TPM News

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), chairman of the House Republican Conference, today endorsed Marco Rubio, the conservative candidate challenging Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) for the Republican nomination for Senate.

Pence, who is rumored to have his own intention for higher (that is, Oval) office, said today that Rubio "will be a courageous check and balance on the current Washington establishment."

"Marco Rubio's faith in free markets, limited government and traditional moral values make him the right choice for Republicans in this race," Pence said in a statement.

About a year ago, President Obama kick started the health care debate by hosting a bipartisan summit designed to build momentum for what he hoped would be his signature domestic policy initiative. The March 5, 2009 meeting was marked by pleasantries, and engagement between Republicans and Democrats--and that figured. Republicans were facing a popular President, pushing a popular initiative, in the aftermath of a big victory on the stimulus bill.

Fast forward to February 2010, and a lot of people in Washington--liberals, Democrats, even some pundits--are asking a question: Why is President Obama wasting his time with yet another summit. After all, he tried this a year ago and...well, just look how well that's paid off.

Times have changed, though. And now Democrats see an opportunity not so much for bipartisan co-operation, but for the President to magnify the differences between his own party, and the hell-bent-on-obstruction GOP. Whether they're right or wrong, though, the politics have simply changed. After a year of smears and bad faith, with Republicans locked into opposition, this month's summit simply won't be a redux of the same event.

Take Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)--ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee. Here's what he said to Obama at the time: "I think you served with us in the Senate long enough to know that Max Baucus and I have a pretty good record of working out bipartisan things."

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February 8, 2010: The New Orleans Saints won their first NFL title, defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. With the victory, the Louisiana city, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, rejoiced with its famed flamboyancy. New Orleans elected a new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, on Saturday. But that was easily overshadowed by the joy that overflowed on the streets Sunday night.



Above, Saints fans at the game celebrate the final outcome.

Newscom/Zumawire




One zealous fan leads a march of Saints fans down University Drive in Miami Gardens, FL, the site of the Super Bowl.

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Saints fans wear the popular team cheer outside the stadium.



Newscom/UPI




Roaring Saints fans march from the El Palacio Hotel to the Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.

Newscom/Zumasportswest




The celebrations on Bourbon Street.

Newscom/UPI




New Orleans erupts in celebration.

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Photo by Taylor Davidson






Photo by Taylor Davidson






Photo by Taylor Davidson






Photo by Taylor Davidson






Photo by Taylor Davidson






Photo by Taylor Davidson






Photo by Taylor Davidson






Photo by Taylor Davidson






Photo by Taylor Davidson

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), one of the co-sponsors of Rep. Paul Ryan's Social Security-slashing budget proposal, went on Fox today to advocate privatizing both Social Security and Medicare.

Blackburn never used the word "privatize." But her idea to change the entitlement programs so people have separate accounts with their money is privatization.

"We need to make sure that individuals get the money out that they have placed in," she said. "This is one of the reasons we have had the discussion over and over for our younger earners of having accounts that have their Social Security number and their information on it, so you have that personal account."

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Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) said on Fox News today that while John Brennan, President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, did brief him on Christmas Day about the handling of suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Bond maintained that he had no idea that Abdulmutallab would be read his rights.

"The administration's trying to pass the buck for dangerous decisions," Bond said. "Brennan did call me, as well as others. Never said that they were going to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber. I would have told him it was a serious mistake. As I'm sure that the DNI, director of national intelligence, Admiral Blair, and other leaders of the intelligence community would have told him because they said it was a major mistake."

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Notorious Republican political operative Roger Stone is getting involved in the New York gubernatorial race. But he's got nothing good to say about the Republican frontrunner in the race. No, Stone told me today, in one of the state's darkest hours New Yorkers should turn to the woman Eliot Spitzer called when he was feeling down -- convicted madam Kristin Davis.

Davis has said she was one of the madams Spitzer dealt with before he resigned from the governor's office in 2008. She spent four months in jail for her crimes and is still in probation. Now, Stone said she's got the platform to shake up the race for Spitzer's old job. He describes it as "pure libertarianism."

"Prostitution, marijuana, gay marriage and guns," Stone said, listing the things Davis would push to legalize if elected.

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Some of the business interests that had abandoned their traditional conservatism to flirt with the Obama agenda may now be shifting back towards the GOP -- another sign that the president's standing is badly weakened a year after taking office.

During 2008 and much of 2009, Obama enjoyed an unusual amount of support for a Democrat from the business community, much of which had grown disillusioned with President Bush and hoped for a return to the steady growth of the Clinton years. But after a string of political setbacks, high-lighted by Scott Brown's win last month in the Massachusetts Senate race, some key business groups and sectors appear to be shifting back to the GOP column.

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There's a key point in danger of being lost in all the he-said-he-said froth over what Congressional Republicans were told in the hours after the failed Christmas attack: none of the GOP leaders disputes that an Obama aide informed them that suspect Umar Abdulmutallab was being held in FBI custody.

The real dispute is over what flows from that fact. John Brennan, Obama's national security adviser, said on Meet The Press Sunday that he called four Republicans -- Sens. Mitch McConnell and Kit Bond and Reps. John Boehner and Pete Hoekstra -- the night of the attempted Christmas attack.

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