TPM News

In the midst of Sunday's heated Florida Republican Senate primary debate on Fox News Sunday, moderator Chris Wallace asked Marco Rubio a question that surprised many viewers up early on a Sunday to watch the festivities.

Wallace read Rubio a viewer email. "'Ask Marco Rubio why he refuses to be vetted by the Florida Tea Parties. I want to hear from Rubio or I will not vote for him,'" Wallace said. "We got this from a bunch of Tea Parties all over the state."

Behind the question is an interesting discovery: Despite carrying the torch for insurgent conservatives everywhere, Rubio actually has a problem connecting with the tea parties in his home state, according to several tea partiers I spoke with yesterday. Tea partiers aren't sold on him yet, and they're worried he's abandoning them now that he's winning.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is continuing to warn that senior citizens are in danger from "death panels" under President Obama's new health care legislation, predicting that seniors could lose their lives -- and their money, too.

Bachmann visited Duluth over the weekend, a city that is located in the district of Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN). Fittingly enough, the local Republicans put their speaker's podium in the middle of a boxing ring, and Bachmann was putting up her rhetorical dukes.

"Senior citizens have followed this issue more than anyone," said Bachmann. "Senior citizens are very smart. And they have been absolutely opposed to ObamaCare going forward, because senior citizens are the ones whose lives literally are on the line with ObamaCare."

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A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio shows that in the run-up to the May 4 Democratic primary for Senate, the big leader in the race is..."undecided," with this race way up in the air.

Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has 33% support, while Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has 26%. Another one percent answered "someone else," and 40% are undecided. Furthermore, among those respondents who did express a choice, only 31% said their minds are made up, and 65% could change their minds.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Rob Portman, a former Congressman and Bush administration official. The Dem primary poll does give Fisher a possible leg-up in this regard: 37% think he is the one more likely to win a general election, compared to only 18% who say the same about Brunner.

President Obama said on the "Today" show this morning that the tea party movement isn't cohesive, and said some fringe members of the movement still question whether he is a U.S. citizen and if he is a socialist.

"It is a still loose amalgam of forces," Obama told NBC's Matt Lauer. He said he didn't want to paint the group "in broad brushes" and wants to speak to those tea partiers with "mainstream, legitimate concerns."

Obama said it's possible that with a new focus on deficit reduction some in the relatively new tea party movement might end up agreeing with his administration's actions. But not everyone will be swayed on fiscal responsibility, he said.

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The Republican National Committee announced last night that it has fired an unnamed staffer involved in an RNC-funded excursion to Voyeur West Hollywood, a bondage-themed nightclub that often features topless dancers. The RNC did not release the staffer's name, nor did it say exactly how Erik Brown, a California Republican operative who was reimbursed for the $2,000 bill, was involved.

In the statement, spokesman Doug Heye said the RNC has dealt with the incident: "First, as reported, the expenditure in question will be recouped by the RNC. Second, appropriate personnel actions have been taken and accounting and reimbursement processes are being revised to ensure that such an action cannot reoccur."

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A new USA Today/Gallup poll out this morning shows that more Americans blame the Democrats more than any other group when it comes to the inciting the violence and vandalism that have spread across the country in the week since health care reform became law. Fifty percent said passing the bill was a "bad thing," while 47% said it was a good thing.*

When asked about the violence, 49% of the 1,009 adults surveyed over the weekend said the "Democratic tactics" are a "major reason" for the violent incidents. Forty-six percent said conservative media was responsible, and 43% blamed the attacks on the rhetoric of Republican political leaders.

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Sarkozy Lays Into The U.S. On Health Care Debate In a speech at Columbia University, French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke about the recent American debates on health care -- sharply criticizing Americans for a lack of compassion on the issue. "Welcome to the club of states who don't turn their back on the sick and the poor," said Sarkozy. He also added: "When we look at the American debate on reforming health care, it's difficult to believe. The very fact that there should have been such a violent debate simply on the fact that the poorest of Americans should not be left out in the streets without a cent to look after them ... is something astonishing to us."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET. Obama will sign the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, at 11:05 a.m. ET, at Northern Virginia Community College. Obama will meet with senior advisers at 12 p.m. ET. He will have lunch with Vice President Biden at 12:20 p.m. ET. Obama and Biden will meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at 2:45 p.m. ET, and with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at 3:30 p.m. ET. Obama and Sarkozy will hold a joint press availability at 4:45 p.m. ET. The President and First Lady will host a dinner for President Sarkozy and French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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On The Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart addressed the recent threats made against Democrats following the passage of health care reform, including a bag of suspicious white powder sent to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

Stewart had a confession to make: "That white powder that was sent to his office was merely a lot of cocaine that I had shipped to him, per his request, so that he could sell it. Or use it to get prostitutes."

He also knocked a Fox News Contributor who compared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's walk through a crowd of tea party protesters to Nazis who provocatively marched through an Illinois town: "Who does she think she is, walking to work?"

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