TPM News

Petraeus Leaves Room For Changes In Afghan Pullout During his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. David Petraeus left open the possibility that he could recommend President Obama delay his plans for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan next summer. "There will be an assessment at the end of this year after which undoubtedly we'll make certain tweaks, refinements, perhaps some significant changes," said Petraeus.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and meet with senior advisers at 10 a.m. ET. He will depart the White House at 11 a.m. ET, and depart form Andrews Air Force Base at 11:15 a.m. ET, arriving at 1 p.m. ET in Racine, Wisconsin. He will hold a town hall meeting on the economy at 2:15 p.m. ET. He will depart from Racine at 4:15 p.m. ET, arriving at Andrews Air Force Base at 5:55 p.m. ET, and back at the White House at 6:10 p.m. ET.

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As President Obama mounts a new effort to simultaneously push two major domestic policy initiatives -- immigration reform and energy legislation -- that seem politically impossible before the fall elections, one Republican has a bit of advice: Go small.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Tuesday that Obama should do a "smaller version" of the energy measure that he worked on with Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Kerry (D-MA) and return to the issue next year. (Graham bailed on that working group in April.) As for immigration, Graham thinks securing the border first is the only option for beginning a productive debate, and suggested that a post-election measure doing that will set up Congress to consider a comprehensive bill with a pathway to citizenship next year.

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Nevada Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle just sat down for an interview with Jon Ralston, one of the top political reporters in the state, on the NBC station in Reno. And a big question that Ralston had for her was just what she meant by people having "Second Amendment remedies."

Ralston played back the audio, with accompanying on-screen text, from an interview that Angle gave with a conservative talk radio host back in January. "You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said, it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years," Angle said. "I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you, the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out."

"A lot of people think that's pretty outrageous rhetoric," Ralston said, referring to the language about "take Harry Reid out," and asked Angle whether she thought President Obama was a tyrant comparable to King George III.

"Well, I was speaking broadly, as you saw, about the Constitution, and that was the context of that rhetoric," Angle responded. "I admit that was a little strong to say 'take him out,' but you know what I meant. I meant take him out of office, and taking him out of office is a little different. I changed my rhetoric, to 'defeat Harry Reid.'"

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who has hit the road to speak to all sorts of conservative audiences, will put in an appearance before a very illustrious crowd this fall: A conference organized by the Birther website World Net Daily.

WND's "Taking America Back" conference will be held in Miami on September 16-18, and will feature such avowed Birther activists as WND head Joseph Farah, perennial candidate Alan Keyes, and author Jerome Corsi. Also on the list are Bachmann, Ann Coulter and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO).

Bachmann campaign manager Gina Countryman told the Star Tribune that the event is not a Birther conference, and that Bachmann "has absolutely no reason to question the president's citizenship, as much as her detractors wish was the case." Countryman explained: "She's attending so she can share her passion for our nation's founding and belief in fiscally responsible, limited government with those in attendance."

Late update: Financial reform negotiators agreed tonight on a party line vote to make fixes sought by Sens. Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe, changing the way the legislation will be paid for. Speaking to reporters after the impromptu conference committee session, House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank implied strongly that he'd received assurances that the Senate now has 60 votes to pass Wall Street reform. The House will likely take the bill up tomorrow, while the Senate may have to wait until after the July 4 recess to hold its final vote.

Here's how Democrats propose to placate moderate Republicans, who've been threatening to renege on their previous support for Wall Street reform. Instead of paying for the $19 billion cost of financial regulation bill by taxing big banks, the legislation will now raise money in two ways: Ending TARP, and raising the minimum target for FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund.

Democrats took the extraordinary step this evening of reconvening the financial reform conference committee and making the switch in order to secure 60 votes for the legislation in the Senate. Brown said he'd bolt from the bill without a new pay-for, and Maine Republicans Collins and Snowe made similar threats, leaving Democrats likely vulnerable to a Republican financial reform filibuster.

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Today's Senate does not suck as much as the Senate of old. That's something on which Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan can apparently agree.

In one of the many lighter moments in today's confirmation hearings, Graham asked Kagan what she thought of the hearings so far, making reference to her widely-cited 1995 book review calling the modern confirmation process "a vapid and hollow charade."

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Usually, in a confirmation hearing for a Supreme Court nominee, the discussion of the Second Amendment comes down to a debate over whether the amendment guarantees an individual or collective the right to bear arms. One might think the matter was settled in Congress since Supreme Court rulings in Heller and McDonald leave the individual right to bear arms, as Elena Kagan said earlier today, "settled law." However, having a settled constitutional question left Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) with an opening to question whether the right to bear arms come from more than just the constitution. He wanted to know, in fact, whether it came straight from God.

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The new survey of the Ohio gubernatorial race by Public Policy Polling (D) shows Republican former Rep. John Kasich edging Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. Other polling shows Strickland ahead, though -- and in either case, this race is definitely one of the big toss-ups of the year.

The numbers: Kasich 43%, Strickland 41%. The survey of registered voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. The previous PPP numbers from March showed Kasich ahead by 42%-37%.

Interestingly, this Dem firm's poll showing the Republican ahead is being released on the same day as a non-partisan Quinnipiac poll, which showed Strickland ahead by by 43%-38%. That said, these results aren't all that far apart in statistical terms, so these divergent results in a way just further show the closeness of the race. The TPM Poll Average has Strickland ahead by 44.3%-41.8%.

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