TPM News

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary next week, is quick to embrace the nomination of Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court -- and to use it against the ex-Republican Specter, who voted against Kagan last year when she was nomination for solicitor general and he was still in the GOP.

"My opponent, Senator Specter, has already made his views about the President's nominee clear by voting against her confirmation to be Solicitor General, even as seven of his fellow Republicans approved her nomination," Sestak said in a statement. "I expect Senator Specter may backtrack from his earlier vote on Ms. Kagan this week in order to help himself in the upcoming primary election, but the people of Pennsylvania have no way of knowing where he will stand after May 18."

The TPM Poll Average gives Specter a lead of 45.0%-39.1%, with Sestak gaining fast in the last several weeks. The most recent polls have shown Sestak taking the lead.

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RNC Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement today on President Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, in which he claimed that Kagan supported statements suggesting the Constitution "as originally drafted and conceived" was "defective."

Here's the full text:

Over the past year, the American people have been witness to President Obama's massive expansion of the federal government into our daily lives. To assure the American people, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, will need to demonstrate that she is committed to upholding the vision of our Founding Fathers, who wrote a Constitution meant to limit the power of government, not expand it.

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Following President Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court this morning, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) issued a statement encouraging the Senate to "thoroughly and fairly" evaluate her qualifications. Here's the full text:

"Now that the President has nominated Elena Kagan to replace Justice Stevens, the Senate must thoroughly and fairly evaluate her qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice. Judicial qualifications go beyond legal experience; any Supreme Court nominee should have an impressive resume. The more important qualification is judicial philosophy and a nominee's understanding of the power and proper role of a Justice in our system of government.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell released the following statement today in response to President Obama's selection of solicitor general Elena Kagan as his SCOTUS nominee:

I congratulate Elena Kagan on her nomination. As we did with Justice Sotomayor last year, Senate Republicans will treat Ms. Kagan fairly. She has been nominated for a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court, and we will carefully review her brief litigation experience, as well as her judgment and her career in academia, both as a professor and as an administrator. Fulfilling our duty to advise and consent on a nomination to this office requires a thorough process, not a rush to judgment.

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A hard-hitting TV ad that has been widely denounced as offensive could have an impact in next week's hard-fought Democratic primary election in Arkansas. The group behind the ad is run by an up-and-coming GOP operative, but won't say who's funding it.

The GOP-tied conservative advocacy group Americans for Job Security has said it's spending $900,000 -- a hefty sum in the state's relatively inexpensive media market -- to run a TV ad that accuses Lt. Gov. Bill Halter of shipping jobs to India when he helped run a tech company. On top of stereotypical "Indian" images and music, actors playing Indians thank Halter. The candidate has called the ads "despicable," and even his opponent, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, has labeled them "offensive."

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It's official.

President Obama officially announced this morning that he's nominating Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court created by Justice John Paul Stevens' retirement.

Introducing her as "our solicitor general and my friend, Elena Kagan," Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and Kagan, said that "Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation's foremost legal minds."

Kagan, 50, is the country's first female solicitor general and was also the first female dean of Harvard Law School.

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While Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) are caught in a fierce Democratic Senate primary battle (new polls now show Sestak leading), former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) has released his first television ad of the campaign.

The ad touts Toomey as a "taxpayer hero" who's against "trillion dollar bailouts and deficits, government-run health care, record unemployment."

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is facing a heated challenge in the Republican primary from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, has a TV ad taking a hard line -- and a folksy line, as well -- on border security, essentially countering Hayworth's attacks against Mccain's past support for comprehensive immigration reform.

The ad shows McCain walking along the Mexican border with a county sheriff, who for his part endorses McCain's proposal to bring the National Guard to the border. McCain adds: "And complete the danged fence."

The TPM Poll Average currently gives McCain a lead of 49.2%-38.2%.

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Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wants to hear from Solicitor General Elena Kagan on health care.

One issue in Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Barrasso said on Fox News this morning, "is this whole health care bill that has just come out. There's a mandate that everybody in the country has to buy a product. That's a 10th Amendment issue. Twenty states right now are suing the federal government."

She is going to have to make a decision, if she is on the court, about how that goes forward with these 20 states suing.

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Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that an FBI surveillance team watching Faisal Shahzad last week lost contact with the Times Square bomb suspect for "about an hour.

"We lost contact with him for just a bit of time," Holder said, adding that, "we had a layered approach so at the end of the day, I think, we were always confident that he would be picked up. And the question was only where would he be picked up and when would he be picked up."

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