TPM News

Democrats are strongly considering swift legislative action to allow embryonic stem cell research to continue in the wake of a district court judge's ruling that abruptly stopped all research.

Rep. Diana DeGette, who has championed stem cell research measures for years, briefed House Democrats via phone yesterday on the surprise ruling that experts told us puts scientific research back to a more restrictive level than it was under President George W. Bush.

DeGette (D-CO) told TPM in a phone interview last night that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of leadership are "very concerned" and she believes legislation could be passed as early as next month.

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The first public poll of the general election cycle in Florida should make Democrats smile -- after the brutal Republican primary campaign for Governor, Democratic nominee Alex Sink is on top heading into November. The new survey of 567 likely voters, conducted by PPP (D) in the two days before the Aug 24 primary vote, shows Sink leading newly-crowned Republican nominee Rick Scott 41-34. Independent candidate Bud Chiles -- expected to draw Democratic votes, if any -- has 8% of the vote.

Polls at the end of the Republican primary, which saw Scott negative campaign his way past Republican establishment pick Bill McCollum, showed Sink was benefiting from the ugly fight. The new PPP poll suggests that Scott turned many voters off with his scorched-earth strategy against McCollum and will now have to regain their support.

Scott's certainly shown he has the resources to try and buy his way back into the voters' good graces. But with Sink leading by eight with a Democratic-leaning independent on the ballot, Scott may have found himself in a deeper general election hole than he expected.

The TPM Poll Average for the race shows Sink leading Scott 38.8-30.5. Chiles draws 11.0% of the vote.

Former Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN), the Dem nominee for governor of Minnesota, is now chiming in on a controversy surrounding the business that was originally founded by his family: Target's $150,000 donation to a business group supporting Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer.

As the Star Tribune reports, Dayton responded to the controversy while speaking to reporters:

Dayton: "Personally, I'm disappointed in that decision. I am very proud of what my father and his brothers, who are my uncles, and thousands of Minnesotans built as the Dayton-Hudson Corporation and Target is one of those subsidiaries. You know, my family's been out of the operating side of the business for about the last, almost the last 30 years. I don't hold any stock directly in Target in my own holdings. I don't know the percent of my family's holding in Target but I would estimate it is less than one percent of the actively traded shares in the company and certainly my family has no voice in the actions of Target corporation."

Reporter: "Had your family still be involved do you think that Target would have given to MN Forward."

Dayton: "I don't believe so. No."

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Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) has chalked up one win in a pretrial hearing that began yesterday: He will be tried before his co-defendants.

DeLay, who was charged in 2005 with money laundering, has been pushing for a trial for five years. Prosecutors wanted to try two other defendants, former aides of DeLay's first; but the judge denied them.

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The progressive group Social Security Works is calling on Alan Simpson to resign as co-chair of the White House's Commission on Fiscal Reform for comparing the entitlement program to "a milk cow with 310 million tits."

"Alan Simpson's comments are offensive and sexist and clearly demonstrate that he is unfit to continue to lead the President's Fiscal Commission," says Eric Kingson, co-director of Social Security Works. "His comments not only show his true view of women and older Americans but also his disdain for the very program he claims he is trying to protect - Social Security. Social Security Works is demanding that he resign immediately. If he will not, the President must fire him. Alan Simpson has no business deciding the fate of hundreds of millions of Americans' retirement future. He should have no power over Social Security, which provides vital economic support to millions of children and people with disabilities, as well as seniors and their families."

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Hannah Rosenthal, the president's special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, responded to criticism by the Anti-Defamation League that she shouldn't have accompanied a group of Muslim-American clerics on a visit to former concentration camps in Europe.

ADL director Abe Foxman, after reports that he had lobbied U.S. officials not to go on the trip, said he had simply "raised the question" of why Rosenthal attended, saying she should be dealing solely with other governments.

Rosenthal doesn't see it that way.

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Republican businessman Ron Johnson, the likely GOP nominee against Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), has a new ad introducing himself to the voters of his state, and seeking to put forward an outsider image.

The ad seems to employ a similar quirky approach to the one that Feingold has always used for his own spots. In this case, Johnson parodies standard campaign ads by having his family awkwardly reading their lines from the teleprompter about what a great guy he is.

"Okay, that's enough," Johnson says. "Obviously I'm not a professional politician, and they're not professional actors. We're just a Wisconsin family worried about our country. I'm Ron Johnson, and I approved this message because it's time to get our nation's house in order."

The TPM Poll Average shows Johnson currently leading Feingold by 48.8%-46.9%.

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Former McCain economic adviser, and longtime stimulus defender, Mark Zandi took issue today with House Minority Leader John Boehner's criticisms of President Obama's economic policies, and with multiple GOP calls for Obama's top economic advisers to resign.

"I think we'd be in a measurably worse place if not for the stimulus," Zandi said at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning. "If we had not had the stimulus...we'd have fewer jobs today than we actually have."

Zandi was responding to Boehner's contention yesterday that stimulus spending "has gotten us nowhere." Asked whether he agreed with Boehner, Zandi said "no."

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Thanks to an old-fashioned political upset, Sitka, Alaska Mayor Scott McAdams is about to get a lot more ink.

McAdams (D) will face the winner of the Republican primary between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Joe Miller, though we may not know for sure if Miller unseated Murkowski until next month. National Democrats tell us privately the Alaska Senate race wasn't even on their radar, until today when Miller's showing stunned Washington.

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