TPM News

Last year, a group of conservatives got together to beg Rep. Michele Bachmann to run for House Speaker after the Republicans won control of the House. They weren't very successful -- only 800 people signed up by the last time the group updated their website and, of course, Bachmann did not run for the job now held by John Boehner.

But now that same group is pushing Bachmann to run for the highest position in the country. And this time, if the tea leaves Bachmann's leaving all over the early presidential primary states are being read correctly, they may get their wish.

"We forced the establishment to respect the will of the Tea Party, and our petition drive made national news," the leaders of wrote of their November campaign to "nearly 1,000 supporters" in an email the group shared with reporters Wednesday. "Now, we have set our sights on a bigger goal: convincing Michele to run for president."

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Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) accused Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, of employing a "Charlie Sheen" strategy in trying to convince the American public to stay the course in Afghanistan.

"General Petraeus is giving us the Charlie Sheen counter-insurgency strategy, which is to give exclusive interviews to every major network, and to keep saying 'we're winning' and hope the public actually agrees with you," Woolsey said during a speech on the House floor Wednesday.

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Sharron Angle, the former Nevada state representative and 2010 Republican nominee for Senate -- who lost that race due in part to her talk about "Second Amendment remedies" and other very right-wing positions, and a refusal to speak to non-conservative media -- has now officially declared her candidacy for the open House seat in the state's Second District, which Republican Rep. Dean Heller is leaving to run for Senate.

Angle previously ran for the seat in 2006, very narrowly losing the Republican primary to Heller in the open-seat race. She then went on to great fame in 2010, ultimately losing the Senate race to Reid by a 50%-45% margin.

"The 2010 election was bittersweet," Angle says in a new YouTube video. "Conservatives had some victories, but we still face obstacles from Democrats in Congress, and in the White House.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is pouring the pressure on the Obama administration to establish a no-fly zone or deal with the historical consequences.

"One test in foreign policy - at least be as bold as the French," Graham, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a release Wednesday. "Unfortunately, when it comes to Libya we're failing that test."

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Reacting to the nuclear meltdown crisis playing out in Japan, House Speaker John Boehner told an audience at a job creation forum Wednesday that the United States should and will learn lessons from the tragedy. But in the meantime, the country should aim to increase its reliance on nuclear energy -- much like France.

"I don't think there's any question that there are a lot of lessons to be learned by what's happening in Japan, and there's no question we will learn from that," Boehner said.

But there are nuclear reactors operating all over the world. Eighty-two percent of the electricity produced in France comes from nuclear sources, and has done so successfully for decades. Only 20 percent of the electricity in the United States comes from nuclear sources.

So I think let's learn the lessons, let's understand what safeguards if any additional safeguards need to be put in place. But let's not just say like we have for the last 30 years, we're not even going to look at it because we're afraid of it.

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Following the pitched political battles over public employee union rights in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere, another state's fight over finances is heating up. In Michigan, new Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has just passed a bill through the legislature to allow state-appointed financial managers to void municipalities' union contracts.

As the Macomb Daily Tribune reports, the bill has been described by Republican state Sen. Jack Brandenburg, a supporter, as "financial martial law" for localities where finances have gone out of control: "He [an emergency financial manager] has to have the backbone, he has to have the power, to null and void a contract."

Protests in opposition to the measure still don't seem to have reached Madison levels -- that is, the tens of thousands who turned out in Wisconsin -- but there certainly remains the potential that some of Snyder's tougher measures could trigger a backlash.

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Haley Barbour is the latest possible 2012 candidate to question America's presence in Afghanistan, asking a crowd in Iowa on Tuesday night: "What is our mission? How many Al Qaeda are in Afghanistan. ... Is that a 100,000-man Army mission?"

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Reflecting on Tuesday's House passage of stopgap legislation to keep the government open for three weeks, House Speaker John Boehner suggested that the path to keeping the federal government running over the long term will require a compromise with Democrats -- an acknowledgment that won't sit well with conservatives in his party.

At a Wednesday job creation forum hosted by the Republican leadership, I asked Boehner whether Democrats have a point when they note that he needs their votes to fund the government. His first reaction since the vote revealed his bind, and suggests he's not throwing in his lot with the Tea Party. "Let me remind you that Republicans control one-half of one-third of our government," Boehner said. "It's never been lost on me that because we only control the House there are a lot of other players that we need to work with in order to come to any agreement to keep the government open. But I'm confident that we'll be able to find a way to cut spending -- which we believe will lead to a better environment for business to hire people in America -- and keep the government open."

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Just two months ago, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) looked vulnerable to defeat heading into 2012. But now, amid a state-level showdown over union rights that has energized voters and sent Republican Gov. John Kasich's approval rating into a tailspin, a new PPP poll of registered voters finds Brown suddenly dominating a slate of potential Republican challengers.

In December, polls showed Brown in a precarious position, barely leading relatively unknown Republicans in hypothetical 2012 contests. But in the latest survey, Brown has suddenly shot ahead of his GOP rivals, such that he now leads each of them by double-digit margins; his lead over one challenger exploded from a miniscule 2 points in December to 19 in the latest poll.

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