TPM News

Some key developments took place over the weekend in the Minnesota gubernatorial recount, with Republican nominee Tom Emmer's withdrawing almost all of its ballot-challenges that were deemed to be frivolous by the local officials at the counting table. But on the other hand, even though he is mathematically guaranteed to lose the recount, he also says he's not going away.

As the Star Tribune reports, the Emmer campaign had challenged 2,604 ballots in heavily Democratic Hennepin County (Minneapolis), with almost all the challenges being declared frivolous. At Friday's State Canvassing Board Meeting, Emmer lead attorney Eric Magnuson (a former state Chief Justice who previously sat on the board in the 2008 Senate recount between Al Franken and Norm Coleman) promised to bring the number down.

Then on Saturday, out of 2,604 challenges, the Emmer campaign reviewed the ballots and brought the number down to...24. Magnuson said that the large number of withdrawals "doesn't mean I agreed they were frivolous ... but I was not going to take them before the Canvassing Board."

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The national Tea Party Nation group is planning to send a letter to Sarah Palin asking the former governor of Alaska and John McCain sidekick to run for chair of the Republican National Committee.

Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips says in his letter to Palin that without her at the helm of the RNC, the party will fall back into "establishment" hands.

"We need you as Chairman of the RNC. You have shown in the past no hesitation to take on the establishment. You did it in Alaska," Phillips writes in the letter. "If we end up with establishment control of the GOP and their support for an establishment candidate in 2012, Obama and the socialists will have won...We need someone who will put conservatives in control of the party apparatus, not RINOs."

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will follow Sen. John McCain's lead on Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal, he said this weekend on "Meet The Press."

McCain, the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, spent much of last week's repeal hearings railing against a Pentagon report that the policy can be repealed with minimal damage.

McCain has vowed to block the bill from coming to the floor until more hearings are held.

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Bernanke: 'The Unemployment Rate Is Just Not Going Down' Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in an interview with 60 Minutes: "The unemployment rate is just not going down. Unemployment is just about the same as it was in mid-2009, when the economy started growing. So, that's a major concern. And it looks that at current rates, that it may take some years before the unemployment rate is back down to more normal levels."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:15 a.m. ET. He will depart from the White House at 9:50 a.m. ET, and depart from Andrews Air Force Base at 10:05 a.m. ET, and will arrive at 11:05 a.m. ET in Greensboro, North Carolina. He will tour Bio Tech Facilities at Forsyth Technical Community College at 11:45 a.m. ET, and deliver remarks to workers at 12:20 p.m. ET. He will depart from Greensboro at 1:55 p.m. ET, arriving at Andrews air Force Base at 2:55 p.m. Et, and back at the White House at 3:10 p.m. ET. He will meet at 3:15 p.m. ET with senior advisers.

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A tax cut deal looks all but certain now, so this is mostly just an intellectual exercise. But on the off chance that the deal gets derailed, and the Bush tax cut expire...what then?

Broadly speaking, there are two possible outcomes if that happens: the Dems win, or the Dems lose, and everyone decides the should've just caved in December. Both start at the same place: The tax cuts expire on January 1, touching off a huge spin war between the parties. Republicans call it the largest tax hike in history, point, perhaps, to sinking stock prices, hammer away relentlessly in a way that only Republicans know how to do. Democrats continue their current approach, argue that Republicans have held tax cuts hostage until millionaires get a bonus tax cut, point to this past weekend's votes as proof, and so on.

Messaging will be a huge part of it. But bigger (and, of course, related) will be the maneuvering on Capitol Hill. I envision two basic tracks.

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Rangel: 'They Knew' I Didn't Deserve Censure Appearing on State of the Union, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said that his censure this past week was the product of a political environment in which members of Congress were afraid of appearing "easy on anybody in Washington." Rangel added: "I can understand that feeling back home, but I tell you, individually, whether it's Republicans or Democrats, they knew what I had done did not reach the level of a censure."

Durbin: 'Unconscionable' To Cut Top Taxes And Not Extend Unemployment Appearing on Face The Nation, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that any tax-cut deal would also have to include an extension of unemployment benefits: "The notion that we would give tax cuts to those making over a million dollars a year, which is the Republican position, and then turn our backs on 2 million Americans who will lose unemployment benefits before Christmas ... is unconscionable."

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Signaling confidence that Democrats will stop blustering and cave on tax cuts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted today that all of the Bush era tax rates will be extended temporarily.

"I think it's pretty clear now taxes are not going up on anybody in the middle of this recession," McConnell said on Meet the Press. "It isn't going to happen."

McConnell acknowledged that, despite broad Democratic opposition on Capitol Hill, the White House and GOP are currently negotiating a compromise based on a temporary extension of all the Bush tax cuts, which would likely punt this debate into presidential election season.

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