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Senate Democrats on Thursday killed the House GOP’s resolution of disapproval for President Obama’s debt ceiling hike, the latest of a three-stage increase in last summer’s law.

The motion to proceed was blocked 44-52 on a mostly party line vote — Republicans needed 51 to advance it.

The vote clears the path for the U.S. to continue borrowing to meet its obligations, although it wasn’t likely to stop that either way — even if the GOP resolution had passed, Obama could have vetoed it.

Antonio Martinez the 22-year-old Baltimore resident arrested in December 2010 after he was caught in an FBI sting trying to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside an armed forces recruiting station, pleaded guilty on Thursday.

Martinez will be sentenced to 25 years in prison if the court accepts the plea deal. Sentencing is scheduled for April 6.

As TPM detailed at the time, Martinez was worried that he was being trapped in an FBI sting.

I’m not falling for no B.S.,” he allegedly said.

Another poll out Thursday shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney retaking the lead in Florida — a Monmouth University poll of the Sunshine State shows Romney with 39 percent of the vote and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 32. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum gets 11 percent and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) sees eight.

Gingrich remains the leader among the right wing of the party in the numbers, but Romney is leading all other groups in the Monmouth poll. “Gingrich (40%) does well among those who call themselves very conservative, leading both Romney (34%) and Santorum (15%) among a voting bloc that comprises nearly 4-in-10 likely voters,” the University’s pollsters wrote in their analysis. “But Romney does better among the bulk of voters who see themselves as either somewhat conservative (44% to 34% for Gingrich) or moderate to liberal (44% to just 19% for Gingrich).”

The current TPM Poll Average reflects the results almost exactly, showing a 7.7 percent lead for Romney.



The CIA is pulling its operative out of the NYPD, with the one-year assignment cut short, the Associated Press' Matt Apuzzo reports. The NYPD in August confirmed that a CIA officer worked at the NYPD. The AP broke the news of the NYPD spying on Muslims in an investigative series.

The Romney campaign has a new attack ad out, reminding voters about Newt Gingrich’s ethics violation hearings in the 1990s. This is old news to most voters, but the point of the ad is not just that Gingrich “resigned in disgrace,” but that there is more information from those hearings that has yet to be revealed. The ad plays up an idea the campaign has been using as a talking point all week: That Nancy Pelosi, who was on the ethics committee, has never-before revealed information about Newt Gingrich that she will give to Obama. Basically, that Newt’s past makes him too risky as a candidate.

Watch:



Tonight is the GOP's 19th debate, at 8 p.m ET on CNN. Tune in to TPM for live coverage. Here are ten things you need to know.

  • Gingrich a weak match-up against Obama: A new Suffolk University poll shows that Newt Gingrich would not fare well against President Obama in Florida. Mitt Romney leads Obama 47% to 42% in the state, but Obama beats Gingrich by 9 points, 49%-40%. Obama also kills Gingrich among independents 56% to 29%.
  • Marist goes into the Florida field: The college's pollsters started conducting a Florida poll on Wednesday. Their last numbers during the first Gingrich surge in December showed him with a huge lead in the state, but the latest numbers from other pollers this week show Romney on the rebound. The TPM Poll Average currently shows a 8.2 percent lead for Romney.
  • Read More →

North Korean state television released what it called a “historical movie” showing the country’s new Leader Kim Jong Un, son of Kim Jong Il, visiting a school in Pyongyang on the lunar New Year. Watch below, courtesy of the AP:



The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:



Two staffers who worked directly for Gov. Scott Walker while he was county executive were charged Thursday with illegally doing extensive political work while being paid by taxpayers to do county jobs.

Kelly Rindfleisch, deputy chief of staff to Walker in 2010, faces four felony counts of misconduct in office for working for then-Rep. Brett Davis' 2010 campaign for lieutenant governor while on the county clock. Davis, who lost in the Republican primary, is now Walker's state Medicaid director.

...

Also facing two misdemeanor counts is Darlene Wink, Walker's one-time constituent services coordinator, who is accused of using county resources to raise money for Walker's 2010 gubernatorial bid. Wink, a former vice chair of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, resigned in May 2010 after admitting to the Journal Sentinel that she was spending part of her work day doing campaign work.

A pair of polls out of Florida lend credence to the position many have maintained throughout the campaign: Mitt Romney is the most formidable general election challenger to President Barack Obama.

Surveys of registered voters in Florida by Quinnipiac and Suffolk show the former Massachusetts governor running even with or topping the president in the crucial battleground state.

In the Quinnipiac poll, Romney and Obama both claim the support of 45 percent of respondents. But Romney bests Obama 47 percent to 42 percent in the Suffolk survey. Conversely, Obama outpolls every other GOP presidential hopeful in both surveys.

The results of the Quinnipiac and Suffolk surveys agree with the TPM Poll Average, which shows Romney edging Obama by a narrow margin in Florida.



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