TPM News

In an interview with Washingtonian magazine, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele suggests that press coverage of his troubled tenure has less to do with his verbal gaffes and paid speeches, and more to do with his race.

Greg Sargent has the relevant passage:

But there's an edge to his voice when he talks about a double standard that he believes has been applied by his critics, and he posits racism as the cause: "I don't see stories about the internal operations of the DNC that I see about this operation. Why? Is it because Michael Steele is the chairman, or is it because a black man is chairman?"

It's unclear whether Steele is saying racism is behind leaks from the GOP about his troubles, or the press coverage thereof.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has declared that America has a serious obligation to support Israel -- and if not, God will curse the United States, and it will be the end of this country.

The Minnesota Independent reports that Bachmann told the Republican Jewish Coalition, at an event last week in Los Angeles:

"I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States . . . [W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle."

The new survey of the Texas gubernatorial race by Public Policy Polling (D) has some bad news for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is challenging incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary. Hutchison is now just barely holding on to second place, and could be overtaken for a spot in the primary runoff by businesswoman and conservative activist Debra Medina.

The numbers: Perry 39%, Hutchison 28%, Medina 24%, with a ±4.8% margin of error. If no candidate gets over 50% of the vote in the primary on March 2, a runoff will be held on April 13. Hutchison has previously discussed this possibility -- but this poll suggests that there's a chance that she has to work hard to get into the runoff itself.

From the pollster's analysis: "Perry is at 39% to 28% for Kay Bailey Hutchison and 24% for Medina. There are major splits within the race along ideological lines. Perry is at 42% with conservatives, and Medina is now outpolling Hutchison with them by a 25-23 margin. Hutchison cleans up with moderates, leading Perry 49-29, but unfortunately for her prospects they account for only 20% of GOP primary voters."

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On Friday, Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota gave a speech to Republican Party activists in Montgomery, Alabama. But Pawlenty, who's seen as a top GOP presidential contender for 2012, brought something with him besides his notes, reports Minnesota Public Radio: a $100,000 check for the Alabama Republican Party, from an anonymous donor.

The existence of the check -- said to be earmarked to help Alabama GOPers win control of the state legislature -- was announced, before Pawlenty's speech, by Alabama Republican chair Mike Hubbard. (You can listen to the audio of Hubbard's announcement here)

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The passing of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) has triggered a special election that could have national implications for both parties.

Murtha's district is a swing seat, in general terms. It always returned Murtha by comfortable margins, but underneath that were some close races. John Kerry carried it with 51% in 2004, but it gave John McCain a very narrow 49% plurality in 2008 -- the only district in the whole country to actually cross the line from Kerry in 2004 to McCain in 2008.

Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell has 10 days to select a date for the election, which could occur at the same time as the regular Pennsylvania primary, May 18, in order to save the substantial money that a separate election would require. Under Pennsylvania laws, there would not be primaries for the special election -- instead, the parties would select candidates through their own internal processes. Whoever wins the special election would then face the voters again in the regular 2010 general election.

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The California Republican Party is being roiled by a controversy stemming from allegations about the private life of chairman Ron Nehring.

Last night, the San Diego GOP voted by 44-1 to boot one of its members from the county's central committee, citing "inappropriate behavior." The member, Michael Crimmins, who was the party's nominee in 2008 against incumbent Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis, had sent an email to state party leaders, raising concerns about the behavior of Nehring and San Diego County chair Tony Krvaric.

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President Obama's reconstituted campaign arm--Organizing for America--says it's renewing its commitment to passing health care reform legislation. At a moment when health care reform seems precariously close to defeat, OFA is once again reaching out to its members to push members of Congress to get the job done.

"Congress is weighing options and hearing plenty of special interest voices telling them to give up," reads an email to supporters from OFA Director Mitch Stewart sent this morning.

They need to understand that their constituents want them to keep fighting. So today, we're relaunching our Health Care Action Center to give you all the tools and information you need to fight for reform. At the Action Center, you can make calls, write letters, speak out in your community, and weigh in directly with Congress. There's information about what the President stands for, and personal stories that show why reform is so important. So check it out today: Many of our senators and representatives are working overtime to gather support for a final bill and pass reform, and they should know we're standing with them. And the rest need to understand their constituents still demand action. We're so close to real reform -- we can't stop now.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is putting forward a very daring proposal for how to fix Social Security and Medicare, Think Progress reports: Get rid of them.

Bachmann spoke this past weekend at the right-wing Constitutional Coalition in St. Louis, Missouri, and put forth her plan. "So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don't have any other options, we have to keep faith with them. But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off," said Bachmann. "And wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can't do it. So we just have to be straight with people. So basically, whoever our nominee is, is going to have to have a Glenn Beck chalkboard and explain to everybody this is the way it is."

It certainly is interesting to see a Republican not talk in any euphemistic terms about personal accounts, or about saving the system, etc., but to openly admit that the goal is to no longer provide the social benefits themselves, and to transition away from them.

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