TPM News

The Democratic National Committee today is going on television with a second ad pushing general election themes you'll see this November, attempting to define Minority Leader John Boehner as lobbyist-friendly.

"He wants to be Speaker, but we all know who John Boehner really speaks for," the narrator states as the screen flashes: "John Boehner: A Speaker for Big-Time Lobbyists."

The citations in the ad are from this yesterday's New York Times story suggesting Boehner is tight with lobbyists. Boehner's office strongly pushed back on the piece, which ran over the weekend.

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Ben Nelson (D-NE), the most conservative of the Senate's 59 Democrats, became the first in his party to say he might side with Republicans on the Bush tax cuts, suggesting he might filibuster a tax bill that allowed tax cuts for the rich to expire.

"It would be very hard for me to support that," Nelson told reporters outside the Senate chamber before a vote this evening.

Afterward, TPM asked him what tools he would use to ensure that the tax cuts for the rich are extended. "My vote," he said.

Nelson's not alone.

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Paul LePage, the conservative Republican candidate for governor in Maine, stormed out of a press conference today after a reporter peppered him with questions about his property taxes and residency.

The Portland Press-Herald reported on Friday that LePage's wife, listed as the sole owner of the couple's homes, improperly claimed an exemption on the property taxes on both their Maine home and Florida home. The exemption, called the homestead exemption, may only be used on one's single, primary residence.

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Rep. Paul Ryan, who would be the key Republican on budget issues if the GOP wins back control of the House, said today there should be no confusion about extending the Bush-era tax cuts. Republicans want to keep all of them, said Ryan (R-WI), in an interview with Sean Hannity.

The Democrats today were trying to suggest the Republicans are split on the issue of extending the tax cuts for the middle class only, as President Obama wants, or also for the rich.

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The Tea Party Express is calling for the "immediate resignation or termination" of Delaware Republican Party Chairman Tom Ross, over Ross' support of GOP establishment pick Rep. Mike Castle in the Senate Republican primary. But it just so happens that the group's call for "termination" comes just a few days after Ross received a death threat, one serious enough for him to temporarily leave his home.

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Democrats who hoped to exploit GOP divisions over tax cuts are now facing their own split, and have made no firm decisions on on how to proceed for maximum political gain. House leaders are still casting about for consensus as members return from a long summer recess. This afternoon, top leadership aides are disagreeing on whether there will even be a vote and conservative Democrats are attempting to pressure Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to put them in a tough spot before the midterms.

After we quoted two House Democratic leadership aides telling us there would not be a vote, another senior leadership aide called TPM to say that leadership is still considering all of its options, including a vote after all.

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The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal is out this weekend with a glowing profile of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, just about two months after the Justice Department dropped its investigation into whether Gonzales politicized the DOJ during his tenure.

As you might expect, Gonzales denied that his 2006 firing of U.S. attorneys was politically motivated.

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More bad news for Kelly Ayotte: A Magellan poll released today shows the Republican establishment's preferred New Hampshire Senate candidate only leading her primary opponent Ovide Lamontagne 35%-31% ahead of tomorrow's primary.

LaMontagne, the Tea Party favorite, has been gaining some ground on the establishment-backed Ayotte over the past few weeks. The previous Magellan poll, from September 1, showed Ayotte leading Lamontagne 34-21. A PPP poll released today shows LaMontagne trailing Ayotte by seven points.

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