TPM News

Senate hopeful Joe Sestak joined Senate Democrats at their weekly caucus lunch today, where he was grilled by CNN producer Ted Barrett about his claim that the White House once offered him a job to get him out of the Pennsylvania primary. Sestak bobbed and weaved, and ultimately got away without answering, but if there's any indication that the story isn't going away--or that the dam is about to break--this was it.

"The question is what job was offered to you and by whom? Because David Axelrod said last night that it would be illegal if you were offered a job. So who offered you the job?" asked Barrett, who towers over Sestak by a foot or more.

"I have nothing to say on the matter. I've answered," Sestak offered.

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Another new survey of California, this time from Public Policy Polling (D), shows former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina suddenly shooting to the top of the Republican primary for Senate.

The numbers: Fiorina 41%, former Rep. Tom Campbell 21%, and state Rep. Chuck DeVore 16%. The survey of likely GOP primary voters has a ±4.8% margin of error. The TPM Poll Average gives Fiorina a sudden lead with 29.1%, Campbell 27.0%, and DeVore 15.9%, after Campbell had led in polling for this primary all year.

PPP also has former eBay CEO Meg Whitman posting a very strong lead in the GOP gubernatorial primary over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner: Whitman 51%, Poizner 26%. The TPM Poll Average gives Whitman a lead of 42.8%-31.0%.

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Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) gave us a hint earlier today on why the Democrats are trying to move quickly to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.

The Senator said that it would be "a lot harder" to repeal the Clinton-era law down the line if Democrats suffer losses during the election. Republicans have already begun lining up to stop the repeal, and the math for passing the measure gets more tricky with each Senate Democrat that is unseated in November.

Reporting by Brian Beutler

An inspector general report on the Lake Charles, LA, office of the Minerals Management Service found that inspectors accepted a free trip to the 2005 Peach Bowl paid for by an oil company.

The report (.pdf), released today in response to the Gulf Coast oil spill but not directly connected to it, also found "numerous instances of pornography and other inappropriate material on the e-mail accounts of 13 employees, six of whom have resigned. We specifically discovered 314 instances where the seven remaining employees received or forwarded pornographic images and links to Internet websites containing pornographic videos to other federal employees and individuals outside of the office using their government e-mail accounts."

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The campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has a new Web video making fun of former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), who is challenging McCain in the Republican primary, over Hayworth's mistaken insistence last week that the United States never formally declared war on Nazi Germany during World War II.

The YouTube video is fashioned in the style of a stereotypical 1940s newsreel, with a melodramatic announcer and archived news footage and audio from the process of that very declaration of war with Germany. The footage is cut in with Hayworth's statement that the war was not declared.

"J.D. Hayworth," the announcer says. "Is it any wonder he was voted among the dumbest members of Congress?"

The TPM Poll Average gives McCain a lead in this primary of 51.2%-37.1%.

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Meg Whitman's campaign team is sounding confident thanks to several polls showing that the eBay founder is leading her Republican rival, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, in the party's June 8 primary to pick a nominee for governor in California.

Team Whitman's senior strategist Mike Murphy and senior adviser Jeff Randle told reporters today that a new internal poll of 600 primary voters done by campaign pollster John McLaughlin has Whitman leading Poizner 53-27. Read the campaign's memo about the poll here. The campaign saw a tightening when Poizner went after Whitman with a negative ad campaign, with one SurveyUSA poll even putting the Republicans within two points of one another. Murphy said their internals were never that close. But now several polls have her holding a more than 20-point lead. It's "quite a comeback," Murphy told reporters on a conference call. He said they take nothing for granted but already are looking to the general election versus all-but-certain Democratic nominee Attorney General Jerry Brown.

The TPM Poll Average of this race has Whitman leading Poizner 45.0 to 35.3 percent. There also is a competitive Republican primary for the Senate nomination to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), so turnout is likely to be higher on the GOP side than it has been in recent years.

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House Republicans are looking for a few good ideas from Americans -- as long as they're Republican ideas. At a flashy media event at the Newseum this morning, House GOP leadership formally introduced AmericaSpeakingOut.com, a new campaign that the leaders said will invite average Americans to submit their ideas for legislation, and that the leaders said they'll bring to the floor as soon as next month.

The project is funded by taxpayer dollars and run by the House GOP. That has raised criticism from Democratic circles, who claim the program amounts to campaigning on the public dime. House Republicans pushed back at the event today, saying the program was designed to create legislation for this Congress, and that campaign-focused policy initiatives will come later.

"We are looking for ideas today to face the challenges of today," Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) told reporters.

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The new CNN poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly support allowing gays to openly serve in the military. Furthermore, this is not some new, suddenly progressive development -- it's been the status quo for quite a while.

The poll asked: "Do you think people who are openly gay or homosexual should or should not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military?" The result was 78% in favor to only 20% opposed. The poll of adult Americans has a ±3% margin of error. This is roughly unchanged from an 81%-17% margin in December 2008, and 79%-18% in May 2007.

"Support is widespread, even among Republicans. Nearly six in ten Republicans favor allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military," writes CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is a gender gap, with 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men favoring the change, but support remains high among both groups."

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