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Gov. Tim Pawlenty, (R-MN), a potential presidential candidate, will be visiting Iowa in mid-April, his PAC announced.

Pawlenty will give the keynote speech to an "Iowa Taxpayers' Day" event on April 17, hosted by Iowans for Tax Relief.

The four Republican candidates for governor will also be in attendance -- so whoever ends up winning the primary on June 8, Pawlenty will have already met them.

In an interview with blogger Mike Stark, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) appeared to say that African-Americans are worse off today because of legalized abortion, than they were compared to slavery.

"It seems like humanity is very gifted at hiding from something that's obviously true. I mean in this country we had slavery for God knows how long. And now we look back on it and we say, 'Well how blind were they, what was the matter with them, you know, I can't believe, I mean four million, this is incredible,'" said Franks. "And we're right. We're right, we should look back on that with criticism. It is a crushing mark on America's soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more black children, far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today, than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.

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A pair of new polls show that Republicans have the momentum to seize Vice President Biden's seat in the Senate this November. Both polls, one by Rasmussen and the other by Research 2000 (for DailyKos), show Rep. Mike Castle (R) with a big lead over Democratic candidate Chris Coons, who stepped into the contest after Biden's son Beau bowed out.

Castle leads Coons 53-32 in the Rasmussen poll, which was released yesterday. The DailyKos numbers show Castle ahead 53-35. But despite the deep hole he remains in, there are signs that Coons is making up some ground.

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For almost a year now, every time budget reconciliation has been in the headline, Republicans have been there to warn that they'll clog up the process by offering dozens--perhaps hundreds--of amendments on the floor, eating up valuable floor time, and forcing Democrats to take tough votes on controversial issues.

Most recently, Politico quoted a Republican aide laying out the threat: "While debate time is limited, the number and content of amendments are not. This approach to moving health care has a lot of problems, but one Democrats haven't yet focused on is the number of bad votes they'd have to take to get there. Amendments don't have to be germane (well, they do, and if they're not, Dems can move to set them aside, but we can move to waive that; either way, there's a vote)."

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February 25, 2010: Lawmakers from both parties meet with President Obama at the Blair House to discuss health care reform. The meeting lasts for seven hours. Check out TPM's full coverage of the summit.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson




Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius listen to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy




House Minority Leader John Boehner enters the room. Boehner and other Republicans said ahead of the meeting that the only compromise they would accept would be to scrap the current bills and start over.

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy




Obama and Vice President Biden listen. The White House made clear before the summit that Democrats would not throw out the bills that have already passed.

Newscom/Shawn Thew




Boehner and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) chat.

Newscom/Shawn Thew




The Democratic leadership: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Newscom/Shawn Thew




Remember the Gang of Six? Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) at the summit. The other Republican senator in the "gang," Olympia Snowe, declined an invitation from the White House.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza






Newscom/Shawn Thew




Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) confer. Schumer is the highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate to sign a letter urging leadership to pass a public option via reconciliation.

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy




Obama speaks with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) after the summit, which went more than an hour over time. Watch Obama's closing remarks.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza




A small group of demonstrators protests outside the Blair House during the summit.

Christina Bellantoni/TPM

Democrats put Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal to cut Social Security and create a voucher system for Medicare in the spotlight at yesterday's health care summit, but both sides proclaimed entitlement reform must be high on the national agenda.

Lawmakers wrestling with finishing up health care reform legislation yesterday dared each other to actually do something about it. The Republicans appointed Ryan, ranking member on the powerful Budget Committee, to speak for them yesterday on cost control. He did not tout his own plan - which GOP leaders have sidestepped - but lambasted the Democrats.

"We want to decentralize the system, give more power to small businesses, more power to individuals, and make insurers compete more. But if you federalize it and standardize it and mandate it, you do not achieve that," Ryan said.

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Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) announced this afternoon that he will not seek another term in office, after the New York Times revealed his administration had intimidated a woman into dropping assault charges against a top aide.

Paterson, who took office when former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) stepped down following a prostitution scandal, has maintained he would run despite low popularity and reports that the White House was pushing him to step down.

"Today I am announcing that I am ending my campaign for governor of the state of New York," Paterson said.

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A 2003 handbook for the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Iraq exhorts soldiers to "Do your best to prevent war crimes" and warns that "when an Arab is confronted by criticism, you can expect him to react by interpreting the facts to suit himself or flatly denying the facts."

The document, obtained and posted by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, runs nearly 100 pages outlining on the history of Iraq, the customs of Arabs, and the rules of war.

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The Florida Republican Senate primary race is already a knock-down, drag-out fight -- and it's still six months before the primary itself. This week's new development -- with the news of leaked documents showing that Marco Rubio charged more than $100,000 to the state GOP's credit card when he was speaker of the state House, some of it on potentially personal expenses -- is just the latest example.

Gov. Charlie Crist, Rubio's opponent, denied that he was in any way connected to the leak -- and at the same time seemed to be ridiculing Rubio as too soft to take a political attack or withstand any scrutiny. "I don't know where it came from," Crist said. "It doesn't really matter to me. What matters to me is that the people have a right to know how people spend their money, how they comport themselves, how they conduct themselves before they put themselves up for public office. That's happened to the speaker. He apparently doesn't like it. That's too bad. Welcome to the NFL."

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