TPM News

Mark Sanford, who has survived a historically brazen sex scandal to remain in office as governor of South Carolina, today came out in defense of gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley -- a longtime political ally -- over the claim of an inappropriate physical relationship made by blogger and former Sanford spokesman Will Folks.

"I think that people see that stuff for what it is, which is politics as usual and in this case a particularly evil brand of politics as usual," Sanford said at a public event today, the AP reports.

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The Elaine Marshall campaign sent a very interesting letter to Cal Cunningham's supporters in the June 22 North Carolina Democratic Senate primary runoff.

Three weeks ago, the Marshall campaign's general consultant Thomas Mills mailed the letter to a list of Cunningham donors taken from FEC filings. To read the full letter, provided to us by the Cunningham campaign, click here. The letter told recipients that Cunningham could not win, after Marshall came in first place in the initial round of the primary, and encouraged them to get behind Marshall:

In the runoff election, Mr. Cunningham has very little to build upon. Sec. Marshall's fundraising has taken off since her victory. She will have to resources to complete in every medium and has a stronger, broader base to build upon. In addition, the runoff electorate will be African-American, a population in while she overwhelmingly defeated Mr. Cunningham, and almost 50% will be women over 50 years old, Sec. Marshall's base.

With your support, Mr. Cunningham built an impressive campaign. However, as I said, he has no credible path to victory in the runoff. Sec. Marshall will be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina. I invite you to join our campaign so we can begin the process of defeating Richard Burr in November. (Emphasis in the original.)

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The White House last week declared a new focus on the threat of homegrown terrorism, warning that "several recent incidences of violent extremists in the United States who are committed to fighting here and abroad have underscored the threat to the United States and our interests posed by individuals radicalized at home."

That language is from the Obama Administration's new National Security Strategy, a [document]( (.pdf) that comes out every few years (the last was in 2006) and serves as a broad statement of policy. The document continues: "Our best defenses against this threat are well informed and equipped families, local communities, and institutions."

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U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, has apologized for misstating the name of an award he received while in the Navy, but there are other instances in the past few years wherein Kirk has embellished or fudged his service record, while stopping short of outright lying about it. In each instance, Kirk's statements have served to cast his record and his proximity to danger in a more, rather than less, heroic light: fostering the impression that he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and claiming he did a tour of duty in Afghanistan, when both are misleading.

Some of Kirk's exaggerations were first documented in 2005 on the blog Nitpicker by an Afghanistan vet, and liberal, named Terry Welch. It was Welch who found the claim on Kirk's congressional website that Kirk was "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." For a larger view click on this link to an archive of Kirk's site, or on this screengrab, which Welch saved in 2005:

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House Republicans are returning to their promise of repealing the Democrats' health care reform law with a retread of their own alternative plan that a Congressional Budget Office analysis last year determined would provide coverage for next to no one. Just in time for the midterm elections, the Republicans introduced legislation to scrap "Obama care" -- even parts that voters like -- and sub in their own version.

As a refresher, their plan would let people buy insurance across state lines, give states more power and would include tort reform to end so-called "junk lawsuits" that the Republicans say make health care costs more expensive. The CBO score last fall found the GOP plan would cover just 3 million more people "leaving about 52 million" without insurance at about the same as the 2009 share of uninsured people. It would reduce premiums by between zero and three percent, CBO said. To hear the Republicans tell it, the measure would decrease premiums by "up to 20 percent." It reduces the deficit over time, but so does the Democrats' law.

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Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper are separating after four decades of marriage. They just celebrated their 40th anniversary two weeks ago.

The Gores called the separation "a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together."

The news was first reported by Politico and confirmed by a Gore spokeswoman.

The couple made the announcement in an "Email from Al and Tipper Gore."

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Senate candidate Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today is going live with his first television ads of the election, following a rough few weeks of press from exaggerating his military record on several occasions. The three soft, 30-second spots focus on Connecticut residents Blumenthal has helped over his career and attempt to exploit a new poll showing he outranks his rival Linda McMahon (R-CT) on measures of "character," a campaign source said.

TPMDC obtained the new ads from a campaign source today. They show a family Blumenthal helped get insurance coverage, and a man with Leukemia who Blumenthal helped receive a needed operation. The ad below features an Ellington, Connecticut resident who had her home destroyed in a fire. Blumenthal's office helped her negotiate with her insurance company and a firm helping remove the debris of her home.

The tag line is "For Connecticut. First. Last. Always." The ads will rotate on Nutmeg State television. The TPM Poll Average of this race has Blumenthal leading McMahon 52.2 percent-37.7 percent.

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