TPM News

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is set to throw her hat in the presidential ring in Iowa this morning. In the hours before she does, she's engaged in a tussle with Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace that's riled up her base and made Fox do something it rarely does: apologize.

Perhaps mindful of the buzz the story is giving her campaign, Bachmann refused to accept the apology in her first television interview about the controversy. That puts Fox in a new and different position: battling with one of conservatism's brightest stars.

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Monday is a big day for the presidential race, with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) set to officially launch her presidential campaign in Waterloo, Iowa, the town where she was born, at 9 a.m. CT -- well, launching her campaign after she had already participated in a debate, announced her candidacy at that debate, and was also welcomed at a rally in Waterloo Sunday evening, addressing more than 700 people.

Bachmann now enters the race in a position that much of conventional wisdom would not have expected: As a top-tier candidate, running in a dead heat with Mitt Romney in the latest Iowa polling.

Before she launched her campaign, Bachmann had been saying that she would announce her 2012 decision in Waterloo. Instead came the announcement during the debate two weeks ago, followed that night by a pre-recorded video announcement on YouTube. With that said, she's now making it up with Monday's kickoff in Waterloo -- on top of Sunday night's "Welcome Back to Waterloo" event that was advertised on local radio Friday.

Bachmann has already been making a splash in the race, attacking frontrunner Mitt Romney on abortion, and possibly already starting to emerge as a major threat to him -- especially if Sarah Palin does not run. (And of course, she has also had some of her signature blatant errors of fact of history.) So a key thing to look out for is how this national Tea Party movement star pitches her candidacy today -- as a positive, favorite daughter of Iowa, or a fire-breathing conservative activists, or perhaps all at once.

On the heels of the $20 million economic-themed ad blitz by Karl Rove's political money machine this week, Democrats are taking to the air with their own attack ad campaign targeting Republicans over the budget.

The six-figure campaign by House Majority PAC, a Super PAC which can take in unlimited amounts from donors thanks to the Citizens United ruling, launches Monday with ads taking on eight Republican members of Congress across the country.

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Imagine the following: President Obama and Speaker John Boehner emerge next week after a series of tense, closed-door meetings to announce a historic deal that cuts the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade -- more than anyone thought possible. Additional goodies are thrown in that Republicans have been clamoring for as well: an enforceable cap on spending and a vote (symbolic, of course) on a balanced budget amendment. The breakthrough? Republicans agreed to raise $1 trillion in new revenue, mostly through closing various tax loopholes and credits but also by allowing the absolute highest end of the Bush tax cuts -- those affecting millionaires only -- to expire next year.

But that's not good enough for the Tea Party movement, whose leaders say the GOP sold them out. Activists cry bloody murder. Primaries are threatened. Michele Bachmann stages a sit-in. A week of protests are quickly organized outside the Capitol.

But then a funny thing happens...nothing. A large number of Freshman Republicans vote against the bill in protest, but it passes with near unanimous Democratic support. There's considerable grumbling in the press until the next week, when Obama proposes something conservatives hate, perhaps a new executive order slowing deportations, and the base rallies to stop him. Polls show conservative Republicans as unified as ever as another round of dismal economic news puts the White House within reach, and soon everyone is too focused on 2012 to care about the last fight. In such a scenario, can the Tea Party remain a credible force?

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The Ohio state Senate was set to consider this week what critics are calling the most restrictive voter identification law in the country. The push for restrictive voter ID measures in the Buckeye state is part of a trend of similar legislation sweeping Republican-controlled legislatures across the country.

But Ohio's measure is so restrictive -- it requires the photo IDs to be issued by the state, so voters couldn't identify themselves with their full Social Security numbers -- that it lost the support of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted.

"I want to be perfectly clear, when I began working with the General Assembly to improve Ohio's elections system it was never my intent to reject valid votes," Husted said in a short statement posted on his official website.

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If Mitt Romney was making a movie about the Great Depression, he'd try to cast President Obama as Herbert Hoover.

He more than other Republican candidates has made the flagging economy a central theme of his presidential campaign, and feels no compunction about blaming Obama for the mess.

The Romney camp has taken to tying Obama to the nation's high long-term unemployment rate -- and to saying that long-term unemployment is now worse than it was during the Great Depression. Indeed, a recent fundraising email, Romney claimed long-term unemployment is now the "worst in recorded history." 

There's one big problem with this: It's not true.

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New details are emerging in this weekend's story that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser -- a member of the court's 4-3 conservative majority who was just re-elected to a ten-year term in a heated race that involved a recount and vote-tabulating controversies -- allegedly attacked liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument over the court's recent decision regarding the upholding of Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation. Now, Bradley is speaking up, and saying publicly that she was assaulted by Prosser.

"The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold," Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Meanwhile, an unnamed source who is on Prosser's side of the argument accused Bradley of initiating the violence. "She charged him with fists raised," the source told the paper, saying that Prosser "put his hands in a defensive posture" to block her, and made contact with her neck. Bradley is then said to have immediately complained of being choked, while another, unnamed Justice responded, "You were not choked."

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Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, a member of the court's 4-3 conservative majority who was just re-elected to a ten-year term in a heated race that involved a recount and vote-tabulating controversies, is now reportedly being accused of physically assaulting liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in an argument over the court's recent decision regarding the upholding of Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report:

Details of the incident, investigated jointly by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, remain sketchy. The sources spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing a need to preserve professional relationships.

They say an argument that occurred before the court's release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

Justice Prosser, contacted Friday afternoon by the Center, declined to comment: "I have nothing to say about it." He repeated this statement after the particulars of the story -- including the allegation that there was physical contact between him and Bradley -- were described. He did not confirm or deny any part of the reconstructed account.

Bradley also declined to comment, telling WPR, "I have nothing to say."

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