TPM News

Marco Rubio, the man who hopes to deny Gov. Charlie Crist the Republican Senate nomination in Florida next year, is blasting his party's leadership in Washington for "shrill" rhetoric that he blames on "laziness."

In an interview with TPMDC this morning, Rubio said he's gaining traction against Crist because he's taking a different tack from national Republicans.

"In essence, that shrillness is a product of laziness," he said. "It's a lot harder to defeat people intellectually than it is to smear them. That's true on both sides, by the way."

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I just caught up with Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and asked him about a new idea floating around the Hill that would give states the choice to opt out of a national public option. Just, how nascent is the idea?

Here's what he said: "I've heard about it, I've not seen one...I was in a group like this somebody talking to somebody else, kind of raising it."

Does it sound like something that you could support?

"Honestly, I just don't know enough about it," he said.

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The Corzine campaign is going after Chris Christie for trying to back away from some very strong language he used when he was tacking right during the Republican primary -- attacking Corzine's pre-school programs as "baby-sitting."

Corzine jumped on that in one of his ads, which slammed Christie on education. In an interview Tuesday night with New Jersey political pundit Steve Adubato, Christie said that the attack was "out of context." When Adubato asked whether Christie did in fact use the term "babysitting," Christie responded: "I used it in an answer, but I did not use it pejoratively, as they're trying to make it sound in the ad."

Check out the new Web video from the Corzine campaign, where you can see Christie attacking Corzine's pre-K funding, "because he decided that the government should babysit for children. It's simply wrong."

Remember that move by Texas governor Rick Perry to not to reappoint the chair of a panel looking into a flawed arson investigation that may have led to the execution of an innocent man? Well it's looking dodgier than ever.

Last week, Perry announced he would not reappoint Chair Sam Bassett and two other members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, which is looking into the probe that led to the execution of Cameron Willingham -- despite strong evidence that he may have been innocent. The panel members terms had expired.

Perry himself, as governor, had signed off on the 2004 execution, leading critics to charge that the decision on Bassett -- who had appeared to push for an aggressive inquiry into missteps in the original probe -- was an attempt by the governor to short-circuit an effort that could have been politically damaging as he faces a tough re-election campaign.

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At a press conference today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is considering imposing a windfall profits tax on health insurers in order to pay for health care reform.

"I believe that all of the participants, whether it's the insurance companies or the pharmaceutical industry, have much more they can put on the table to help reduce cost," she said.

She said she's asked Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, to look into such a tax.

"When we see that, maybe that's something we can put in the mix," she said, warning that the idea is "very preliminary."

Meet Randolph Bragg, a Northern Virginia actor who was paid $150 to educate the public about the national debt by standing outside the White House in a tattered Uncle Sam costume.

The 17 bearded "Sams" were all over the D.C. area Tuesday, holding signs and handing out fancy brochures sending people to Defeat the Debt to get a handle on "why you should care" about skyrocketing debt. The group also ran a full-page Wall Street Journal ad.

The Employment Policies Institute is behind the effort, which senior research analyst Justin Wilson told TPMDC has cost them "millions" and is funded by private donations.

TPM readers may be familiar with EPI front man Rick Berman, a conservative who is affiliated with tons of groups working to "defeat" various things, including the Employee Free Choice Act.

"People accuse us of being a front group on this issue ... there's no hidden agenda," Wilson said.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL), the frontrunner for the 2010 Senate race in his state, raised $2.4 million in the third quarter, and has $6.2 million on hand.

It is not immediately known how much of the money can be used in the Republican primary, where Crist faces a challenge from the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio. Rubio has raised much less money, taking in only about $1 million in this past quarter and $350,00 in the quarter before that. His campaign has said that nearly all the money is for the primary, but it's probably still much lower than Crist's primary funds.

Rubio campaign spokesman Alex Burgos responded to the numbers in a statement to TPM: "Money can't wipe away Charlie Crist's record of support for wasteful stimulus spending, historic tax increases and cap-and-trade. We're going to make sure he spends every last cent trying."

(Additional reporting by Evan McMorris-Santoro.)

President Obama is having lunch today in his private dining room with several business leaders: Jeff Bezos of, Lew Hay of Florida Power & Light, Antonio Perez of Eastman Kodak and Irene Rosenfeld of Kraft.

According to a White House press release:

The Administration has continued to seek the input of a diverse group of business leaders in order to hear directly from the private sector about key issues including the health of the financial sector, health insurance reform, climate change policy and job creation.

At a town hall in Commerce, Ga., last week, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a "domestic enem[y] of the Constitution."

"When I was sworn into the Marine Corps, I was sworn to uphold the Constitution against every enemy, foreign and domestic," he said. "We've got a lot of domestic enemies of the Constitution and one of those sits in the speaker's chair of the United States Congress, Nancy Pelosi."

Athens Banner-Herald reporter Blake Aued was at the Sept. 28 town hall and forwarded his transcript to TPM. He had liveblogged the event, but the liveblog didn't remain on the Banner-Herald's site afterward.

He also said the Second Amendment is "critical to prevent treason in America."

Broun was responding to a woman who asked, "What would our founding fathers say about the mess that we have?"

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