TPM News

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) has announced that she will not resign from the Senate while she is running for governor of Texas, which she had previously planned on doing as she challenges incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary.

"A newly appointed senator would be selected in the midst of a political storm," Hutchison said in a statement that cited the battle against the Democrats on health care and energy legislation, "And will need on-the-job training in the midst of a crisis."

This comes after a Rasmussen poll today, which showed her trailing Perry by 46%-35% -- and which also showed that 60% of likely primary voters disagreed with her plans to resign. Perry had frequently been attacking Hutchison for the planned resignation, as well.

Although Hutchison had previously announced her intention to resign at some point, she is now spinning this new decision as herself bravely saying no to what others had told her to do: "Some have told me that for the sake of political expedience I should quit the Senate now to focus on winning the primary. To them I say, perhaps its time we elect a governor who puts a little less priority on what is politically expedient."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani weighed in on the Obama administration's decision to bring five 9/11 suspects, including self-proclaimed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to be tried in civilian court in New York City.

Such a decision is "dangerous" and "unnecessary," he said on Fox News, and warned that it would make the city even more prone to terrorist attacks.

The U.S. has tried terrorists in civilian court before. He claimed that subsequent attacks -- on American embassies in Africa, on the USS Cole, on the World Trade Center and, yes, on Fort Hood last week -- proved such trials don't work.

Video after the jump.

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A week that began with the ousting of three executives at the Washington Times and ended with the announcement that top editor John Solomon had resigned leaves three questions whose answers will determine the fate of the Times:

How will a newspaper that has never been a profit-making proposition survive in the current brutal media business climate? Will a family feud in the Unification Church, whose founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon created the Times, be resolved in a way auspicious for the future of the paper? And, finally, what will its ideological and journalistic identity be going forward?

Driving home the financial peril the paper finds itself in, today came the news that contributions to employee 401(k) accounts has been suspended. Times employees breathed a sigh of relief when their paychecks came through today.

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Former George W. Bush adviser Ed Gillespie has found a new Republican executive to guide behind the scenes -- Virginia's Governor-elect, Bob McDonnell.

Gillespie was McDonnell's campaign chair during the campaign, which ended in a McDonnell landslide on Nov. 3. He's now signed on to the McDonnell transition team as a "Senior Advisor."

Others on the list announced today by McDonnell's transition team include former GOP Representatives Tom Davis and Thelma Drake. Both left Virginia's congressional delegation in 2008. Current House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's wife, Diana, is also on the list. She is a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs and the founder of Virginia's independently-run College Savings Plan.

As co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) is leading the fight in the House to strip the Stupak amendment, which would forbid millions of women from buying comprehensive insurance policies that cover abortion, from the final health care bill. And she takes issue with Stupak's interpretation of the events leading up to the vote that completely changed the stakes of reform debate.

"Basically Congressman Stupak moved the goalposts, and I think it really took [House] Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] and other people by surprise," DeGette told me in an exclusive interview.

She says, after his abortion amendments went down in the House Energy and Commerce Committee (a panel on which she also sits), he demanded he get another crack at it when the Rules Committee set the contours of the floor debate.

"After we defeated him in committee," she said, "he said that he wanted to have an amendment in order on the floor... and that if he didn't have his amendment made in order then he had 40 people to vote against the rule."

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This isn't for the squeamish. It's about as hardball and brutal as it gets.

The liberal group CREDO Action will soon ask over 1,000,000 members to sign a petition condemning the Stupak amendment...and with each signature, CREDO will send a coat hanger to the 20 supposedly pro-choice members of Congress who voted for it.

"We know what happens when women are denied access to reproductive health care including abortion," the petition reads. "And we can't go back to an era of coat hangers and back alley abortions. Reconsider your vote on the Stupak Amendment. Tell House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the final health care bill that emerges from the conference committee can't turn the clock back on women's rights."

The email hasn't been sent yet, but you can read the language below the fold.

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With a new poll suggesting that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) could potentially lose her 2012 Republican primary to a conservative challenger, does the political environment in Maine mean that she could be in real danger from the right, or that she might have to become an independent or even a Democrat?

Snowe's office has not returned out requests for comment. We spoke to Mark Brewer, an associate political science professor at the University of Maine, for the opinion and perspective of a local expert.

"Certainly the numbers among Republicans are a little surprising. It is certainly the case that the Maine Republican Party has a pretty significant faction within it that is relatively conservative, that has for a decent amount of time now looked at Sen. Snowe somewhat skeptically, I guess -- and that's probably being charitable to a certain degree," said Brewer. "So the fact that there's anger within the Maine GOP at Snowe isn't surprising. The fact that the figure among the Republican primary figure, and the fact that there were 59%-31% in favor of a conservative challenge, that surprised me a little bit."

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With President Obama abroad, First Lady Michelle Obama is stepping in for a few days with a focus on health care.

At an event with women at the White House this afternoon, the first lady joined health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle. They showcased the stories of women whose families had suffered due to bad insurance and the Medicare "donut hole."

"These stories touch our hearts and they spark in us a fundamental source of unfairness," she said.

Obama said she can't say what the bill "that ultimately will cross my husband's desk will look like," but said it would be true reform.

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Just a few minutes ago, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey slammed his successor, Eric Holder, over Holder's decision to bring five terror suspects from Guantanamo Bay to New York to try them as planners of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"It shows a willingness to disclose how our intelligence process works and offer [the suspects] a platform in our legal system to gather intelligence for themselves," Mukasey said before an audience of conservative lawyers at the national Federalist Society's annual legal convention in Washington.

Holder's plan "creates a cornucopia of intelligence for those still at large and a circus for those being tried," Mukasey said.

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The local Tea Party organization in Danville, Virginia, is taking their opposition to freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello to a whole new level -- announcing that they will burn him in effigy, along with a similar image of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at a rally called "Fired Up For Freedom."

"At this point we feel we have no representation in Congress," Danville Tea Party chairman Nigel Coleman told the Chatham Star Tribune, with the chief complaint being Perriello's vote for the House health care bill this past weekend.

Perriello's office declined to comment to TPM about this.

Late Update: DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen has responded in a statement. "These shocking and despicable acts are becoming all too common at extreme right-wing Republican rallies. Hanging Members in effigy or displaying images of Nazi concentration camps on the steps of the Capitol have no place in any debate and Republican Members of Congress must condemn these actions," said Van Hollen. "While there should be a robust debate about reforming America's broken health insurance system, violent expressions are beyond the boundaries of a respectful debate. The American people are counting on Republicans to join Democrats in a constructive debate to help President Obama bring about urgently-needed health insurance reform."


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