TPM News

The White House last week declared a new focus on the threat of homegrown terrorism, warning that "several recent incidences of violent extremists in the United States who are committed to fighting here and abroad have underscored the threat to the United States and our interests posed by individuals radicalized at home."

That language is from the Obama Administration's new National Security Strategy, a [document]( (.pdf) that comes out every few years (the last was in 2006) and serves as a broad statement of policy. The document continues: "Our best defenses against this threat are well informed and equipped families, local communities, and institutions."

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U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, has apologized for misstating the name of an award he received while in the Navy, but there are other instances in the past few years wherein Kirk has embellished or fudged his service record, while stopping short of outright lying about it. In each instance, Kirk's statements have served to cast his record and his proximity to danger in a more, rather than less, heroic light: fostering the impression that he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and claiming he did a tour of duty in Afghanistan, when both are misleading.

Some of Kirk's exaggerations were first documented in 2005 on the blog Nitpicker by an Afghanistan vet, and liberal, named Terry Welch. It was Welch who found the claim on Kirk's congressional website that Kirk was "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." For a larger view click on this link to an archive of Kirk's site, or on this screengrab, which Welch saved in 2005:

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House Republicans are returning to their promise of repealing the Democrats' health care reform law with a retread of their own alternative plan that a Congressional Budget Office analysis last year determined would provide coverage for next to no one. Just in time for the midterm elections, the Republicans introduced legislation to scrap "Obama care" -- even parts that voters like -- and sub in their own version.

As a refresher, their plan would let people buy insurance across state lines, give states more power and would include tort reform to end so-called "junk lawsuits" that the Republicans say make health care costs more expensive. The CBO score last fall found the GOP plan would cover just 3 million more people "leaving about 52 million" without insurance at about the same as the 2009 share of uninsured people. It would reduce premiums by between zero and three percent, CBO said. To hear the Republicans tell it, the measure would decrease premiums by "up to 20 percent." It reduces the deficit over time, but so does the Democrats' law.

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Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper are separating after four decades of marriage. They just celebrated their 40th anniversary two weeks ago.

The Gores called the separation "a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together."

The news was first reported by Politico and confirmed by a Gore spokeswoman.

The couple made the announcement in an "Email from Al and Tipper Gore."

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Senate candidate Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today is going live with his first television ads of the election, following a rough few weeks of press from exaggerating his military record on several occasions. The three soft, 30-second spots focus on Connecticut residents Blumenthal has helped over his career and attempt to exploit a new poll showing he outranks his rival Linda McMahon (R-CT) on measures of "character," a campaign source said.

TPMDC obtained the new ads from a campaign source today. They show a family Blumenthal helped get insurance coverage, and a man with Leukemia who Blumenthal helped receive a needed operation. The ad below features an Ellington, Connecticut resident who had her home destroyed in a fire. Blumenthal's office helped her negotiate with her insurance company and a firm helping remove the debris of her home.

The tag line is "For Connecticut. First. Last. Always." The ads will rotate on Nutmeg State television. The TPM Poll Average of this race has Blumenthal leading McMahon 52.2 percent-37.7 percent.

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The politically powerful union SEIU has a new ad attacking Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the June 8 Arkansas Democratic primary runoff, going after Lincoln's vote for the TARP bailout.

"Blanche Lincoln claims she's standing firm against Wall Street. But Lincoln voted to use our tax dollars to bail out Wall Street banks," the announcer says. This is a clear effort to discredit Lincoln's current work on financial reform, and to leverage the TARP issue that already helped to unseat Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) at his state GOP convention.

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Lt. Gov. Bill Halter a lead of 47.3%-44.7%.

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President Obama said in the Rose Garden this afternoon that the Gulf Coast oil spill is "the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history" -- and offered assurances that his administration will enact the necessary reforms to make sure nothing like it happens again.

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Americans don't know what to think about the way President Obama is handling the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico according to a new national poll released by Quinnipiac University today. The poll, conducted last week, confirms a trend that shows the public is increasingly wary of the White House's response to the still-spewing deep water oil spill.

The new Q poll shows 39% of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the Gulf crisis, while 42% disapprove. The poll was conducted May 19-24 and has a margin of error of 2.2%

The TPM Poll Average of Obama's handling of the spill shows 39.2% approve while 55.2% disapprove. The trend line shows that as the spill has continued, public support for Obama's handling of it has dipped.

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