TPM News

Republican nominee Marco Rubio was the clear target in last night's primetime debate among the Florida Senate race's three candidates. And according to recent polls, it was for good reason.

A new Mason-Dixon poll out today has the Republican leading big in the fight against independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek: Rubio is found ahead of Crist and Meek, respectively, 42%-27%-21%. When Mason-Dixon last took a look at this race on September 22, the Republican earned 40%, versus Crist's 28% and Meek's 23%.

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On the heels of a successful anti-Palin campaign called "Sarah Doesn't Speak for Me," the group Emily's List, dedicated to electing pro-choice women, is rolling out a new GOTV effort, warning voters that John Boehner would roll back progress for women if he becomes Speaker of the House.

"I'm not going to pull out a whiteboard to draw you a picture, but I want to connect the dots very clearly for you," said Emily's List president Stephanie Schriock at an event today. "John Boehner can only take the speaker's gavel from Nancy Pelosi by defeating the Democratic women you and I have worked so hard to elect. And by discouraging women voters so much that they stay home on November 2nd."

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On the one hand, the GOP wants to extend the Bush tax cuts indefinitely, at a cost of $4 trillion over the next 10 years. On the other hand they hint at -- but ultimately shy away from -- Medicare or Social Security cuts, the biggest chunk of domestic federal spending. Then on the third hand, they say they want to balance the budget.

As we've pointed out, the broad non-specific cuts they do propose would necessitate slashing federal spending on schools, cops, and medical research. But on PBS last night, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a Young Gun leader, and rising star in the GOP, laid out some budget items.

"Anybody who rides a first class ticket on Amtrak...when you buy that sleeper car, the tax payer spends $364 subsidizing your ticket, so you can have your bed drawn down," McCarthy said, proposing to save much less than one percent of the federal budget by skimping on high-end train service.

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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Bill O'Reilly last night that the federal government hasn't made a decision about whether to investigate if the maid of GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman lied on her employment forms.

But Napolitano did assure O'Reilly's viewers -- at the host's prodding -- that the government "will look at this very seriously."

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Christine O'Donnell is turning her sights on a familiar bogeyman of the Republican base, in her efforts to rehabilitate her image in the Delaware Senate election: The "liberal media" that has made her look bad.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Christine O'Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee.]

CNN reported on an O'Donnell appearance at a local Republican event today, where she reportedly pinned her problems on the "liberal meda," and on lies that have been told about her.

"I've put my name on the line. And I've taken a lot of hits, a lot of slander, a lot of character assassination," O'Donnell said.

Funny thing about the claim of character assassination. One of the things that helped O'Donnell win the Republican primary was the fact that some of her backers -- and on at least one occasion, O'Donnell herself -- traded in innuendo and rumors about her establishment-backed opponent, Rep. Mike Castle, suggesting that he was gay.

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A new conservative anti-spending film starring Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee aimed at influencing the midterm elections paints President Clinton as chasing Sarah Palin's skirt and includes a scene where a cartoon Ronald Reagan K.O.'s President Obama in a boxing ring.

Filmmaker Ray Griggs has told TPM in an interview he used animation in "I Want Your Money" because he wanted to educate young people about the deficit. Problem is, the facts he uses are skewed to make Obama and Nancy Pelosi look like spending bandits -- and, while he canonizes Reagan, he fails to mention that the Gipper also raised taxes.

TPM obtained a copy of the film, which includes interviews with Gingrich, Huckabee, Andrew Breitbart and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Griggs' narration about the good 'ol days under Reagan, interviews with tea partiers, man-on-the-street clips from New York's Times Square about the definition of socialism and several cringe-worthy animated scenes of Obama interacting with former presidents dead and living.

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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said on Fox News last night that Christine O'Donnell has the right idea with her "I'm not a witch. I'm you," ad, but Palin thinks O'Donnell should go further.

"That's very positive," Palin told Fox's Sean Hannity after he played O'Donnell's first television ad.

"What I think she could add is to explain what the real witchcraft and voodoo politics and economics is and that's what's going on in DC," Palin said

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The Democrats don't really have a cavalry of outside groups this year to run the sorts of hard-hitting ads that the parties typically like to keep some distance from. So this year, they have little choice but to run them on their own.

This DCCC ad might be the most brutal of the cycle.

It tells the story of Jeff Perry, the GOP candidate hoping to take Rep. Bill Delahunt's seat in Massachusetts' 10th Congressional district. In a well documented scandal, Perry was the supervising officer of a cop in Wareham, Scott Flanagan, who at least twice in the mid-1990s conducted illegal strip searches of female teenage suspects.

"Imagine your teenage daughter illegally strip-searched by police," the ad says.

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Republicans promised they'd knock Democrats for not renewing (most of) the Bush tax cuts before hitting the campaign trail, and they're now making good on their word.

A new ad running in Michigan's first congressional district typifies the sort of attacks vulnerable Democrats will facing in the last weeks of campaign season. In the segment the Republican contender, Dan Benishek, saddles his opponent with the looming expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

"I favor lower taxes, not higher taxes," Benishek declares. "What should really scare us is the huge tax increase set for January 1. We should be scared of losing more jobs.... The Obama-Granholm-McDowell jobs strategy has failed."

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A new survey of Connecticut by Public Policy Polling (D) provides a fascinating look into the possible future of independent Sen. Joe Lieberman. To be exact, the former Democrat is incredibly unpopular with most voters -- and only marginally popular with Republicans -- and would have a hard time avoiding a landslide defeat should he run again in 2012.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Broken Promises: The Story Of Joe The Democrat]

Lieberman's political journey over the last four years has sure alienated a lot of folks. After he lost the 2006 Democratic primary, he was then re-elected as an independent with unofficial Republican support. He then campaigned aggressively for John McCain for president in 2008, and spoke at the Republican National Convention -- but after McCain lost, he settled back into place in the Democratic caucus. Then he helped to stop the public option during the health care debate, promising to support a Republican filibuster, but also voted for final passage of the eventual law sans public option.

Lieberman's approval rating stands at only 31%, with 57% disapproval -- even lower than the 36%-54% for Sen. Chris Dodd, who is retiring. Broken down by party, Lieberman's rating is 20%-69% among Democrats, 46%-41% among Republicans, and 31%-56% among independents.

Respondents were also asked this question: "Generally speaking in 2012 will you vote to reelect Joe Lieberman or would you rather replace him with someone else?" The answer was only 24% to re-elect him, against 66% who would vote to replace him.

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