TPM News

Despite a slew of negative press over the past two weeks, former Rep. John Kasich (R) is building a lead on incumbent Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), according to a new poll from Rasmussen out today which shows Kasich leading Strickland 47-40.

Rasmussen surveyed 500 likely voters on June 29. The new poll has a margin of error of 4.5%. A similar poll taken by Rasmussen on June 3 showed Kasich ahead 47-42. But other recent polling of the race has shown the race to be closer than that, and some show Strickland in the lead.

The TPM Poll Average shows the race to be a dead heat (Strickland's ahead in the average by a margin of 43.3-42.9.)

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has a new TV ad against his challenger in the Republican primary, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, continuing to hammer away at Hayworth over his involvement in a 2007 infomercial promoting questionable seminars for "free money" in government grants.

The ad uses video of Hayworth's very unfortunate original reaction to the story: "One of the staples I learned growing up is caveat emptor -- buyer beware." Hayworth subsequently released a more detailed apology for the infomercial.

The announcer says: "J.D. Hayworth. Pork barrel spender. Lobbyist. Huckster. Voter beware."

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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who has come under fire for his comments late last week seemingly opposing the war in Afghanistan, is actually attracting praise from one Republican: Rep. Ron Paul, the renegade GOPer from Texas who has long opposed interventionist foreign policy.

"I would like to congratulate Michael Steele for his leadership on one of the most important issues of today. He is absolutely right: Afghanistan is now Obama's war," Paul said in a statement over the weekend. "During the 2008 campaign, Obama was out in front in insisting that more troops be sent to Afghanistan. Obama called for expanding the war even as he pretended to be a peace candidate."

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Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) called for the resignation of Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele over the weekend, in the wake of Steele's comments criticizing the Afghanistan war.

"Frankly, I find Steele's remarks totally unacceptable," said Cole, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a statement on Saturday. "He should apologize and resign. He undercut American forces fighting in the field, politicized further a war that two presidents of different parties have deemed in the national interest and embarrassed the party he purports to lead. It is time for him to go -- quickly."

This came after comments by Steele late last week, in which he said: "Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in." He quickly backed away from his denunciation of the war itself, while sticking to criticism of Obama.

Petraeus: We Must Demonstrate That 'We Are In This To Win' Gen. David Petraeus formally took command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan on Sunday. "We are engaged in a contest of wills," said Petraeus, who also added: "In answer, we must demonstrate to the people and to the Taliban that Afghan and international forces are here to safeguard the Afghan people, and that we are in this to win."

Biden To Iraqi Leaders: 'My Plea To You Is Finish What You Started' Speaking in Baghdad, Vice President Joe Biden urged Iraqi leaders to end their political deadlock. "You should not, and I'm sure you will not, let any state -- from the United States to any state in the region -- dictate what will become of you," said Biden. "So my plea to you is finish what you started through legitimate representative government that meets the needs and aspirations of all Iraqi people."

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If Michael Steele still has a job by the end of the week, he'll ironically have some of his toughest critics to thank. On Sunday, two of the GOP's most hawkish members stopped short of demanding Steele's resignation, after video footage surfaced late last week of the embattled RNC Chairman telling several Republican funders that America will likely lose the war in Afghanistan, and blaming President Obama for starting it.

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