TPM News

Two top Bush administration officials whose reputations for strategic acumen were badly damaged by the disasters of the Bush years may be about to market their expertise to private-sector clients.

In September, the RiceHadley Group LLC was registered as a business in California, under a San Francisco address. According to a source, the venture is to be a "strategic consulting" firm, headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and will be launched imminently.

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Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which voted way back in July to advance health care legislation to the House floor. At the time, the legislation stipulated that no federal funds authorized by the bill would be used to pay for abortions, except in cases of incest, risk to the life of the mother, and rape. And at the time, that was good enough.

But even back then, Stupak was trying to strengthen the language in the bill restricting the availability of abortion services under the House health care plan.

A day before the bill passed out of committee, Stupak co-sponsored, and voted for an amendment written by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA)--distinct from the now notorious "Stupak amendment"--that would have limited the government's ability to include abortions in benefits plans to cases of incest, life of the mother, and forcible rape.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is usually thought of as a loyal Republican in Washington -- but he has now been censured by a county Republican organization back home, for working too much with the Democrats.

The Charleston County GOP has censured Graham, citing his work with Democrats on a climate change bill as the final straw, and saying that he he has weakened the Republican brand.

County party chairwoman Lin Bennett says a similar resolution will introduced at the state GOP convention next year.

Graham need not have any immediate worries about a primary challenge. He was just re-elected last year, and won't on the ballot again until 2014.

Late Update: Greg Sargent has the full text of the censure resolution. It's fun reading, including its line about how "U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham - in the name of bipartisanship - continues to weaken the Republican brand and tarnish the ideals of freedom, rule of law, and fiscal conservatism."

The poor Washington Times. Several executives get fired, their top editor is MIA, security is beefed up, the family that owns the church that owns the paper is a mess, staffers fear for the safety of their jobs, confusion reigns and the very survival of the paper is in question.

Well, TPM has obtained a few staff e-mails sent by recently-fired publisher Tom McDevitt over the last couple years that help shed a little light on the paper's ambition -- and descent.

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Some new details on this week's turmoil at the Washington Times: A longtime staffer confirms that executive editor John Solomon is nowhere to be seen -- and that the very mention of his name brings managing editor David Jones to tears.

"No one has heard from Solomon and no one knows if he's coming back," the Times staffer tells TPM. "We ask David Jones about his status and he literally tears up."

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Republicans could still be having trouble with candidate recruitment against Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), The Hill reports -- specifically, from local Republicans who are unhappy with the current de facto frontrunner for the nomination.

Grayson, of course, is the fiery liberal best known for saying the GOP's health care plan is for sick people to "die quickly," and who also called former Vice President Dick Cheney a vampire, and referred to a female lobbyist as a "K Street whore." Although Grayson represents a swing seat, Republicans have had trouble recruiting a top-tier challenger, with many potential recruits shying away.

Into the void has stepped Armando Gutierrez, a 28-year-old real estate developer who has moved to Orlando from Miami, in order to run for the seat. "He's pissing people off a lot," said an anonymous local GOP operative. "He's very pushy and is an unknown commodity, and people are jealously guarding their prerogatives."

Gutierrez brushed off the criticism. "As long as I keep getting calls and people want to meet me in Central Florida, I'm happy," said Gutierrez. "As long as that continues to happen, the momentum and the will of the people is going our way."

The Republican primary for Senate in Ohio could be starting to heat up, with anti-establishment candidate Tom Ganley, an auto dealer, launching his new statewide ad buy to introduce himself to the voters.

The ad does not directly attack former Rep. Rob Portman, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but simply denounces "the Washington politicians." The ad focuses on Ganley's own background in business, his call for lower spending and his opposition to bailouts, and his role in an FBI investigation against organized crime in Ohio.

A Quinnipiac poll from September gave Portman a lead over Ganley -- but it was only a 27%-9% leads, with very high undecideds and both candidates largely unknown with the voters.