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Sen. Jim DeMint is already hitting the virtual campaign trail for the 2012 Senate races, National Journal reports, with his Senate Conservatives Fund leadership PAC sending out a fundraising email targeting four red-state Democrats who voted against the earmark moratorium.

The targeted Senators are Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Kent Conrad (D-ND) and the newly-elected Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who just won a special election and is up for a vote again in 2012. All four of them hail from states that were carried by John McCain in 2008.

"These senators are nice folks but they have ignored the will of the American people and they must be replaced with principled conservatives in 2012," DeMint says in the email. "That's where the Senate Conservatives Fund comes in and it's where you can help."

DeMint then adds that his PAC will need "at least $4 million" for these four targeted races.

Four of the many candidates seeking to replace Michael Steele at the head of the Republican National Committee took a break from the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing of an RNC chair race yesterday to make their case to the tea party. Whether the tea party paid attention is still anyone's guess.

Former Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis, former Ambassador and Missouri GOP chair Ann Wagner, former RNC chair Mike Duncan and recently departed RNC political director Gentry Collins gathered for a debate of sorts before an audience of tea partiers hosted by FreedomWorks in Washington. Of the four who appeared, only Anuzis and Wagner are official candidates, though Collins is expected to jump into the race officially at any moment. Duncan's appearance was something of a surprise, though he clearly came prepared to mount a run at the job he lost to Steele in 2009.

The movement that has come to define the Republican Party this year was invited by members of the GOP establishment to play a part in electing the chair. Establishment types hope that by bringing the tea party to the table, they can unite a party still fractured somewhat after nasty primaries. The debate featured a number of questions about how to go about doing that -- but few answers.

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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is also a presumptive candidate for President in the 2012 election, which was a topic of conversation on The Tonight Show last night. Host Jay Leno opened the light, if not somewhat boring interview with questions about a potential White House bid, to which Romney replied, "If you ever see me sign up for a gig on Fox News, it'll be a clear indication that I've decided to run for president," adding "that's not in the cards anytime soon, thanks."

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Two former federal prosecutors who were suspended from the House ethics committee -- both of whom previously worked for Republican appointed judges -- reportedly kept probing allegations against Rep. Maxine Waters even after the subcommittee recommended the California Democrat be tried for ethics violations.

Cindy Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign apparently ruffled feathers by continuing to investigate Waters after the investigative subcommittee made its recommendations in August, several Republican sources on Capitol Hill told the Washington Post.

"They were pushing too hard" to broaden the investigation, one Republican staff aide told the newspaper. Kim and Sovereign circulated a memo supporting the postponement of the trial and imploring the committee to investigate further, the source said.

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The state of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Justice have refused to defend former District Attorney Kenneth Kratz, who is facing a lawsuit from a woman who alleges Kratz sent her sexually suggestive text messages while he was handling her domestic abuse case.

State Justice Department spokesman William Cosh confirmed to TPM that the DOJ declined to represent Kratz, who is also under criminal investigation by the Wisconsin DOJ, which Cosh said "remains an open and ongoing investigation."

Cosh noted that it would be up to the Governor to decide whether the state should provide a defense for Kratz, which Chief Legal Counsel Susan Crawford declined to do yesterday evening.

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Adrian Parsons -- the artist whose video montage depicting an ant-swarmed Jesus Christ was removed from the National Portrait Gallery after the conservative noise machine screamed sacrilege -- is staging a solo protest.

At 7 p.m. yesterday, artist Adrian Parsons stood alone in front of the National Portrait Gallery with no gloves in 38-degree weather. A McDonalds coffee keeps one hand warm, and a box being used as a sign keeps the other covered up. On one side of that box, Parsons has written "National Censor Gallery." The other side says, "Support Censor the Arts." He's been in front of the gallery since 2 p.m., which is less than 24 hours after director Martin Sullivan bowed to conservative pressure and removed a work of art by David Wojnarowicz that politicians had deemed offensive.

Censure Almost Certain As Rangel Ethics Case Ends The Associated Press reports: "Rep. Charles Rangel faces an almost certain censure by the House, a devastating defeat for a 40-year veteran who insisted to the end that he never meant to violate House rules. If the House votes for censure Thursday as expected, the New York Democrat will have to humbly walk to the front of the chamber to receive his punishment. He'll stand in front of his colleagues while Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- in one of her most solemn duties -- reads him a resolution condemning his ethical misbehavior."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:45 a.m. ET. Obama will meet at 10:15 a.m. ET with Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH), who was defeated for re-election this past November, and he will meet with senior advisers at 10:35 a.m. ET. Obama and Biden will meet for lunch at 12 p.m. ET. The two will meet with newly elected governors at 1 p.m. ET, and will meet at 3 p.m. ET with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The President and First Lady will host a Hanukkah reception at 6:35 p.m. ET.

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Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), who recently fired his Chief of Staff Robert Dechine after Dechine was arrested for soliciting sex from a minor, is in the market for a new one--one with the highest personal integrity.

Via Ryan Reilly, the job listing:

From: Cevasco, Marc Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:24 PM To: Dem CoS All Subject: Senior Democratic House Appropriator seeks professional Chief of Staff Senior Democratic House Appropriator seeks professional Chief of Staff with good character, outstanding leadership qualities, extensive House or Senate senior staff experience and great ability. Must be likeable, possess excellent political instincts, a keen understanding of the media, be an effective manager, and have some familiarity with the appropriations process. Needs to be innovative, considerate person with the highest personal integrity, with excellent management, organizational and interpersonal skills to effectively coordinate and lead established, outstanding DC and NJ team. Campaign and fundraising knowledge important. Understanding of local, state and federal agencies needed. Knowledge of New Jersey preferred. Willing to work as partner with Member, and have ability to serve as his primary policy and political advisor. Excellent salary and work environment. Please e-mail resume and cover letter to Acting Chief of Staff, Marc Cevasco.

Aqua Buddhists need not apply: Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) on Wednesday unveiled some interesting tourism plans for his state, announcing a plan to construct a "creationist theme park."

A joint project between Beshear and Answers in Genesis -- a Christian organization that also built a similar attraction, the Creation Museum -- the park will reportedly cost at least $150 million and create 900 jobs, according to the news release.

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Michael Steele's Republican National Committee is leaking frustrated officials like a sieve. For the second time since the Republican Party's epic wins on Nov. 2, one of the professionals at the RNC has bailed on the committee while offering a behind-the-scenes view of a total fiscal collapse.

The Washington Post reports Boyd Rutherford, chief administrative officer, sent a letter to RNC political staffer Derek Flowers today warning him that the "that many of those who provided political services to [the RNC] during the 2010 election would not be paid this week as originally planned."

The reason, according to the letter, is a "cashflow challenge" at the committee. Now Flowers, who the Post reports had planned on staying at the RNC until the many vendors that served the party this year were paid, will "in fact be leaving the RNC today."

The RNC told the Post that all the debts will be "paid in a timely manner," but Steele's growing chorus of detractors will likely point to the letter as yet another example of the committee's gaffe-prone chairman failing to properly manage the less exciting aspects of his job -- like fundraising.

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