TPM News

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced today a list of target races for 26 House seats, almost all of them held by the GOP.

The list is a sign that the Democrats aren't intending to totally play defense this year. It is of course a widely-held view that the Democrats will lose seats this year, and probably a significant amount, after two consecutive wave elections in which they've gotten all the way up to 257 House seats.

But for their part, the Democrats are trying to stay on offense. "These strong candidates are getting the attention of folks back home because of their willingness to be independent voices for their districts and prevent a return to the same failed Bush policies that drove America into an economic ditch," said DCCC executive director Jon Vogel, in the press release. "As these strong candidates continue building excitement for their campaigns to create jobs and help middle class families back home, the DCCC will help them become even more competitive in November."

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Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) just can't get any respect. Nearly a month ago, he went to the climate change conference in Copenhagen to explain that global warming was a "hoax" conceived by the United Nations and spread by the "Hollywood elite." But the European press would have none of it. A German reporter even told the the cowboy boot-wearing senator that he was "ridiculous." Inhofe suffered his latest indignity at the hands of Rolling Stone, which awarded him the 7th spot on its list of the "planet's worst enemies."

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Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) just hosted a conference call with liberal bloggers, and we used the opportunity to further question him about an allegation he made a few weeks ago against his former compatriots in the Republican Party -- that the GOP caucus decided early on to entirely obstruct President Obama, rather than work in a bipartisan manner.

"Well, the pressure was tremendous on everybody not to participate, and the pressure was on me not to participate, and you know what I did," said Specter, who switched to the Democratic Party last April, in the face of a right-wing primary challenge. "We had six Republicans who were negotiating. Besides Collins and Snowe, we also had Mel Martinez, we had Voinovich involved, we had Lisa Murkowski. And one by one, those three dropped off. There was a concerted plan in the Republican caucus to stonewall the stimulus package. And when I voted for it, and it took me to get the necessary votes, all hell broke loose politically, which I've commented on extensively."

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Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush issued the following statement today about the crisis in Haiti and President Obama's request that they help with relief efforts. Here's the full text:

We are deeply saddened by the devastation and suffering caused by the recent earthquake in Haiti. The people of Haiti are in our thoughts and prayers.

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The venerated Cook Political Report followed the Rothenberg Political Report in calling the Massachusetts special Senate election a "toss up" today. The move is based on what the staff at Cook write is "unbelievable intensity" among supporters of Scott Brown (R).

The publication sounds as surprised as anyone that the race to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate has become such a tough one for Democrats, and though it's now listed as anyone's to win, Cook still says "at the end of the day it's unlikely" that Martha Coakley (D) "ends up losing" next week.

"After all, no Republican Senate candidate has won in the Bay State since 1972," Cook writes.

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of North Dakota finds Republican Gov. John Hoeven way ahead of both possible Democratic candidates in the race to pick up the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan.

Hoeven leads liberal talk show host Ed Schultz by 56%-32%, and he leads former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (whom Hoeven previously defeated in the 2000 gubernatorial race) by 55%-34%.

As Kos notes, this is not because of a weakness of these individual candidates, but is because of the weakness of the Democratic Party itself in this red state: "Yet compared to last week's poll with Dorgan, Dems have only lost a few points against Hoeven, suggesting that it's general distaste for the Democrats that's driving down their numbers. Indeed, we asked favorability numbers for the two parties, and the Democratic Party is viewed favorably by just 25 percent of North Dakotans, and just 17 percent of Independents, versus 61 percent disapproval. Republicans, at 39-53, are not exactly popular, but in the battle of lesser evils, certainly in much better shape."

Ted Kennedy Jr., the son of the late senator Edward M. Kennedy, issued a statement of support today for Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate in the race to fill his father's Massachusetts senate seat. Read the full text after the jump:

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today responded to comments about the Haiti earthquake by televangelist Pat Robertson and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, calling the remarks "stupid."

Robertson had said Haitians "swore a pact to the devil" hundreds of years ago, which resulted in the country being "cursed by one thing after another."

Asked about that today, Gibbs said, "It never ceases to amaze that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that could be so utterly stupid. But it like clockwork happens with some regularity."

Limbaugh, on the other hand, suggested that the Obama administration would use contributions to the Red Cross to gather information about donors.

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This week, National Journal reported that the health insurance lobby funneled tens of millions of dollars to the Chamber of Commerce to fund an ad campaign attacking heath-care reform. The Chamber essentially acted as a pass-through, allowing the health insurers to avoid having their names tied to the campaign.

The story understandably generated outrage -- with health-care reform advocates now demanding hearings. But it looks like the pass-through tactic is nothing new. In fact, it's a technique the Chamber has been pioneering for almost a decade.

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