TPM News

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), in his ongoing descent from elder statesmen to Tea Party darling, threw out some red-meat conservative rhetoric dissing France in a speech on the budget talks on the Senate floor Wednesday.

The choice is quite stark, in Hatch's view. Americans, he said, need to decide whether we want to become Europe with a "cradle-to-grave" entitlement system that will slow down economic growth or do we want to "remain America, a beacon of freedom for the world."

To drive his point home, Hatch ratcheted up the rhetoric another notch.

"[My constituents] do not wake up in the morn and say America would be much better if we we're more like France. ..."

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The anti-abortion activist group LiveAction has teamed up with the conservative women's group the Susan B. Anthony List for a bus tour in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. In response, Planned Parenthood has launched its own "truth tour" in support of women's rights.

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Maine Republicans aren't so keen on nominating Sen Olympia Snowe (R) for another reelection bid. But if Snowe does get dumped by her own party in a primary election, a PPP poll of registered voters shows that she could still cruise to reelection should she run as an Independent.

Earlier this week, PPP released a poll showing that only one quarter of Republicans in Snowe's home state think she should be considered a Republican, while a third said she was better described as a Democrat. Further, almost six in ten said they would probably vote for a more conservative candidate should one challenge Snowe in a primary.

Yet as the new release shows, Snowe garners plenty of support from Democratic voters, and could return to the Senate even if her own party dumps her in a primary next year.

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Late Update: The bill was defeated in committee Wednesday.

Don't pop the champagne yet, birthers. Yes, New Hampshire Republicans have proposed legislation that would require presidential candidates competing in the New Hampshire primary to provide their long-form birth certificates. But because you've comported yourselves so poorly over the last two years, it won't impact President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.

Thanks to public scrutiny and criticism of the birther movement -- including from within the Republican Party -- the plan has been rewritten and would not go into effect until 2013, to avoid the impression that it's designed to ensnare President Obama.

As originally written, the bill "had the effective date 60 days after passage," Rep. David Bates (R) told the Union Leader. "But we recognize the potential problems. It created the appearance that it was all centered on a putting barriers in the way of President Obama," Bates said.

Bates said he changed the wording "to diffuse any perception that this was directed at President Obama."

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Tras Gustav Karlsson Berg, a 35-year-old California resident, has been arrested by federal authorities and charged with threatening an as yet unnamed U.S. senator from California for an e-mail he allegedly sent last month in opposition to taking wolves off the Endangered Species List.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who earned accolades for his tough talk about taking on public employee unions, appears to have lost some support from his constituents after releasing a new budget that does just that.

According to a recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll, registered voters in New Jersey now have a much less favorable view of Christie than they did just a few months ago, with the poll coming shortly after the governor delivered his budget address two weeks ago. In that address, Christie, like other Republican governors nationwide, criticized public employee unions for having "rich benefits," and said he would go after those benefits as a way to balance the budget.

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One of the suspended attorneys in the middle of a brewing showdown between Republicans and Democrats on the House Ethics Committee is looking to jump ship and get out of the messy ethics battle altogether.

Morgan Kim, who served as deputy chief of staff of the panel in the last Congress and lead attorney on the case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), has applied for the job of Broward County inspector general, according to a list of applicants compiled by the Sun-Sentinel.

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is in the early stages of a presidential campaign, spoke in an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network about his history of adultery and divorces. And as Gingrich told it, he sought God's forgiveness -- and as for the events themselves, they were driven by how hard he was working and his great passion for America.

"There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate," said Gingrich. "And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn't trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them.

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Already forced to resign from NPR over his remarks in a hidden camera prank by James O'Keefe, former NPR Foundation president Ron Schiller took another tough hit to his career on Wednesday, losing his next job as well.

Schiller was already set to leave NPR for a position with the Aspen Institute before the scandal broke out, but the Aspen Institute announced today that the departing NPR exec will be jumping ship without a life raft.

"Ron Schiller has informed us that, in light of the controversy surrounding his recent statements, he does not feel that it's in the best interests of the Aspen Institute for him to come work here," a statement from the nonprofit read.

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