TPM News

Yesterday, Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell offered an update of sorts on the progress of a long-awaited repeal of the Pentagon's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which forbids openly gay troops from serving in the military.

"I do not believe there are any plans under way in this building for some expected, but not articulated, anticipation that don't ask-don't tell will be repealed," Morrell said at a press briefing. Pentagon leaders, he said, are "aware of where the president wants to go on this issue, but I don't think that there is any sense of any immediate developments in the offing on efforts to repeal don't ask-don't tell."

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The new Quinnipiac poll of New Jersey shows Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in continued trouble for his re-election campaign this year, essentially unchanged from previous polls. Meanwhile, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the choice of the Republican establishment, is pulling away in the GOP primary for June 2.

In the general election match-ups, Christie leads Corzine by 45%-38%, the same margin as a month ago. The insurgent conservative candidate, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, edges Corzine 42%-40%, compared to a 41%-41% tie a month ago. The margin of error is ±2%.

In the Republican primary, Christie has gained a 56%-33% lead over Lonegan, compared to a 46%-37% lead a month ago.

The big question here is whether Corzine can successfully reassert a common pattern in New Jersey politics -- that many people don't like their politicians, but in the home stretch the undecided voters can quickly align for the Democrat or simply against the Republican.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chief sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, has a warning for Democratic foes of his flagship legislation: Work with me in earnest on a compromise, or I'll put the bill on the Senate floor and you can vote your conscience.

That may not sound like a grave threat, but it may well be. Two of the bills main skeptics--Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)--face re-election next year, and both, for different reasons, may ultimately need union support to prevail. Specter, who tacked to the right and came out against EFCA before becoming a Democrat, is facing pressure from the Democratic base and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) to move left or face a primary challenge.

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Rumsfeld Spokesman Denies Accusations Of Biblical Quotes In Iraq War Briefings Keith Urbahn, the spokesman for former Sec. of Defense Don Rumsfeld, is strongly denying the GQ report that Rumsfeld approved Iraq War briefings for President George W. Bush that incorporated Biblical quotes. "Rumsfeld was fully aware that words and actions could be harmful and counterproductive to the war effort. It's safe to say that some of these cover slides could be considered in that category," Urbahn said. "The suggestion that Rumsfeld would have composed of, approved of, or personally shown the slides to President Bush is flat wrong. It did not happen."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will attend the first quarterly meeting of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, at 10 a.m. ET in the Roosevelt Room, focusing at this meeting on clean energy jobs. At 3 p.m. ET, he will participate in a credentialing ceremony for foreign ambassadors in the Oval Office. He will hold a bill signing at 4:30 p.m. in the East Room, signing the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act. At 5:45 p.m. ET, he will call the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. At 7:30 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will host a bipartisan reception in the Blue Room for members of the House and their guests.

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Has Michael Steele averted the cultural and political train-wreck that would have come from the RNC's proposed "Democrat Socialist Party" resolution? That's what CNN now reports.

RNC member David Norcross of New Jersey, who had been a sponsor of the resolution, told CNN: "The language is being changed so that the proposers and chairman Steele are on the same page." Steele had opposed this thing from the start, and had sought to avoid the spectacle -- yes, Michael Steele thought this was too goofy.

Instead, Norcross said the resolution will now simply "condemn the Democrats' march to socialism" instead of renaming the Dems as the "Democrat Socialist Party." Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus, a Steele ally, predicted that such an altered version should pass easily once the final language has cleared the resolutions committee.

New York AG Andrew Cuomo sued two major debt settlement companies today for fraud and deceptive advertising practices in the first big development in an expansive probe of the debt settlement industry he announced last week. One of the companies, Credit Solutions of America of Richardson, Texas, was sued by its own state attorney general in March -- and from the numbers it sounds like a busy time for the company's lawyers. Cuomo's office said CSA, which has had more than 1,600 Beter Business Bureau complaints filed against it in the past three years, collected approximately $17 million in fees signing up 18,000 New Yorkers between 2003 and 2008 with promises of reducing their debtload by 60% -- a promise they fulfilled for an average of one percent of their customers.

Two things make that shocking statistic even more shocking. Number one, as a New York Times Magazine story published Sunday makes clear, it's hardly unusual these days for customers to receive a 60% reduction in their credit card debts simply by asking the customer service representative on the other end of the line. Number two, as some documents we received from a lawyer representing an ex-client of CSA makes clear, the company endorsed some pretty desperate measures for settling debts: yup, CSA encouraged its clients to sell their blood plasma!

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We told you earlier this afternoon about how Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who has called Nancy Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to her "outrageous," has himself initiated a probe into whether the agency misled lawmakers about a 2001 shooting incident in Peru that caused the death of an American citizen.

And it looks like Hoekstra's hypocrisy goes even further. Think Progress points out that Hoekstra last night went on Fox News, where he explained to Greta Van Susteren that it's fine to criticize the CIA's performance, but not to accuse it of lying:

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Terry McAuliffe is now the target of the attack ads in this year's Virginia gubernatorial race, as recent polling has put him ahead in the three-way Democratic primary set for June 9.

Former state Del. Brian Moran has launched this new TV ad against McAuliffe, casting McAuliffe as a greedy businessman who has gotten rich while other people got laid off:



"Barack Obama ran against exactly the kind of big-money politics that McAuliffe represents," the announcer says -- seemingly an effort to both tie Moran to the popular President Obama, and to remind voters that McAuliffe was for Hillary Clinton during the primaries.

The Republican National Committee could potentially take a very bold, politically momentous move tomorrow. I am speaking, of course, about the upcoming vote on a resolution to declare that the Democratic Party should be renamed the "Democrat Socialist Party."

The Politico reported last week that, at least as of that writing, the resolution was expected to pass. If it does pass, it will be against the wishes of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who had opposed bringing this vote up at all -- and would thus be something of a blow to his command of the party organization and its overall message against the Dems.

This morning, Steele appeared on Fox News and couldn't suppress his laughter at the idea when the subject came up.

"No (laughs), well I don't -- I don't know how that resolution is gonna turn out," Steele said. "We have members who have very strong passions about the direction the Administration is taking with our economy."

When Steve Doocy asked whether Steele is for or against the resolution, Steele made it clear. "No, I am not for that at all," said Steele. "And I've mentioned that to folks inside the party and said, you know, I think that we should be smart and strategic about that. But a lot of people have passions, and the beauty of the Republican Party is you get to express those passions in various ways."

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Florida, commissioned by the Tallahassee-based public relations first Ron Sachs Communications, confirms the general consensus that Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is the immediate favorite to win the open Senate seat of retiring GOP Sen. Mel Martinez in 2010.

In the Republican primary against his more conservative challenger, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, Crist currently enjoys a 53%-18% lead. Granted, a lot can happen between now and the primary in August 2010, but at the moment Crist is on top.

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