TPM News

The New Hampshire Republican Senate primary is still too close to call -- but might not be for long, the Union Leader reports, with a result possibly coming soon. As of right now, establishment-backed Kelly Ayotte has a very narrow lead over Tea Party-backed candidate Ovide Lamontagne.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan told the paper that his office is getting close to a final result. "There are some numbers we want to double-check," said Scanlon.

With 90% of precincts reporting, Ayotte has a slim edge of 38%-37%, with a raw vote lead of just 1,120 votes.

Democrats will not rule out compromising with Republicans on the Bush tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest Americans, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

At his weekly press availability this morning, Hoyer declined to draw a bright line on the issue of tax cuts for the rich, adding to the uncertainty over whether Democrats will force Republicans to choose between tax cuts for the middle class, or no tax cuts at all.

"I'm always, as you know, prepared to discuss alternatives so that we can move forward," Hoyer told reporters.

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Conference Chairman Mike Pence says Republicans are "united" opposing "any tax increases." Minority Whip Eric Cantor thinks the midterm elections will be about "not allowing tax hikes to occur." Rep. Jeb Hensarling says the party is "united" they want "no tax increases on nobody."

Get the picture? They are all on the same page.

Three days after House Minority Leader John Boehner distinctly told CBS that he would vote for an extension of just the middle class tax cuts were that his "only option," the Republicans have a message to convey: Total unity.

TPM tried to press Boehner (R-OH) on his remarks, since we know Republicans attempted to do damage control after Sunday's interview.

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Last night, Stephen Colbert said he didn't think much of Pastor Terry Jones' threats to burn copies of the Koran on September 11: "He just threatened to burn the Koran. And threatening to burn stuff, that's just negotiating. That's how I got such a good deal on my Audi."

But Colbert did agree with Jones' logic that burning Korans was a push to stop construction on the Park51 Islamic center. "Exactly," he said. "Destroying a religious symbol and building a religious center are really the same thing if you don't think about."

"I'll tell you who really has thought about it," Colbert added. "Sarah Palin's Facebook page."

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Last night, Jon Stewart found it disheartening that John Boehner and Robert Gibbs were trading barbs over the Bush tax cuts on Twitter: "Once again, our national discourse over one of the most complicated issues devolves into twitter snaps."

As Stewart recounted the back-and-forth:

Gibbs: @JohnBoehner You are so orange you fart Cheetoh dust.

Boehner: @PressSec The E-Trade Baby called -- he wants his head back.

Gibbs: @JohnBoehner's so orange his d*ck looks like a circus peanut.

Boehner: @PressSec I get it. I'm orange.

But then Gibbs really got mean: "@MitchMcConnell look so much like a turtle if you draw him you get into art school."

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Remember all that talk last night about how the National Republican Senatorial Committee was cutting bait in the Delaware Senate race, and wouldn't waste its resources backing nominee (and conservative activist) Christine O'Donnell? Well now the NRSC has taken quite a contrary action -- with chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) announcing that the committee is sending her $42,000.

"Let there be no mistake: The National Republican Senatorial Committee - and I personally as the committee's chairman - strongly stand by all of our Republican nominees, including Christine O'Donnell in Delaware," Cornyn said in a statement released just now.

"I reached out to Christine this morning, and as I have conveyed to all of our nominees, I offered her my personal congratulations and let her know that she has our support. This support includes a check for $42,000 - the maximum allowable donation that we have provided to all of our nominees - which the NRSC will send to her campaign today."

A GOP source had previously told us that O'Donnell would have to prove that she is a viable candidate -- and her Tea Party backers would have to fund her -- before the NRSC got involved. This of course immediately sparked a backlash from those same Tea Party activists. But now the NRSC is getting on board with O'Donnell, despite the clearly long odds.

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Long before Tea Party backed candidate Christine O'Donnell won the Republican primary in Delaware and became the GOP Senate nominee, the conservative firebrand was arguing that the government was spending too much money fighting AIDS and said condoms wouldn't stop the disease from spreading.

You already know about O'Donnell's extreme views on sex and porn, and you've seen the video of her campaign against masturbation.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Christine O'Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee.]

Now TPM has unearthed a 1997 C-SPAN video that shows O'Donnell voicing concerns that a drag queen ball "celebrates the type of lifestyle which leads to the disease," objecting to terming those with AIDS "victims" and calling AIDS a consequence of a certain "lifestyle which brings about this disease."

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Newly-released poll numbers from Public Policy Polling (D), conducted over the weekend before yesterday's Delaware primary, provides yet further evidence that Christine O'Donnell's nomination for Senate has probably blown the opportunity for Republicans to pick up this seat.

The poll shows the Democratic nominee, New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, leading O'Donnell by a whopping 50%-34%. Had the GOP nomination gone to the establishment favorite, Congressman Mike Castle, he would have led Coons by 45%-35%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3.2% margin of error. In the previous PPP survey from a month ago, Coons led O'Donnell by 44%-37%, and Castle led Coons by 48%-35%.

"A small group of Delaware Republicans most likely cost their party this seat and any chance at gaining control of the Senate last night," writes PPP president Dean Debnam. "What has looked like an easy Republican win the entire cycle now looks like an easy one for the Democrats."

About 60 people gathered at the National Press Club Tuesday afternoon for a panel on the future of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as part of the agency's annual conference.

The question over whether the commission should continue to exist was brought up for discussion by the conservative members of the agency who planned the conference.

But two conservatives commissioners -- one who moderated the panel and another who serves as chair of the commission -- indicated they believe the agency still serves an important purpose. Commissioner Gail Heriot, an independent who has served as a GOP delegate, moderated the panel and sung the praises of the agency.

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