TPM News

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) had a zinger of a joke today kicking off his speech at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, needling the Republican National Committee's recent woes involving a staffer spending at a bondage-themed nightclub in Los Angeles.

A "word of warning for RNC staffers" in the audience at the premiere conservative event, Jindal said: "You may want to stay away from Bourbon Street."

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Mediocre, meteoric -- what's the difference?

Will Mills, president and CEO of the New Life Network Foundation, got a little tripped up on that when introducing Sarah Palin at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this afternoon.

She is one of the most compelling figures in modern American politics. Following her mediocre rise from the relative tranquility of America's final frontier to the forefront of the national discussion during the 2008 presidential election, she is quite frankly nothing short of a marvel.

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Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) has reportedly called upon Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to resign.

Roll Call reports that Brown-Waite told this to Steele in a letter this week, in the wake of a scandal over party funds being spent at a bondage-themed nightclub. Brown-Waite has become the first sitting member of Congress to tell Steele to resign.

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In a "The Word" segment last night, Stephen Colbert explained why the Republican National Committee can't fire chairman Michael Steele.

"When Barack Obama was inaugurated back in 2009, it seemed the Democrats had a monopoly on groundbreaking achievements. They elected the first African-American president and the first gaffe-rican-American vice president," he said. "That's why I was so proud when, just 10 days later, the Republican National Committee elected Michael Steele its chairman. The Republicans had finally reached the mountaintop, of having their own black guy."

"The Republicans hired this strong, competent leader, not because he's black. But now they can't fire this weak, incompetent leader, because he's black," he said. "They are trapped!"

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Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee tasked with hearings for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, today offered a strong hint about the direction Republicans may take toward the president's choice.

Sessions (R-AL) used his statement to criticize Obama's "empathy" standard for selecting Sonia Sotomayor last year for the high court.

But one sentence especially stood out: "There is much at stake, as the court's interpretation of the Constitution in the coming years could significantly affect the implementation of domestic polices approved by the president and Congress over the past year."

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A former official with a dry cleaning corporation seeking to curry favor with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) says he was reimbursed for a $4,800 contribution to the senator, which if true is a violation of federal campaign finance law, the Times-Picayune reports.

Vitter's office told the paper that "he believes that if the company violated campaign finance laws they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

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Speaking yesterday at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) continued to talk up his proposed strategy to stop President Obama's health care policies: Win a Republican majority in Congress, and then shut down the government.

"Stage one of the end of Obamaism will be a new Republican Congress in January that simply refuses to fund any of the radical efforts," said Gingrich. "Now I say this because our friends in the news media said, you know it's realistic to talk about 'repeal and replace,' because after all he's gonna be president for the next three years and he'll veto a repeal bill. And I think they forgot that once upon a time, that I used to be Speaker of the House, and I actually understand the legislative process."

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President Obama this afternoon commended retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens for being an "impartial guardian of the law" and said he will move "quickly" to name a nominee to fill his position on the high court.

Speaking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said selecting Supreme Ccourt nominees are "among my most serious responsibilities as president." He said he will seek a nominee "in the coming weeks" with "similar qualities" to Stevens.

Obama said he spoke with Stevens this afternoon to thank him for his service, adding that at 89, the justice "leaves his position at the top of his game." The president told reporters that when President Ford nominated Stevens he sought someone who was not ideological, pragmatic and "committed above all to justice, integrity and the rule of law," and said he agrees that's the right approach.

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President Obama moved swiftly last year in nominating Sonia Sotomayor for a vacancy on the court in less than a month, and Democrats are pushing for him to operate on the same time line now that he'll be filling Justice John Paul Stevens' seat.

White House aides last year said Obama, who learned of the retirement this morning on a flight back from Prague, would definitely consider others from his 2009 short list should there be another vacancy. When the White House wrote a new policy releasing names of visitors for the first time, the administration carved out an exception to allow potential nominees to slip by. Aides at the time specifically cited the Supreme Court nomination process as why they would allow for the exception to the new transparency policy.

Justice David Souter announced his retirement May 1, 2009 and Obama nominated Sotomayor May 26. The confirmation fight played out over the summer, with a final vote Aug. 6, and she was seated with plenty of time to help get settled and to participate in the choosing of the court's fall caseload. Congressional sources told me they'd like to see Stevens and the White House operate on the same time frame. One way for him to do that would be looking at his list from last year.

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