TPM News

At a Pennsylvania Progressive forum this Saturday, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) were supposed to be doing separate Q&As, one after the other.

But Specter apparently jumped the gun and climbed onstage while Sestak was giving his closing remarks, and a moderator asked him to get off the stage.

Watch, care of PCN:

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The new Rasmussen poll of Florida has former state House Speaker Marco Rubio taking a big lead over Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican primary for Senate.

The numbers: Rubio 49%, Crist 37%, with a ±5% margin of error. Back in December, Rasmussen had the two of them tied at 43% each. A Quinnipiac poll from last week gave Rubio a narrower lead of 47%-44%, but this also showed clear movement in Rubio's favor compared to the previous numbers.

Rasmussen's analysis points directly to the likely cause of Crist's problems: "Crist's fortunes appear to be tied in part to national unhappiness over President Obama and his policies. Many conservatives began rebelling against Crist when he became one of the few Republican governors to embrace Obama's $787-billion economic stimulus plan last year. The national Republican party establishment endorsed Crist early on, but a number of prominent national party conservatives have since announced their support for Rubio."

House Republicans held a forum last month to slam the Obama administration's alliance with organized labor, charging, among other things, that government favoritism toward the labor movement was unfairly preventing non-union companies from getting contracts. But GOP lawmakers declined to mention that a key witness at the event, the CEO of a Pennsylvania construction firm, had in fact agreed to be temporarily barred from receiving government contracts after being found to have violated state wage laws by underpaying workers.

Stephen Worth, who runs Worth & Company, appeared in late January alongside Steve Forbes and Elaine Chao as a witness at a Capitol Hill forum entitled "A Culture of Favoritism: The Obama Administration's Labor Agenda." The event, organized by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor committee, was designed to showcase, as a GOP press release put it, how "Washington Democrats have sought to reward political allies" in the labor movement, "at the expense of working Americans."

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Democrats are privately admitting the deal they made with Sen. Ben Nelson on Medicaid funding for Nebraska was a major factor in souring the America people on the health care reform bill.

Senate leadership inked a deal in December to win over Nelson (D-NE), allowing him to insert pro-life language in the measure and to secure federal funding for the cost of any Medicaid expansion in what has now been dubbed the "Cornhusker kickback."

It's been the target of lawsuits and scorn from both the right and the left, and leaders in both chambers believe it ultimately will be stripped from the final measure, whenever one surfaces.

Instead of considering more dealmaking to get a final health care bill passed, Democratic sources privately acknowledge that Nelson's compromise did more harm than good. Several sources said it tops a list of problems that have hurt the health care process.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele released a statement today regarding the White House budget proposal. Here's the full text:

"Last year, President Obama pledged his budget would usher in a 'new era of responsibility.' Instead, his binge spending agenda set record deficits and did nothing to prevent double-digit unemployment. This year, President Obama promises his budget will be a 'new foundation for prosperity,' when in reality it sets the stage for the type of economic stagnation we haven't seen since the days of Jimmy Carter. The president is attempting to sell himself as a fiscal hawk by using gimmicks like PAYGO and his so-called 'spending freeze' as fig leaves to hide his binge spending. But Americans know that President Obama's budget will double down on his liberal agenda, growing the deficit by record proportions and killing jobs by raising taxes on small businesses. Congressional Democrats will undoubtedly take their binge spending to even higher levels, while the GOP will present a common-sense budget that will reduce the deficit, grow the economy and create jobs, giving voters yet another reason to vote Republican this November and return balance and sanity to Washington."

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, a conservative activist and son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), has just put out a press release officially announcing the endorsement of Sarah Palin. Paul also announced that his campaign has received a "generous contribution" from Palin's PAC.

"Governor Palin is providing tremendous leadership as the Tea Party movement and constitutional conservatives strive to take our country back," Paul said in the press release. "Sarah Palin is a giant in American politics. I am proud to receive her support."

Paul is running in the Republican primary against Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who is widely regarded to be the party establishment's favored candidate in the race.

President Obama spoke this morning about his proposed $3.8 trillion spending plan for the coming fiscal year -- a budget that projects record deficits -- while simultaneously emphasizing the need to rein in spending.

"We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences, as if waste doesn't matter, as if the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like monopoly money," Obama said.

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A 28-year-old Loyola law school student and conservative activist named Ben Wetmore has emerged as the Fifth Beatle of the Landrieu phone-tampering case.

Wetmore, who hired alleged phone tamperer James O'Keefe at the Leadership Institute a few years back to help launch conservative media outlets on college campuses, this month offered up his New Orleans house as a crash pad for O'Keefe and co-defendants Joseph Basel and Stan Dai, the New York Times reports.

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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told a conservative conference in New Hampshire this weekend that he wants to see a new version of the Contract With America, the document credited with helping Republicans take Congress in 1994. This time, he said, it will be written with the help of tea partiers.

According to the Union Leader, Gingrich said Dick Armey -- the former House majority leader under Gingrich and the current head of FreedomWorks -- is soliciting online suggestions from tea partiers for a new contract.

"The idea is to go out to the whole country and say, 'What would you have in a contract with America to politicians?'" he said. "It's a very interesting idea."

Gingrich and Armey were both closely involved with the original contract.