TPM News

Some new details on this week's turmoil at the Washington Times: A longtime staffer confirms that executive editor John Solomon is nowhere to be seen -- and that the very mention of his name brings managing editor David Jones to tears.

"No one has heard from Solomon and no one knows if he's coming back," the Times staffer tells TPM. "We ask David Jones about his status and he literally tears up."

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Republicans could still be having trouble with candidate recruitment against Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), The Hill reports -- specifically, from local Republicans who are unhappy with the current de facto frontrunner for the nomination.

Grayson, of course, is the fiery liberal best known for saying the GOP's health care plan is for sick people to "die quickly," and who also called former Vice President Dick Cheney a vampire, and referred to a female lobbyist as a "K Street whore." Although Grayson represents a swing seat, Republicans have had trouble recruiting a top-tier challenger, with many potential recruits shying away.

Into the void has stepped Armando Gutierrez, a 28-year-old real estate developer who has moved to Orlando from Miami, in order to run for the seat. "He's pissing people off a lot," said an anonymous local GOP operative. "He's very pushy and is an unknown commodity, and people are jealously guarding their prerogatives."

Gutierrez brushed off the criticism. "As long as I keep getting calls and people want to meet me in Central Florida, I'm happy," said Gutierrez. "As long as that continues to happen, the momentum and the will of the people is going our way."

The Republican primary for Senate in Ohio could be starting to heat up, with anti-establishment candidate Tom Ganley, an auto dealer, launching his new statewide ad buy to introduce himself to the voters.

The ad does not directly attack former Rep. Rob Portman, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but simply denounces "the Washington politicians." The ad focuses on Ganley's own background in business, his call for lower spending and his opposition to bailouts, and his role in an FBI investigation against organized crime in Ohio.

A Quinnipiac poll from September gave Portman a lead over Ganley -- but it was only a 27%-9% leads, with very high undecideds and both candidates largely unknown with the voters.

The leader of a grassroots reproductive rights group is getting a sit down with President Obama today as the White House and Democratic leaders face a pro-choice backlash on a provision related to abortion in the health care bill.

Erin Matson, Vice President, Action at the National Organization of Women said her boss is meeting with Obama. Matson said the group was blindsided when the Stupak amendment ended up in the health care bill that past Friday night.

"Everyone was stunned by this we did not expect this to be part of the health care bill," she said on the ABC News online show TopLine.

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Colorado State Sen. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) posted a tweet yesterday that called for a derailing of President Obama's agenda in a rather bold way. The blog Colorado Pols caught the statement from Schultheis's account.

"Don't for a second, think Obama wants what is best for U.S. He is flying the U.S. Plane right into the ground at full speed. Let's Roll," the tweet reads.

"Let's roll" were the final words of Todd Beamer, a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93, one of the four flights hijacked on September 11 and the only one to crash before reaching its intended target. The flight was diverted to Washington, D.C. after it was hijacked, but crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers tried to thwart the hijackers.

This isn't the first time Sen. Schultheis has had his brash way with words. The staunch conservative lawmaker voted against a Colorado bill requiring pregnant women to undergo HIV testing to help reduce risks for the baby and offered this in the way of an explanation:

What I'm hoping is that yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that. The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years ... begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior. We can't keep people from being raped. We can't keep people from shooting each other. We can't keep people from jumping off bridges. People drink and drive, and they crash and kill people. Poor behavior has its consequences.

After a wreath-laying ceremony this morning at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama gave a speech thanking veterans for their service.

"There is no tribute, no commemoration, no praise that can truly match the magnitude of your service and your sacrifice," he said.

"We call this a holiday. For many veterans it's another day of memories that drive them to live their lives each day as best as they possibly can," he said. "For troops, it's another day in harm's way ... for the wounded, it's another day of slow and arduous recovery."

Obama said the troops who've fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are as valued as those who fought in World War II and other wars.

"This generation already deserves a place alongside previous generations for the sacrifices they have made," he said. (Read his full remarks here.)

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According to a report by the Associated Press on Tuesday, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), the lone Republican defector on the House health care reform bill, admitted that he had suffered some blowback from the bill: two fundraisers have been canceled and several campaign contributors have asked for their money back. Though some GOP leaders like Michael Steele have claimed the GOP will come after any Republican defectors, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) claims that the canceled fundraisers aren't retaliatory and that he is "well aware that Anh Cao is a thoughtful legislator." Meanwhile, a Louisiana Republican Party spokesman claims he knows of no efforts to primary Rep. Cao.

Cao says he doesn't regret the vote--"At the end of the day, I have to represent my district" -- and that he has no intention of deserting the Republican Party.

But I've never been a partisan politician. If you were to listen to me on some of the issues on the Hill, I have addressed my frustration toward partisan politics.

He also tells the AP that he can't support a final bill unless it explicitly bans federal funding of abortions.