TPM News

Mitt Romney has consistently cleaned house in early polls of the New Hampshire Republican primary. Now, a new poll by Dartmouth College shows him handily winning The Granite State in a general election matchup with President Obama.

In the poll of registered voters, Romney beat Obama 47% to 39%. However, Obama easily led all other comers by between eight and 27 points.

Obama led Mike Huckabee 45%-37%, and topped Ron Paul 47% to 27%. Obama also beat Haley Barbour (42%-23%), Tim Pawlenty (41%-25%), Donald Trump (51%-29%), and Sarah Palin (54%-27%.)

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Evangelist and Rev. Franklin Graham -- son of legendary evangelist and Rev. Billy Graham -- has listened to Donald Trump talk about his maybe-candidacy for president. And Graham likes what he hears.

"Donald Trump, when I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, well, this has got to be a joke," Graham told Christiane Amanpour in an interview set to air Sunday. "But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, maybe this guy's right."

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The House GOP's far-reaching budget, which includes $6 trillion in cuts and a plan to replace Medicare with a private voucher system, has drawn its first Republican opponent in the Senate: Susan Collins.

The Maine lawmaker, generally considered among of the most moderate Republicans in Congress, told local TV station, WCSH 6, on Friday that she would vote against the proposed budget.

"I don't happen to support Congressman Ryan's plan but at least he had the courage to put forward a plan to significantly reduce the debt," Collins said.

She did not specify which portions of the bill she opposed. On the House side, four Republicans voted against the budget resolution, with two citing its Medicare overhaul as their chief concern.

The U.S. State Department signed off on and supports Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) Friday trip to Libya where he met with rebel forces engaged in a fierce battle with Muammar Qaddafi over control of the country.

"We were aware that Sen. McCain would be making the trip and State supported the codel," White House spokesman Jay Carney told TPM in an e-mail Friday afternoon.

When asked whether McCain was there as an official emissary for the State Department or White House, Carney told reporters earlier only: "No. No that I'm aware of."

An early proponent of U.S. military strikes in Libya, McCain arrived in the country Friday just hours before Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's joint chiefs of staff, publicly warned that the conflict was moving into a stalemate as Qaddafi's troops pressed on in an attempt to take back the rebel-controlled areas in Misrata.

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Scandal-scarred Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) may have hoped resigning would keep quiet unsavory details and new charges surrounding his affair with a top staffer's wife, but he's not off the hook yet.

The Senate Ethics Committee issued a rare statement Friday signaling it would continue its investigation of Ensign's affair and steps he took to keep it quiet despite having formally resigned his Senate seat. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the top Democrat and Republican on the panel respectively, said his resignation is "appropriate" and indicated they would wrap up work on the probe as soon as possible.

"The Senate Ethics Committee has worked diligently for nearly 22 months on this matter and will complete its work in a timely fashion," they said in the statement.

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Minnesota state House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R), who is strongly pushing for passage of a voter ID law, has now backed away from comments he made in a radio√ā¬†appearance on Wednesday -- when he said of the act of voting: "I think it's a privilege, it's not a right."

"When you go to even a Burger King or a McDonald's and use your debit card, they'll ask you to see your ID," Zellers said during a late-night interview, the Star Tribune reports. "Should we have to do that when we vote, something that is one of the most sacred -- I think it's a privilege, it's not a right. Everybody doesn't get it, because if you go to jail or if you commit some heinous crime your rights are taken away. This is a privilege."

In fact, voting is referred to as being a right in numerous amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The next day, Zellers walked back the comment. "I fully understand it's a right we all have," Zellers said on Thursday. "I probably should have said it a little bit better at that late hour at night."

According to the Star Tribune, the comment occurred some time after 11 p.m.

It's Earth Day, which means government agencies are shooting off press releases touting their efforts to conserve energy through various green initiatives. But sorry, other government flacks -- the Central Intelligence Agency's method of reducing its carbon footprint takes the cake.

Turns out the CIA saves energy by shredding and burning classified documents.

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Medical providers will soon inform 9/11 first responders about a provision in the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation law that requires them to be run through the FBI's terrorism watch list before they can receive health care benefits.

According to a letter obtained by Michael McAuliff of the Huffington Post, Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is instructing health care providers to tell their patients about the provision before they can begin to receive benefits in July.

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