TPM News

West Virginia Democratic Senate candidate Gov. Joe Manchin is quickly trying to capitalize on the news that a casting call for an ad against him sought "hickey" actors. A new ad by Manchin's campaign hammers his Republican opponent John Raese, and puts the blame for the incident on Raese's shoulders.

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski has just one way to w-i-n on Election Day - Alaska voters will need to spell her name correctly as a write-in candidate. She's up against enormous odds since the state has never elected a write-in candidate, but Murkowski has been giving spelling lessons to help boost her chances.

Murkowski, who was defeated by tea party favorite Joe Miller in a Republican primary this summer, today released a new ad starring young children in a spelling bee. A little girl (of course) spells Murkowski properly, with another contestant complaining that she always gets the "easy" words.

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That didn't take long.

We learned yesterday that the Republican running against Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) has the unique hobby of donning an SS costume to honor fallen Nazis. Until last night, the GOP included the candidate, Rich Iott, on a list of promising potential members called Contenders -- a notch below their so-called Young Guns. Now he's gone, without a trace.

You can get away with a lot in conservative politics these days, but it turns out spending your weekends dressed as a Nazi, celebrating the brave Waffen 5th SS Panzer Division is still a bridge too far.

Screengrabs of the cached version of the Young Guns site from October 3, and the site as it currently reads, appear below. Click on them to enlarge.

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The search continues for the body of Texan David Hartley, the American man who was reportedly shot while he and his wife were jet skiing on the Mexican side of a border-straddling lake. David's wife, Tiffany Hartley, has made many media appearances during the week, and has become the face of the incident. But Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez is the one who first told reporters he suspected lake "pirates" were to blame for the alleged shooting, which put the story on the national radar. And it turns out this isn't the first time Gonzalez has been in the national press talking up threats from south of the border.

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Obama: I Will not 'Shortchange Our Children's Education' In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama declared his commitment to strengthening the country's education system, and attacked Republicans for wanting to cut education spending by 20 percent.

"Now, it is true that when it comes to our budget, we have real challenges to meet. And if we're serious about getting our fiscal house in order, we'll need to make some tough choices. I'm prepared to make those choices," said Obama. "But what I'm not prepared to do is shortchange our children's education. What I'm not prepared to do is undercut their economic future, your economic future, or the economic future of the United States of America. Nothing would be more detrimental to our prospects for success than cutting back on education. It would consign America to second place in our fiercely competitive global economy. But China and India aren't playing for second. South Korea and Germany aren't playing for second. They're playing for first - and so should America."

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The Atlantic's Josh Green reports that millionaire businessman Rich Iott, the Republican nominee challenging Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in Ohio's Ninth District, has an unusual hobby: He likes to pretend he's a Nazi.

Iott, a tea party-backed candidate, spent time fighting another battle before he hit the campaign trail against Kaptur as a member of the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division, a group of Ohio World War II reenactors.

According to their website, the Wikings strive to "salute" the "idealists" from occupied northern Europe who saw the Third Reich as "the protector of personal freedom and their very way of life" and signed up to fight for the Wermacht and "gave their lives for their loved ones and a basic desire to be free."

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Conservative Republican Chuck DeVore told TPM today that he agrees with Christine O'Donnell that a week-long think tank program qualifies her for the United States Senate. He completed the Claremont Institute's competitive Lincoln Fellowship program two years after O'Donnell was a fellow, and he said in an interview its rigorous discussion of the Constitution is unrivaled in modern politics.

"It's helped me tremendously in my political life. What it gave me was the practical understanding of what makes the United States unique," DeVore, a member of the California State Assembly, told TPM.

DeVore said that being a Lincoln Fellow gave him "a deeper understanding" of whether laws he is voting for on the floor of the assembly are "really appropriate" or constitutional.

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The Wall Street Journal article suggesting a massive shakeup in the three-way Florida Senate race is looking more and more like unsubstantiated speculation. Yesterday the Journal reported that Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek might be dropping his third-place bid to endorse the second-place independent candidate Charlie Crist.

Meek's campaign told me the story was "nonsense" earlier today, and now it's Team Crist's turn to throw more cold water on the story, which if true would add some excitement -- and competitive spirit -- to a race that polls show is now officially Republican nominee Marco Rubio's to lose.

"Our campaign has had no discussions," Crist spokesperson Danny Kanner told me this afternoon. But Kanner made it pretty clear that Crist wouldn't be opposed to the idea of seeing Meek exit the race.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Connecticut Senate candidates Richard Blumenthal (D) and Linda McMahon (R), former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

• CBS, Face The Nation: White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), pollsters Celinda Lake and Whit Ayres, former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

• Fox News Sunday: Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Karl Rove, Joe Trippi.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Illinois Senate candidates Alexi Giannoulias (D) and Mark Kirk (R).