TPM News

The White House Press Office released a statement today on President Obama's visit with the Dalai Lama. Here's the full text:

"The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People's Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach, his commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government. The President stressed that he has consistently encouraged both sides to engage in direct dialogue to resolve differences and was pleased to hear about the recent resumption of talks. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and cooperative relationship between the United States and China."

During the first morning of the 2010 CPAC conference, two Democrats were mentioned the most by the speakers at the podium. One was President Obama and the other was Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). Both drew the same amount of ire from the crowd.

Unlike Obama, who CPACers have dismissed as merely a teleprompter-reliant celebrity since he debuted on the national political scene in 2004, the relationship between CPAC and Specter is a complicated one. Not only was Specter a Republican for years before switching parties in April, 2009. Specter himself was one of the politicians on the dais at CPAC just three years ago. At the CPAC 2007, Specter was part of a panel on the judiciary called, "Are Conservative Judicial Nominees DOA in the Democrat-Controlled Senate?"

Today, CPACers see him as part of the problem.

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Former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik was sentenced today to four years in prison for lying during his vetting to be secretary of homeland security and tax fraud charges arising in part from renovations on his apartment paid for by a company looking for a city license.

The sentence exceeded the 27 to 33 months sought by prosecutors.

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Sarah Palin's political appeal among the GOP base is undisputed, insofar as it applies to her own political fortunes -- but she might not be able to transfer her popularity to someone else.

Yesterday, in a posting on her Facebook account, Palin promoted a moneybomb fundraiser for Sean Duffy (R-WI), a district attorney and former Real World cast member running against longtime Democratic Rep. David Obey. "On this first anniversary of the stimulus, let's send a message to the big-spenders in Washington by helping Sean Duffy unseat the author of the stimulus," Palin wrote. "Let's put government back on our side and get to work revitalizing America!"

For his moneybomb, Duffy set a very low goal of only $25,000, which seemed like a depreciation of the "moneybomb" term compared to the events that usually attract six figures or even more -- and he still didn't get it. At midnight Central Time last night, the end of the original countdown on Duffy's site, the moneybomb had only taken in $24,585. As of this writing, he has $27,118.

Move over, Ann Coulter! Sarah Palin seems to have bumped the conservative queen from her most-favored status, if poster distribution at CPAC is any indication.

Young America's Foundation made these massive posters of Coulter and Palin and staffers are giving them away free to people who sign up for their mailing list.

Interested takers can get as many copies as they want of a Ronald Reagan "American values for all generations" calendar. They can take dozens of the free Obama posters with the words "Resist the Tyranny of Socialism" inscribed below or "Barack Obama Epic Fail" stickers, but you can only choose one top conservative gal.

TPMDC asked staffers which poster was more popular and they said they weren't keeping track, but we checked the stack and there was only one Palin left, and plenty of Coulter.

One YAF staffer admitted Palin was the hotter ticket item, and said he was disappointed she isn't speaking at CPAC.

Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio opened CPAC this morning, his speech peppered with standing ovations from the crowd. When he spoke about capturing terrorists, one audience member had a suggestion.

"Waterboard them!" the man yelled.

Rubio smiled, and the audience laughed.

"We will capture them," he went on. "We will get useful information from them," he said, to more laughter.

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Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is suing the Environmental Protection Agency in a bid to stop it from regulating global warming pollution. The centerpiece of his argument? Those leaked "Climate-Gate" emails.

Last year, the governor -- who faces a contested GOP primary race, which includes a Tea-Party-backed candidate who has lately caught fire -- raised the threat of seceding from the union. And on Tuesday, he opened a new front in his quest to tout his conservative bona fides.

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The new Rasmussen poll of Indiana, the first survey of the Senate race here since Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh suddenly announced his retirement, finds the two most prominent potential Dem replacement candidates trailing the Republicans.

Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsowrth trails former GOP Sen. Dan Coats by 46%-32%, trails former Rep. John Hostettler by 46%-27%, and trails state Sen. Marlin Stutzman by 40%-30%. Democratic Rep. Baron Hill is behind Coats by 48%-32%, trails Hostettler by 49%-31%, and is behind Stutzman by 41%-33%.

Neither Ellsworth nor Hill are officially in the race at this time, and an actual campaign would likely boost the eventual candidate's name recognition and poll numbers somewhat. But for now, at least, the Democrats appear to start out this open-seat contest significantly behind.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ) has become the 16th Democratic senator to sign a letter calling for passing a public health care option via reconciliation.

Lautenberg's office confirmed to TPMDC that he signed the letter, which was written by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and will be sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid. Passing the provision via reconciliation would require 51 votes.

Earlier today, Sen. Barbara Mikulski signed the letter.

You can read the letter here.