TPM News

President Obama released a web video on Thursday encouraging the 46 million Americans who smoke to kick the habit. The video marks the Great American Smokeout, the day designated by the American Cancer Society to encourage people to quit.

A former smoker, Obama’s October medical report confirmed that he’d quit. “The fact is, quitting smoking is hard,” he says in the video. “Believe me, I know.”

Obama uses the video to tout the recently signed Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. “[The law] gives us new tools to keep cigarettes out of the hands of our kids,” he says.

Part of the law calls for stricter warning labels on cigarettes. “Today, some big tobacco companies are trying to block these labels because they don’t want to be honest about the consequences of using their products,” says Obama, referencing recent lawsuits from tobacco companies to weaken the FDA’s ability to enforce graphic warning labels.

“We’ve always known that the fight to stop smoking in this country won’t be easy,” Obama says. “But…together we can help Americans everywhere to live longer, happier and healthier lives.”

Herman Cain has a new response to the media fallout over his bungled answer about his Libya policy.

Susan Archer of ABC News reports that Cain declared at a campaign event in Nashua, New Hampshire: "We need a leader, not a reader."

Corroborating the reports that this is something Cain...actually...said, Steve Peoples of the Associated Press also reports Cain saying that knowing every detail is not important: "We need a leader, not a reader."

So it turns out that Ronald Reagan isn't Cain's only political role model -- his other is the fictionalized "President Schwarzenegger" from The Simpsons Movie!

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Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Thursday testified in front of a House committee investigating the Energy Department's $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, the bankrupt solar company that Republicans have attempted to make into a pariah of the Obama Administration's green energy ambitions.

But even before Chu had a chance to take the oath, let alone begin testifying, it was abundantly clear the hearing would be highly contentious and partisan, as Republican and Democratic lawmakers used their opening remarks to attack each other over the handling of the Solyndra investigation.

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President Barack Obama is threatening to veto the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 over "unnecessary, untested, and legally controversial" restrictions imposed by Congress which would mandate certain terrorism suspects go into military custody.

"The Administration objects to and has serious legal and policy concerns about many of the detainee provisions in the bill," the White House said in a statement. "In their current form, some of these provisions disrupt the Executive branch's ability to enforce the law and impose unwise and unwarranted restrictions on the U.S. Government's ability to aggressively combat international terrorism; other provisions inject legal uncertainty and ambiguity that may only complicate the military's operations and detention practices."

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On a trip to northern Australia earlier today, President Obama was given free crocodile insurance.

“I was just presented with the most unique gift I have ever received as president — crocodile insurance,” Obama told about 2,000 troops in Darwin. “My wife, Michelle, will be relieved.”

Australia’s north is home to some of largest and most dangerous crocodiles in the world. Fortunately for President Obama, he was unscathed when he left the country earlier today.

In the event of a presidential croc attack, the insurance would have paid A$50,000 to the First Lady.

With just six days left until the Super Committee deadline, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) acknowledged Thursday that the panel is unlikely to agree on the sort of broad deficit-cutting bargain she and other Democratic leaders have pushed for. And she made a strong case that the GOP's allergy to taxes is the reason her expectations have diminished.

Specifically, she responded to Republican Super Committee co-chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) who on Wednesday said Democrats would have to agree to dramatic steps -- such as partially privatizing Medicare -- before Republicans would agree to substantial new tax revenues.

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Rick Santorum, the Republican candidate who is perhaps the most severe in his conservatism, is doing something that might surprise people: Cutting some slack to the Occupy Wall Street movement on the issues of the bailouts and economic inequality.

Speaking to the Iowa State Association of Counties, Santorum said that Republicans "ignore some realities at times," CNN reports.

"The bottom line is if it you look at this economy, if you are white collar worker, if you have a college degree, the unemployment rate in America for college educated people is 4.4%," he said. "The unemployment rate for everybody else is over 10%."

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Rick Perry says President Obama, the son of a teen mother who frequently was absent from his life and often was stretched financially, grew up the easy way. It's the latest in a series of winks at conspiracy-minded conservatives deeply suspicious about the president's background.

Perry's comments came as he discussed his new ad attacking Obama for saying US policymakers have grown "lazy" about honing America's competitive edge, a comment that Republicans have inaccurately suggested was aimed at American workers. Asked by FOX News host Sean Hannity about the spot, Perry launched into a highly personal attack on Obama.

"It reveals to me that he grew up in a privileged way," he said. "He never had to really work for anything."

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Herman Cain's damage control strategy with the media might just be causing more damage for him in the key first primary state of New Hampshire, with the campaign blowing off a scheduled interview with the state's largest paper, the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader.

Union Leader editorial page editor Drew Cline tweeted late Thursday morning that Cain was late for a 10 a.m. interview, followed by this heckle: "If Cain is more than 30 minutes late for our interview, is our next one free? #fitn"

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In an extensive interview with the Des Moines Register's editorial board, Michele Bachmann defended the practice of waterboarding. But would she herself ever get waterboarded, so that she could more knowledgeably speak about it? Don't be absurd.

During her defense of the practice, Bachmann disagreed with the questioner's premise that waterboarding is torture: "It was called an enhanced interrogation technique that was used to bring about information." She did concede, though, that it is "uncomfortable."

"If I had knowledge that we could use something like a waterboarding to be able to save the American people, would I use that?" Bachmann asked rhetorically. "Yes I would, because waterboarding does not kill anyone. Is it uncomfortable? Yet, it's uncomfortable, but I am more concerned that we would prevent aircraft from going into the Twin Towers, taking them down, and taking out 3,000 innocent American lives, than I am about the comfort level of a terrorist, and what that means for them.

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