TPM News

Tommy Thompson, the former four-term Wisconsin governor and Bush-era Health and Human Services Secretary, has now taken significant steps toward running for the open Senate seat in his state, where Democrat Herb Kohl is retiring.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Thompson has announced two co-chairs for his nascent campaign: Former top political aide Jim Klauser, and current state Attorney General JB. Van Hollen.

"I'm honored to have the support and commitment of Jim and J.B.," Thompson said in a statement. "We need to get America working again. We can do better, and it begins with getting government out the way of creating the jobs that make our families and communities stronger."

Following Kohl's retirement announcement in May, Thompson said that he would wait until after the very high-profile state Senate recalls, which concluded this past Tuesday, to make a decision about whether he would run for the U.S. Senate.

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Signalling a possible run for office, consumer advocate and Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren has launched an exploratory committee in Massachusetts.

The website,, went live on Thursday with a contact form for supporters interested in tracking her decision. According to the Boston Globe, Warren filed the paperwork for the new committee the same day. Warren has been heavily courted by top Senate Democrats to run against Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who took office after winning the 2010 special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy. She gained a national following in her role as head of the Congressional Oversight Panel Chair for TARP and was a leading advocate for the creation of a consumer protection agency, a key piece of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Warren has been on a "listening tour" of the state this week and recently published a post on liberal blog Blue Mass Group in which she sounded very much like a candidate.

"It is time for me to think hard about what role I can play next to help rebuild a middle class that has been hacked at, chipped at, and pulled at for more than a generation--and that that is under greater strain every day," she wrote.


By John Voelcker

How many vehicles are there on Earth?

We'd ask you to guess, except the headline above gives away the answer.

According to industry trade journal Ward's, which added up both reported vehicle registrations and historical trends, the total crossed 1 billion sometime last year.

The vehicles include passenger cars, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks, and buses, but not off-road or heavy construction vehicles.

The total at the end of 2009 was about 980 million, and with strong growth in emerging regions--particularly China, now by far the world's biggest car market--the number powered past the 1-billion mark sometime last summer.

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Stephen Colbert says Texas Gov. Rick Perry has the biggest "huevos rancheros" in the 2012 Republican presidential race. So, naturally, he's long been beating back all those "wannabe Super PACs to become Rick Perry's official unofficial, non-connected, independent expenditure, all-you-can-eat money trough."

While there's no official connection between Colbert's PAC and Perry's campaign, Colbert said on Wednesday night, "I think he likes me back."

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Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is taking a rhetorical shot at one of President Obama's possible election opponents, slamming the education system in Gov. Rick Perry's home state of Texas.

"Far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college," Duncan said on Bloomberg Television. "I feel very, very badly for the children there."

"You have seen massive increases in class size," Duncan also added. "You've seen cutbacks in funding. It doesn't serve the children well. It doesn't serve the state well. It doesn't serve the state's economy well. And ultimately it hurts the country."

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Rick Perry's intimidating talk on Ben Bernanke may be too much even for Ron Paul, the patron saint of the anti-Fed GOP movement.

Paul mocked Perry's recent statement that Bernanke's polices may be "almost treasonous" on the campaign trail in New Hampshire Wednesday, referring to him only as "this other governor" and claiming he forgot his name.

"He realizes that talking about the Fed is good, too," Paul said, according to the LA Times. "But I'll tell you what, he makes me look like a moderate. I have never once said that Bernanke has committed treason."

Then the punchline: "But I have suggested very strongly that the Federal Reserve system and all the members have been counterfeiters for a long time."

Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman (R) is pushing legislation to repeal the part of the 1973 Voting Rights Act that allows districts with heavy populations of non-English speakers to print ballots in multiple languages.

"Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all," Coffman said, according to the Denver Post.

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President Obama on Thursday issued his most explicit call to date for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down from power after months of the Syrian leader's brutal assaults on peaceful pro-reform protestors.

In a written statement, Obama urged Assad to resign and announced a host of new sanctions against the Syrian government. Previously, the President and the administration had said only that Assad had lost all credibility to rule Syria.

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Jon Stewart on Wednesday night slammed the media's horse-race approach to political coverage.

Sunday, fresh off her Iowa straw poll win, belonged to Michele Bachman. Her strong showing in Ames "vaulted" her to the front of the GOP pack, Stewart said. But that was Sunday.

Then, "after careful reflection," the media decided to dedicate Monday and Tuesday to Texas governor and newly minted presidential candidate Rick Perry, whose "stunning entrance" vaulted him to the front of the race.

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