TPM News

Some dead wrestlers could be creating a growing political problem for Linda McMahon in the Connecticut Senate race.

For better or worse, McMahon was CEO of a company in which actors perform all sorts of dangerous live stunts, and are known to have very hard lifestyles that, at least in some cases, include substance abuse problems. In recent weeks, there have been a number of politically-damaging news headlines citing examples in which performers have died. (Check out this one, this one and this one, for instance).

Connecticut Democrats have seized on the Republican Senate nominee's potential weakness, accusing McMahon and her company of ignoring the welfare of WWE employees who may struggle for years with substance abuse problems and dangerous work environments and lifestyles.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Bringing The Smackdown: Linda McMahon's Campaign For Senate, And Her Colorful Pro-Wrestling Past]

While Democratic nominee Richard Blumenthal has tried to publicly avoid knocking McMahon over the WWE's dead wrestlers, the Connecticut Mirror reports that "his campaign has quietly and insistently tried to focus the state's political press and editorial writers on the dark side of the business that produced her fortune: World Wrestling Entertainment." On the other hand, the Connecticut Democratic Party is shouting to just about anyone who'll listen about how bad they say this makes the Republican look, while Team McMahon is trying hard to downplay the story.

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Remember when Scott Brown signed autographs and added the number "41" -- signaling to voters he was poised and ready to become that critical vote against health care reform? Delaware voters are getting the same signal, with tea party darling Christine O'Donnell (R) promising to single-handedly block any Democratic agenda during a lame-duck session of Congress if she's elected.

Delaware's Senate race is unlike any of the other critical midterm face-offs Nov. 2 -- the winner will be seated immediately and not in January like most of the rest of the Senate victors.

As she battles longtime-but-less-so-these-days frontrunner Rep. Mike Castle for Tuesday's Republican primary, O'Donnell talks about this being a "special" election every chance she gets, calling herself a key "filibuster" vote. But no one seems to realize just how right she is.

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President Obama urged fringe pastor Terry Jones not to burn Korans this Saturday, saying it would be "completely contrary to our values as Americans." Further, he said, it could lead to a "recruitment bonanza" for al-Qaeda.

"If he's listening, I just hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values of Americans. That this country has been built on the notions of religious freedom and religious tolerance," Obama said on Good Morning America. "And as a very practical matter, as commander of chief of the Armed Forces of the United States I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We're already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat he's making."

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Marco Rubio, the Republican nominee for Senate in Florida, is leading the state's strange three-way race to fill an open Senate seat. According to a new CNN/Time poll of the race -- which pits Rubio against Democrat Kendrick Meek and independent Charlie Crist -- Rubio leads Crist 36-34. Meek comes in third with 24% of the vote.

Past polling has shown Crist and Rubio swapping leads in the contest while Meek has generally run well behind the two. The 24% he pulls in the new CNN/Time poll is one of the highest totals Meek has drawn in a public poll for months, coming on the heels of Meek's strong win in the Democratic primary and subsequent boost in media attention and name ID. Meek has been targeting Crist heavily in the past couple weeks, joining with Rubio in multiple attacks calling the independent candidate a hypocrite. It looks like his strategy has been working -- most likely to Crist's detriment.

The TPM Poll Average shows Rubio with 35.5% of the vote, Crist with 34.3% and Meek with 19.3%.

The CNN/Time survey of 899 registered voters was conducted Sept. 2-7. The margin of error is 3.5%.

The man who bought a Republican gubernatorial nomination in Florida, Rick Scott, is having a tough time selling himself to general election voters. A new poll from CNN/Time shows Democratic nominee Alex Sink leading Scott 49-42, the latest in a series of polls showing Scott well behind the Democrat.

Republicans feared Scott -- he of ultra-conservative views and skeletons in the closet galore -- would have a hard time appealing to Florida's swingy and moderate general electorate. Early polls of the general election fight (most taken before the independent-but-Democratic-leaning Bud Chiles dropped out of the race, a move generally seen to benefit Sink) have shown the fears about Scott to be well-founded.

The CNN/Time survey of 899 registered voters in Florida was conducted Sept. 2-7. The margin of error is 3.5%.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, one of the ostensibly mainstream politicians who has come out vocally against building an Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan, today spoke out against a Florida church's plan to burn Korans on Sept. 11.

"People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation -- much like building a mosque at Ground Zero," Palin wrote in a press release. "Book burning is antithetical to American ideals."

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Mike Spears, a real dark horse independent candidate for Louisiana Senate has come up with a great stunt for getting votbloggers' attention: Challenge David Vitter to a Ultimate Fighting Championship-style steel cage free for all.

The Daily Advertiser reports:

Spears issued the challenge at a press conference to announce USA-MMAS "Return of the Champions" on Oct. 16 at the Cajundome.

Citing the 2007 scandal in which Vitter was linked to a Washington D.C. prostitution ring, Spears billed the bout as a modern day duel.

"Sen. Vitter's behavior - his admission to breaking the law in 2007 - has insulted the honor of Louisiana and the Louisiana Senate seat," Spears said.

"I'm in this race, and this fight, to restore the honor of Louisiana and of the nation as well."

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A new poll from CNN/Time out this evening confirms what past polls in California have been showing for a while now: the gubernatorial race is essentially a dead heat. Meg Whitman has a slight lead in the poll, just as she has in some other recent polling pitting her against CA Attorney General Jerry Brown (D). It's not much of a lead, mind you -- Whitman leads by just 48-46 in the new poll -- but it's enough to suggest her summertime ad blitz aimed at building up her moderate bona fides with California voters has been fairly successful.

Brown is now on the air taking Whitman on, and promising to expose her as too conservative and too inexperienced for California voters weary of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) reign. The TPM Poll Average shows Brown begins to make that case running basically neck-and-neck with Whitman. She leads the average 46.0-44.2.

The CNN/Time poll of 866 registered voters was conducted Sept. 2-7. The margin of error is 3.5%.

President Obama called out House Minority Leader John Boehner by name no less than eight times during his speech in Cleveland this afternoon.

That's not how Obama usually operates. During last Monday's Labor Day address, Obama only went so far as to lash out at nameless Republicans in Congress -- a pattern that has frustrated his friendly critics for years. In the 2008 campaign, then-candidate Obama was always reluctant to criticize his opponents by name. This was true during both the Democratic primary, and the general election against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

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