TPM News

Sen. Michael Bennet's campaign will get a presidential boost later this month, with a visit from President Obama on tap for Feb. 18.

Bennet (D-CO) is facing a tough primary challenge and the seat is a top target for Republicans. He was appointed to replace Sen. Ken Salazar, who stepped down to become Obama's Secretary of the Interior.

Craig Hughes, Bennet's campaign manager, sent supporters an email today announcing the Obama visit as a "special day."

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House Republicans are at pains to point out that a far-reaching budget roadmap unveiled by their top budget guy, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), isn't their budget, but when asked today at a press conference what about Ryan's budget he disagreed with, Minority Leader John Boehner couldn't name anything.

"Off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you," Boehner said.

Despite the apparent lack of substantive disagreement, though, Boehner wants to keep the Ryan plan from sticking to the GOP.

"Paul Ryan, who's the ranking member on our budget committee, has done an awful lot of work in putting together his roadmap," Boehner said. "But it's his. And I know the Democrats are trying to say that it's the Republican leadership. But they know that's not the case."

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A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that American partisanship can even extend to sports.

The poll finds that 32% of registered voters are rooting for the New Orleans Saints to win the Super Bowl, to 22% cheering on the Colts. Democrats are for the Saints by 36%-21%, Republicans are split 26%-25% for the Colts, and independents are for the Saints by 33%-20%.

While this poll might seem unimportant, there is in fact a crucial message: Democrats still have the independent voters on something!

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed civil securities fraud charges against Bank of America and the firm's former CEO Ken Lewis, reports (sub. req.) the Wall Street Journal.

Cuomo alleges that Lewis, Chief Financial Officer Joe Price, and other BofA execs, chose not to disclose to shareholders the extent of the losses at Merrill Lynch before BofA bought the ailing Wall St. investment bank in late 2008.

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Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, who was in a photo-finish Democratic gubernatorial primary against incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, has now conceded the race to Quinn, officially clearing the way for Quinn to fight the general election against the Republican nominee -- a matter that is itself yet to be determined since both parties' primaries yielded close results.

The winner was not immediately clear on election night. Quinn declared victory with a lead of about 7,000 votes, though Hynes did not yet concede. The most up to date results have Quinn winning by 8,090 votes, out of a total of 912,662 votes.

At a Hynes press event (streamed on the ABC affiliate in Chicago), Hynes spokesman Matt McGrath announced that Hynes had called Quinn about a half an hour earlier. Hynes then took to the podium. "Well, the people have spoken, and the votes have been counted. And I'm here to report that we rose up, but fell just a little short," said Hynes. "And if democracy means anything, it means that the campaign with the most votes wins. We did the right thing, we made sure all the votes were counted, and now we know for sure that it wasn't us. And now let's do the right thing again."

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Republican Rep. Mark Kirk enters the Illinois Senate race as the member of the House who has consistently reaped the biggest contribution totals from pro-Israel PACs, making a name for himself through five terms in Congress as a hardline leader on legislation relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Kirk, who is considered a moderate Republican on most issues, sailed to an easy victory in the GOP primary this week and goes into the general election race as a strong contender for Barack Obama's old Senate seat.

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Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) is scheduled to become Sen. Scott Brown at 5 p.m. ET today.

The White House announced a schedule change to the vice president's schedule today: he's now scheduled to swear Brown in at the Capitol at 5 p.m. ET.

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Senate Democrats want to vote on the first installment of a jobs package as early as Monday, amping up the pressure on Republicans to get aboard. But for the moment, they're not biting.

"We'll have a vote on a jobs bill on Monday," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said at a press conference today.

There's just one wrinkle: According to the Senate's top vote counter, there is currently no Republican support for the proposal Democrats are putting forth--and with Scott Brown to be seated today as the 41st Republican Senator, they'll need at least one member of the minority to come aboard.

"You need two to tango. And you need Republicans for bipartisanship," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).

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