TPM News

The Democratic Governors Association is going after Bill McCollum, the likely GOP nominee in the race for Florida governor, in the wake of TPMmuckraker's report that the Republican Governors Association got a $200,000 from accused fraudster Scott Rothstein.

"Bill McCollum is spending the week with RGA leadership at their annual fundraiser - in fact, this is the same fundraiser where Rothstein contributed his $200K last year," said DGA communications director Emily DeRose in a statement. "McCollum has two choices: Will he ask the RGA to return the fraudulent money, or will he thank them for using it to boost his chances in Florida?"

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The latest absentee ballot totals show Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) holding on to his lead over Conservative Party opponent Doug Hoffman in the recent special election, the Watertown Daily Times reports.

With about 40% of the total absentee ballots counted, Owens leads by 2,832 votes, with only 4,262 absentees left to be opened up by the various counties. If Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava were to keep up her current percentage of 21% the absentees -- she dropped out of the race the weekend before the election, after most absentees had been mailed in -- then Hoffman would need to win 3,099 out of the remaining pile.

Hoffman conceded on election night, when he was apparently down by 5,000 votes, and Owens was sworn in that Friday. However, corrections of clerical errors revealed that Owens had only won the election day total by about 3,000 votes -- and Hoffman recently said he would take back his concession if it were possible.

The absentee count shows that Hoffman is making some minor headway with these votes, but the likelihood of him actually catching Owens is shrinking by the day -- and it was quite small to begin with.

Late Update: "I'm never gonna rule out a win, but as I've said from the start, there's a very small shot," Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan just told us. "And we will see, we'll make a decision as we get near the end of the week, how to proceed."

In an interview with CNN from China, President Obama said he hopes to have troops out of Afghanistan before his presidency is over, so his successor can start with a "clean slate."

"Do you think you'll be able to get most U.S. troops home by the end of your presidency or will it be something you hand off to the next president?" asked Ed Henry.

"My preference would be not to hand off anything to the next president. One of the things I'd like is for the next President to come in and say, 'I've got a clean slate and I can put my vision forward,'" Obama said.

He added that he is "very close" to a strategy for the war in Afghanistan and will announce it in the next several weeks.

Video after the jump.

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Democratic leadership has distributed figures to reporters from a CBO analysis of Senate health care legislation. The numbers affirm what we reported this morning--that Majority Leader Harry Reid is very pleased.

The health care bill--which includes an opt-out public option--will require $849 billion over 10 years in new spending, to be paid for with cuts to Medicare, while reducing the deficit by $127 billion.

In that time it will extend coverage to 31 million Americans--94 percent of citizens will be covered by 2019.

Over the second 10 years, CBO projects even greater cost savings--up to $650 billion, with the caveat that after 10 years, their analyses become highly uncertain.

This meets all of President Obama's goals, and, as has been the pattern during this legislative process, the Senate bill comes at a lower cost, and with greater cost-savings than the House bill, while the House bill covers more Americans.

On CNN a moment ago, Dana Bash reported that the Congressional Budget Office has given the Senate health care reform bill has an estimated $849 billion price tag.

Bash cited a "senior Democratic source" for this information.

The source also said the bill would reduce the deficit by $127 billion dollars, Bash reported.

The bill also reportedly includes a public health insurance option with an opt-out clause.

A group of retired Generals led by former Maine Rep. Tom Andrews (D) accused the House GOP leader John Boehner of putting politics before national security today with his plan to force a vote on a bill that would prevent prisoners from being transferred from Guantanamo Bay to the United States.

The National Campaign To Close Guantanamo called Republican arguments that transferring Gitmo detainees to New York will endanger Americans "fear mongering." In a statement, Andrews pointed to past terror trials in the U.S. as evidence of his claim that the GOP is making political hay in the days since Attorney General Eric Holder announced that terror suspects will be tried in the U.S..

"Since 2001, 195 terrorists have been tried, convicted and locked up in federal supermax prisons on US soil under the Bush and Cheney administration," Andrews said. Boehner and other GOP leaders "never uttered a word of concern and opposition " back then, he continued, "but now that a Democratic President is doing it, the sky is going to fall and America will soon be under attack."

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Former staff members of the Washington Blade, the 40-year-old gay newspaper that was closed without warning Monday, are keeping their vow to keep publishing, promising an issue this Friday.

Erstwhile Blade editor Kevin Naff and publisher Lynne Brown launched a web site,, to both raise money and publish their new, still nameless venture online. According to the site, the staff -- who are working as volunteers -- plan to put out a "modest" issue this Friday.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is now defending his former presidential campaign staffers from attacks by his ex-running mate, Sarah Palin.

"There's been a lot of dust flying around in the last few days and I just wanted to mention that I have the highest regard for Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace and the rest of the team ... and I appreciated all the hard work and everything they did to help the campaign," McCain told Reuters.

He added: "I think it's just time to move on."

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November 18: As a wrap-up to President Obama's China trip, he went north to visit the Great Wall of China. Here, he's pictured walking the Badaling section of the wall.

Newscom/Zuma Wire

November 18: All smiles on top of the wall.

Newscom/Zuma Wire

Newscom/Zuma Wire

Newscom/Zuma Wire

November 18: And after Obama left, it was on to South Korea.

Newscom/PTS Photos/Zhang Duo

Every time the Republicans said the $787 economic stimulus plan didn't create jobs, the Obama administration was ready with a counterargument proving them wrong. That's one reason the self-inflicted problems of inaccurate reports at sting.

The administration says it's a non-story, since the errors were about data entry, and the data entry only happened because they have tried to make the spending as transparent and real-time as possible.

Officials pointed us to today's AP Fact Check on so-called phantom districts, and said they are correcting "rough" data that is less than one percent of the total that's been posted at

But this afternoon came the latest, when ABC News obtained a report from the Government Accountability Office showing "more than 50,000 jobs or one out of every 10 jobs the White House says were 'saved or created' by their economic stimulus plan came from projects that reported spending no money."

ABC reported that GAO says there are a "range of significant reporting and processing problems that need to be addressed."

It may not be fair, but the Republicans are having a field day.

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