TPM News

Republicans said it would be bad news for the otherwise-safe Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) if former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi decided to run against her. So far, they seem to be right, and more so than observers expected.

Yesterday, his campaign announced Rossi raised over $600,000 in his first week as a candidate -- a third of it from grassroots supporters online. He's signed 2,500 people to his campaign list in the first week, and attracted 20,000 followers to his Facebook page (which his campaign says is the "third most of any US Senate candidate and nearly twice that of Senator Murray.")

Republicans in Washington, it seems, are happy to see Rossi after all.

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Monday's raid by Israeli naval commandos on a ship bearing medical, construction, and other supplies for the Gaza Strip resulted in the deaths of at least nine civilians. Many aspects of the episode -- the blockade, the run-up to the confrontation, the law governing international waters, etc. -- are being fiercely contested. But what about what actually happened when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara?

The Gaza-bound boat was 80 miles from the Israeli coast with nearly 600 passengers on board when Israel soldiers from the naval special forces unit [Shayetet 13]( boarded the vessel in the dark early Monday morning.

The basic competing narratives are: the passengers mobbed the soldiers with crude but effective weapons, prompting the soldiers to fire bullets in self defense vs. the soldiers fired live weapons indiscriminately, starting from the helicopter above before they even boarded the ship.

But let's take a closer look at the various written and video accounts.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL), who left the Republican Party to run for Senate as an independent, announced today that he has a new media consultant -- one with a long history of working for Democrats, and for Joe Lieberman and Mike Bloomberg, too.

Crist's campaign has signed up the firm of SKD Knickerbocker, with co-founder Josh Isay becoming Crist's lead media consultant. From the Crist campaign's press release: "SKD Knickerbocker is one of the nation's leading political consulting firms. Clients have included Democratic Senators, Governors and Mayors from across the country. The firm is also a leader in electing Independent candidates including Senator Joe Lieberman and NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg. SKD Knickerbocker has worked on the campaigns of the last 4 Democratic Presidential nominees."

Roll Call points out that Isay is also a former chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and the St. Petersburg Times lists other clients including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

Last night, South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts (R) called Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley a "f------ raghead," and bizarrely suggested that she's some kind of Sikh Manchurian candidate.

Corey Hutchins, a reporter for Free Times, the alt weekly in Columbia, South Carolina, has a great piece today about his interview with Knotts, which came after the state senator said during an internet radio show last night that Haley is a "raghead."

I spoke to Hutchins this afternoon, and he shared some more details on last night's event.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Adm. Thad Allen, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Adm. Thad Allen, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).

• Fox News Sunday: Adm. Thad Allen, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Will not air, due to coverage of the French Open.

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told Main Justice in an interview yesterday that he's looking for donations to cover his extensive legal bills -- and that he still hasn't found a book publisher.

"We need to do a better effort raising additional money, and so we're going to try to do that as soon as the last investigation [ends]," the ex-attorney general said. "That investigation has been out there going on forever. I'm not sure what's going on there, but we're waiting for that to be completed."

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the Arkansas Senate Democratic primary runoff gives Lt. Gov. Bill Halter a four-point lead over incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, heading into the big showdown this Tuesday, June 8.

The numbers: Halter 49%, Lincoln 45%. The poll of likely Dem primary voters has a ±4% margin of error. The TPM Poll Average gives Halter a lead of 49.7%-44.9%. However, there is a huge caveat: Research 2000 has been the only pollster to publicly release numbers on this race during the runoff period, so we are dependent on only one source of data.

Daily Kos's Jed Lewison writes: "With the run-off coming up this Tuesday (June 8) and voting preferences pretty much settled, it seems like the biggest question is whether Halter or Lincoln will have a better turnout operation. Much of that depends on the enthusiasm of each candidate's supporters, and if Joe Sestak's campaign in Pennsylvania is any indication, Bill Halter is in pretty good shape -- as long as his supporters demonstrate their enthusiasm at the ballot box."

Senate hopeful Mark Kirk has gone the full Blumenthal and apologized for misrepresenting his military record.

"I simply misremembered it wrong," Kirk said in a long sit-down interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. "I want to be very contrite and say that there was a casualness with which I sometimes describe military details and if it gave the impression that my military record was larger than it was, I apologize."

Kirk took responsibility for various misstatements--both spoken and written--all of which either overstated his role or were outright false. In particular he apologized for claiming to have been named Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year when in fact he was not. Previously Kirk had acknowledged several errors but has only in the last day officially apologized for them. You can watch the entire interview below.

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