TPM News

Something is rotten in the state of Florida?

With the accusations this week that Scott Rothstein, fast-living Fort Lauderdale attorney and friend and donor to Gov. Charlie Crist, orchestrated a massive fraud out of his law firm, there are now three Crist moneymen caught up in alleged criminal or extremely shady activity.

Crist, whose career has been fueled by his skill as a fundraiser, finds himself entangled with the trio of scandals just as his U.S. Senate primary campaign against conservative Marco Rubio is attracting national attention. And there's already talk down in Florida that the Crist-linked scandals may become a factor in the primary contest.

So what's it all about? Let's go to the tape.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL), who some see as a target of the conservative movement that backed Doug Hoffman in NY-23, called the race there "kind of a funky situation."

"I don't know if we can really tell exactly what that race meant. I mean, that was kind of a funky situation, to put it mildly," Crist said today on CNN. "And I think that it'll take a little time to analyze what happened there. But what did it happen there is that, unfortunately, a Democrat won in a district that's been held by a Republican for 140 years."

Conservatives are targeting Crist over his credentials, especially his support of the stimulus. Some are turning to Mark Rubio, Crist's opponent in the Republican primary for a Senate seat in Florida.

Crist is, not surprisingly, distancing himself from the stimulus.

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Democratic candidates for governor in 2010 need to avoided being baited by Republicans on national issues such as health care or climate change, Democratic officials said today in the wake of two big losses in New Jersey and Virginia.

Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, told reporters the 37 races they have on the map next year will be tough. He advised that candidates talk about jobs, the party's ability to govern and local issues.

"Republicans are going to try to use federal issues to box in Democrats and we can't fall for that," he said. "We need to demonstrate our capacity to govern and our capacity to get results."

Daschle said candidates "cannot fall for the trap" of federal issues, saying that if GOP rivals are pushing on health care or climate change they probably don't know about state issues.

TPMDC asked Daschle about candidates getting pushed on health care, especially whether they would "opt-out" of the public option in its current form. It's an issue that hurt Creigh Deeds (D) in Virginia as liberals felt like he was moving too far to the right by saying he would likely opt-out.

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A debate between former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush was canceled, according to the New York Post, after the event's promoter advertised it as "uncensored, unedited and unpredictable."

"This event ... was supposed to be a discussion between the two former presidents, and has been canceled because it was not being billed as such by an overeager promoter," said Matt McKenna, a spokesman for Clinton.

It was never supposed to be a "debate," McKenna said, which is how the promoter described it. The event was to be held at Radio City Music Hall in February -- with tickets going for as much as $1,250 a pop.

In a further sign that yesterday's election results were not a verdict in favor of anti-tax Tea Partyism, two key referenda to limit state taxes and spending went down to serious defeat.

In Maine, where the big news was the state's rejection of gay marriage, voters also resoundingly defeated a "Taxpayers Bill of Rights" (TABOR) referendum, which would have placed spending limits on state and local governments, and required direct voter approval for tax increases. This is the third time in five years that Maine has rejected TABOR proposals. As the Portland Press Herald points out, the loss this year was actually worse than last time -- from an eight-point margin of defeat in 2006, to a 21-point margin this time around.

Another anti-tax vote in Washington state, Initiative 1033, would have similarly capped state and local spending and property taxes, and would have required voter approval for tax increases. It failed by ten points. The Seattle Times said: "Gone are the days when professional initiative guru Tim Eyman dreams up a clever formula for restraining government and voters fall in line. If Eyman can't read newspaper headlines about deep cutbacks in public services -- parks, public safety, education -- voters surely can. They know government is not flush right now and in a painful recession, the public sometimes needs a little help from government."

This afternoon, both senior adviser David Axelrod and press secretary Robert Gibbs maintained that health care reform will be ready to sign by the end of this year -- despite suggestions by the Senate majority leader that the bill won't be ready in time.

"This is going to get to the President's desk before the end of the year," Gibbs said on MSNBC.

Axelrod's comments, made at about the same time on CNN, were more tempered.

"We're still confident we're gonna get this done," Axelrod said. "We want to get it done this year. That is our goal."

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I just spoke to Ned Lamont, the Connecticut businessman and former Greenwich selectman who won the 2006 Democratic primary against Sen. Joe Lieberman, only to lose to the newly-independent Lieberman in the general election, and who has now formed an statewide exploratory committee for a potential run for governor.

My first question to Mr. Lamont: Does he expect to win the endorsement of the state's Junior Senator?

"I, um, I wouldn't expect that," Lamont said, after a brief pause. "But I certainly reached out to Sen. Lieberman today, if he wants to hear why I'm doing this, and why I think it's important."

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November 4, 2009: A rally in Tehran marks the 30th anniversary of the storming of the U.S. embassy, and its subsequent 444-day occupation. Some dissenters used the occasion to renew protests against the presidential elections held earlier this year, even clashing with police after the Revolutionary Guard threatened to crack down on such protests. But many were demonstrating against the U.S. and Israel.

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Protesters hold a poster of U.S. President Barack Obama.

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A demonstrator holds an effigy of one of the American hostage held in the Embassy 30 years ago.

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American stars and stripes fill in the outline of a gun.

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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has been actively seeking seeking the endorsement of none other than Sarah Palin in his race for Senate, the Washington Post reports, a sharp turnaround from prior image as a moderate and even his own open criticism of Palin herself.

In a memo, Kirk wrote that he was hoping for Palin to support his candidacy when she comes to Chicago to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show, saying that "the Chicago media will focus on one key issue: Does Gov[ernor] Palin oppose Congressman Mark Kirk's bid to take the Obama Senate seat for the Republicans?"

Kirk has formerly had a reputation as a moderate Republican able to win in Democratic areas, such as his own district that voted for Barack Obama by 61%-38%. And in October of 2008, he openly declared of Palin, "I would have picked someone different."

But the pressure of seeking the Republican statewide nomination, with a primary electorate that has become increasingly right-wing, sure has him looking for the Palin stamp of approval.

The AARP is planning a major announcement on health care tomorrow, an official told TPMDC tonight. But the group won't confirm today's AP story that AARP is ready to endorse the health care reform bill presented by House Democrats this week.

AARP's announcement will come at a press conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the group's D.C. headquarters, the official said. Should it be the subject of the briefing, an AARP endorsement of the House bill would be a big victory for supporters of the Democratic reform package. AARP is second to none when it comes to influence on policies related to seniors, and the backing would give the bill a stamp of approval from one of the most powerful non-partisan groups in the country.

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