TPM News

Turns out unity for Kentucky Republicans closely resembles what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama looked like two years ago in Unity, New Hampshire - former rivals joining together with big smiles in hopes of defeating the enemy from the other party. The photos look great, but a general discomfort remains among the staunchest supporters who lost out.

On the ground in the Bluegrass state, Republicans are excited by the prospects of the Rand Paul candidacy -- they say he can bring fresh blood and fresh enthusiasm to the party and that can help up and down the ballot. But they remain wary of his unique views -- and the possibility of more days like Thursday ahead.

On Saturday, Paul and one-time establishment favorite Trey Grayson will come together for a staged rally with all the key players -- from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on down -- telling their voters to come together for the sake of winning the general election in November. TPMDC spoke today with several Kentucky Republicans who insisted they will be able to forge the right kind of agreement to beat Democratic nominee Jack Conway. But privately, they admit it might not be so easy.

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Kentucky Attorney General and Democratic nominee for Senate Jack Conway released a statement today criticizing Rand Paul for saying that President Obama's comments about BP's role in the Gulf Coast oil spill were "really un-American."

In the statement, Conway says, "we need a senator who will hold companies accountable."

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Some of the Democrats who fought hardest to strengthen the Wall Street reform bill are at the same time seeking to preserve a tax loophole for money managers, which, if closed, could be used to pay for extending benefits, health care subsidies, and job creation for the unemployed. And now the biggest players in Democratic politics are taking aim at them.

"I don't know how you explain to the nurse struggling to pay her mortgage or the security guard whose son can't afford college that they should pay higher taxes than Wall Street hedge fund managers and venture capitalists," SEIU spokesperson Lori Lodes tells me. "They see what's happening in their communities - states cutting back vital services, more of their neighbors losing their jobs. What they will never be able to understand is Senators holding up a needed jobs package because they want to look out for money managers."

The senators she's talking about are almost all Democrats--including John Kerry (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who actually voted against Wall Street reform for not doing enough to rein in financial industry excess.

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So we all know that Rand Paul, at least until recently, had some serious concerns about the part of the Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination by private businesses. But people may not know much else about the GOP's new Senate nominee from Kentucky.

Here's a quick primer:

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Campaigning for his father in Montana back in 2008, Rand Paul spoke out against the NAFTA Superhighway, encouraging Congress to stop the mythical project that would connect Mexico, the U.S., and Canada and, critics say, deal a fatal blow to American sovereignty. Long a bugaboo on some segments of the Right, the NAFTA Superhighway does not actually exist.

"It's gonna go up through Texas, I guess, all the way to Montana," said Paul, at an event in Bozeman. "So, it's a real thing, and when you talk about it, the thing you just have to be aware of is that, if you talk about it like it's a conspiracy, they'll paint you as a nut."

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A pipe bomb exploded at a mosque in north Florida May 10 and is being investigated as a possible hate crime. The FBI says they have few leads, and have joined the mosque and a nearby church in offering a $20,000 reward for information.

The bomb went off during evening prayers, when about 60 people were at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville. No one was injured.

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