the U.S. commitment to the nearly 10-year war has been a hot topic on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in recent weeks.

Concern over the nation's budget woes have taken center stage in Washington, and with few tangible signs of progress in Afghanistan, members of Congress are increasingly expressing deep skepticism about maintaining U.S. nation-building efforts there.

The most notable aspect of Wednesday's Senate Foreign Relations hearing on the nomination of Ryan Crocker to be ambassador to Afghanistan, was the absence of voices supporting an ongoing robust U.S. presence there.

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