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The new Quinnipiac poll of the New Jersey gubernatorial race finds that recent scandals haven't hurt Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie against Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine -- indeed, Christie's lead has actually increased slightly over the unpopular incumbent.

The numbers: Christie 47%, Corzine 37%, and independent Chris Daggett at 9%. Three weeks ago, the figure for the three-way race was 46%-40%-7%.

The pollster's analysis finds that Corzine's ads about Christie having given contracts to people tied to the Bush administration are not getting through -- people view it as an unfair attack. The issue of Christie's undisclosed loan to Michele Brown, his former subordinate in the U.S. Attorney's office scores a little higher -- but even here, a 49%-43% plurality view it as not being a legitimate issue.


President Obama points out cake crumbs that Vice President Biden dropped on the floor in the Oval Office following a birthday celebration for the President on August 4.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama walks to present cupcakes to columnist Helen Thomas in honor of her birthday on August 4. Thomas, who turned 89, shares the same birthday as the President, who turned 48.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama and Helen Thomas in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House on their birthdays.

White House/Pete Souza




White House staffers who are also fishing enthusiasts gave the President a fly fishing rod for his birthday.

White House/Pete Souza




Belgrade, Montana local fishing guide Dan Vermillion celebrates after Obama almost hooks a trout on the East Gallatin River on August 14.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama fishes in the East Gallatin River in Belgrade, Montana.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama and Vermillion in the East Gallatin River.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama at the Grand Canyon in Arizona on August 16.

White House/Pete Souza




The First Family listens to a park ranger on a tour of the Grand Canyon.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama buys ice cream at a store while visiting Yellowstone National Park on August 15.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama talks health care with Senior Advisor David Axelrod and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL, far left) on Air Force One en route to a town hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, on a conference call with faith leaders to discuss health insurance reform.

Obama told radio host Michael Smerconish "I don't want you messing with my Resolute Desk" when the two were joking and discussing the movie National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on August 20.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama and Axelrod on the Colonnade of the White House.

White House/Pete Souza




Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Joseph Medicine Crow (center, holding the drum) and the Obamas during a reception for recipients and their families in the Blue Room of the White House. See the TPM photo feature from that ceremony here.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama hugs actor Sidney Poitier, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, at the ceremony.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama in the Blue Room of the White House before the start of the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony. Recipients such as former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wait in the background.

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Obama and world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, also a Medal of Freedom recipient.

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Obama and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

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Obama and Sonia Sotomayor in the Oval Office on August 12, just before a reception for the new Supreme Court Justice.

White House/Pete Souza




Sotomayor and fellow Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the reception for Sotomayor.

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Sotomayor and her mother, Celina, at the August 12 reception in the East Room of the White House.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama with Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, outside the Oval Office.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama and members of the delegation traveling with Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama at an August 6 rally for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, with current Virginia Governor Tim Kaine in the background at the right.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama and the crowd of supporters at the August 6 campaign rally for Creigh Deeds in Tyson's Corner, Virginia.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama carries birthday cake for Phil Schiliro, assistant to the president for legislative affairs.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama attends a health care reform meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Clockwise from left: Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag, Counsel of Economic Advisors Chair Christy Romer, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Phil Schiliro, Director of the Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann Deparle, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Senior Advisor David Axelrod, President Obama, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama looks up at the ceiling of the Cabanas Cultural Center before a trilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the North American Leaders' Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico, on August 10.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama and Mexican President Calderon (right) and a display on the making of tequila at the Cabanas Cultural Center in Guadalajara.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama, Harper (left), and Calderon (right) are shown a display on the making of tequila at the Cabanas Cultural Center in Guadalajara.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama prepares to autographs books and photographs in a backstage holding room following a town hall meeting on health care reform at Central High School in Grand Junction, Colorado.

White House/Pete Souza




The Obama family disembarks from Air Force One at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama meets with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer following a town hall meeting on health care reform in Belgrade, Montana.

White House/Pete Souza




The Obamas and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama and daughters Sasha (left) and Malia (right) at Yellowstone National Park.

White House/Pete Souza




The President and the First Lady in the Blue Room of the White House prior to the Medal of Freedom ceremony.

White House/Pete Souza




The President and the First Lady in the Blue Room of the White House prior to the Medal of Freedom ceremony.

White House/Pete Souza




Obama and daughter Sasha with the card given to him during a birthday party with his staff in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Malia and Michelle Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and Timothy Geithner are all in the background.

White House/Pete Souza




The Obama family waits for Old Faithful to erupt during their visit to Yellowstone National Park.

White House/Pete Souza

On CNBC earlier today, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) gave Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) a lesson in the health care policy.



Republicans are fond of the line of critique which holds that employers will take advantage of the creation of a public option to drop their insurance coverage and pay the penalty, "forcing" their employees into the public option. To do this, they often cite a flawed study by the Lewin Group--a research center owned by the giant insurer Wellpoint.

But as Wasserman-Schultz articulates, that's not how the policy is set up. If employers drop their coverage, they'll have to pay into insurance exchanges, where their employees will be able to shop around for insurance plans, including, perhaps, but certainly not limited to, a public option.

Somehow, though, I doubt Pence will take this simple policy lesson to heart.

Retired Army Gen. Russel Honoré, who has been on a daylong media tour trying to knock down rumors that he was looking at a possible run for Senate in a Republican primary challenge against Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), has given his most specific denial to date, the Louisiana Weekly reports.

Honoré said he did not even know Joe Berry, the Republican consultant who claimed to have met with him to discuss a bid. "I am not running for office," said Honoré. "I don't know who this is. I was not at my home two weeks ago. I have no idea who this gentleman could be."

He also strongly disavowed that he was even a registered Republican, and that an official spokesman named Charles Lamley had said he was not ruling out a run: "I never declared myself as a Republican during the Reagan Administration. I have never lived in Zachary as he claimed. I have never heard of Charles Lamley."

Read More →

Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia, just had an unusually long conference call with reporters -- about 80 minutes -- in which he sought to walk back and minimize any political damage that might occur from his recently-revealed 1989 master's thesis at Regent University, in which the then-34-year-old McDonnell laid out a comprehensive religious right political program.

(For more goodies from the thesis, check out our write-up at TPMmuckraker.)

Said McDonnell: "A contention by my opponent [state Sen. Creigh Deeds] that a 20-year-old academic exercise somehow represents my 18-year career in public service is just a flat misrepresentation, and the Senator well knows that.'

McDonnell, point by point, disowned the positions he took in the thesis -- even at one point minimizing it as a "term paper." He said that he respects women in the workplace; that he would not try to re-restrict divorce; that he does not advocate discrimination against gays; and that he does not regard civil law is subject to Biblical law.

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Earlier today, Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU went on MSNBC, and made a crucial point about the decision to probe torture.

The problem, argued Jaffer, is not that we're investigating clear evidence of law-breaking -- as Dick Cheney and countless conservatives would have it. Rather, it's that the scope of the investigation, as we've noted, appears to be unduly narrow. As things stand, it focuses on CIA personnel, but ignores the Bush administration officials -- both Justice Department lawyers like John Yoo, and high-ranking policy-makers like Cheney himself -- who authorized and approved torture in the first place.

Read More →

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré has again dismissed rumors that he'll challenge Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in next year's election.

"I'm not running for Senate. I've never said I was running for Senate," Honoré told CNN Monday afternoon. But he didn't rule out future runs for political office.

"There are things that I dream about, but they will remain to be dreams until I get my family moved and we figure out what we're gonna do in the next few years," he said. He wouldn't elaborate.

BayouBuzz.com reported that the retired general was considering challenging Vitter in the Republican primary, after Honoré announced Saturday he would move back to Louisiana from Georgia in the coming months.

But this is the second time in two days that Honoré, best known for organizing military relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina, has tried to quash the rumors.


Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay is competing on Dancing With The Stars this season, partnered with professional dancer Cheryl Burke.

Courtesy ABC




DeLay is competing against celebrities including Ultimate Fighter Chuck Liddell, pop singer Aaron Carter, actress Melissa Joan Hart and others.

Courtesy ABC




In an appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews, DeLay held up his dancing shoes and exclaimed, "It's a little pump with high heels!"

Courtesy ABC




In that same interview, DeLay said he wanted to see President Obama's birth certificate.

Courtesy ABC




Dancing With The Stars premieres on ABC on Sept. 21.

Courtesy ABC




DeLay showed off his dancing shoes on Hardball Aug. 19.

The Washington Post yesterday reported on the masters thesis of Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. As the paper noted, McDonnell argued, among other things, that working women and feminists are "detrimental" to the family; that government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators;" and that the court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples was "illogical," because at the time non-marital sex was itself a crime.

Now we've taken our own look at the thesis -- written for Regent University in 1989, when McDonnell was already a married man of 34 years old. And it looks like the Post left out some other excerpts that might also give readers some pause.

Read More →

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today he was not pressured to raise the threat level days before the 2004 elections, despite writing in a new book that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "strongly urged" him to do so.

In The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege, Ridge wrote that although the men wanted to up the alert level, "There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None. I wondered, 'Is this about security or politics?'"

But now, Ridge is telling Good Morning America and the Erie Times-News that people are "hyperventilating" over what he wrote and taking it the wrong way. Compare for yourself.

From the book:

A vigorous, some might say dramatic, discussion ensued. Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level and was supported by Rumsfeld. ... We were on the verge of making a huge mistake. ... I believe our strong interventions had pulled the "go-up" advocates back from the brink.


Today, on Good Morning America:

[Ashcroft and Rumsfeld] expressed their opinions. ... The process worked ... It was designed so that nobody could pressure anybody to do anything. A consensus was reached.


And from the Erie Times-News:

There was no pressure at all.

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