TPM News

Some Tea Partiers are expressing vocal opposition to the Supreme Court's recent ruling striking down the ban on corporate political spending -- a stance that puts them at odds with the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement.

Just hours after the court ruled last month, RNC chair Michael Steele praised the decision, calling it "an important step in the direction of restoring the First Amendment rights" of corporations.

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The Illinois Primary Results: Too Close To Call In Gubernatorial Races In the Illinois primaries for President Obama's former Senate seat, state Treasury Alexi Giannoulias and Rep. Mark Kirk won the Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively. In the gubernatorial primaries, incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn -- who succeeded to the office upon the impeachment and removal of Rod Blagojevich -- has claimed victory with a margin of less than 1% against state Comptroller Dan Hynes, though Hynes has not conceded defeat. In the Republican primary, state Sen. Bill Brady leads by just a few hundred votes over state Sen. Kirk Dillard -- and with only 20% of the vote in a multi-candidate field

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:15 a.m. ET. Obama will deliver remarks and take questions at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee Issues Conference, at 10 a.m. ET. Obama will meet with senior advisers at 11:15 a.m. ET. Obama and Biden will have lunch at 12:30 p.m. ET. Obama and Biden will meet at 2 p.m. ET with a bipartisan group of Governors, to discuss energy policy, and will lead a Cabinet-level exercise at 4 p.m. ET., to discuss preparedness and crisis response.

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For the first time since the Massachusetts special election last month, Democratic leaders in Congress have signaled an agreement in principle on a way to finally pass health care reform, despite the loss of their filibuster-breaking 60th vote in the Senate. However, though both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appear to have settled on an overall framework, they have backed off a timeline for reaching a workable solution as they resolve some outstanding procedural issues.

Emerging from a meeting with Pelosi yesterday, Reid acknowledged that the most likely scenario for passing reform is what has come to be known as Plan B: Congress would preemptively pass an amending bill through the 51-vote budget reconciliation process, allowing the House to adopt the Senate bill word for word.

"That seems like a strong possibility," Reid said.

That puts him in agreement with House leaders, who say they can't pass the Senate bill until the reconciliation process is completely wrapped up.

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The battle of the billionaires in the California Republican gubernatorial primary was turning into a bit of snooze. But suddenly, out of the blue, the race has become replete with racists and calls to the FBI alleging illegal campaign tactics.

Billionaire former tech company executive Steve Poizner has been trailing in the polls to billionaire former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman. Both candidates have more than enough money to pay for a top-notch campaign out of their own pockets. So it was maybe a bit ironic that Poizner held a press conference yesterday to accuse Whitman of, among other things, threatening to leverage her fortune to "destroy him" if he doesn't agree to drop out of the race. Poizner waved an email from celebrity pundit and Whitman adviser Mike Murphy he said proved the plot. He's handed over the evidence to law enforcement. On Tuesday an FBI spokesperson told me, "I'm not touching that" when asked for comment on the situation. That came a day after Murphy wondered in the press if Poizner had literally gone crazy.

We should have known this would happen -- ain't no party like a West Coast party, as a wise man once said.

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Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) will officially launch his Senate campaign, in which he is challenging 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain in the GOP primary, on February 15.

Hayworth was first elected to Congress in the big Republican year of 1994, and was ultimately defeated in the big Democratic year of 2006. Since then, he's spent time as a right-wing talk radio host in Arizona, and is ready to challenge McCain from the right.

"2010 is the Second Great American Revolution - or if you prefer - the Second American Restoration," Hayworth says on his Web site. "It's people like you who will make it actually happen!"

At a town hall in New Hampshire this afternoon, President Obama tried to give a little friendly recession spending advice, telling people they shouldn't "blow a bunch of cash in Vegas" when comparing the federal budget to a family budget.

"This isn't how responsible families do their budgets. When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. And it's time your government did the same," he said.

He may not have expected just how quickly Nevada politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, would react.

Reid (D-NV) shot off a statement telling Obama to "lay off" Las Vegas.

"I just spoke to the White House and told them that while the President is correct that people saving for college need to be fiscally responsible, the President needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn't be spending their money," Reid said. "I would much rather tourists and business travelers spend their money in Las Vegas than spend it overseas."

Other politicians piled on.

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters today that Democrats are waiting on a way forward becoming "clear" before they set a new deadline for passing health care reform. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier today the ball is in the Senate's court.

But Hoyer (D-MD) last week told reporters during his press briefing that he expected a decision by this Friday, a deadline reporters reminded him of today.

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Jenny Sanford, the estranged wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, told Barbara Walters in an ABC interview that her husband insisted they take the fidelity clause out of their marriage vows.

"It bothered me to some extent, but ... we were very young, we were in love," she said. "I questioned it, but I got past it ... along with other doubts that I had."

She called the marriage a "leap of faith."

The interview will be aired this Friday on 20/20, the day her book is set to be released. She announced she was filing for divorce in December.

Mark Sanford was embroiled in a scandal last year after he admitted to visiting a lover in Argentina, after he disappeared from the state and telling his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

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The new Rasmussen poll of Texas finds incumbent Gov. Rick Perry continuing to lead Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican gubernatorial primary. However, the leader in that race could end up remaining under 50 percent, and thus face a runoff, thanks to significant support for a third candidate.

The numbers: Perry 44%, Hutchison 29%, and Debra Medina, a nurse and conservative activist, at 16%. Two weeks ago, Perry was ahead by 43%-33%-12%. The pollster's analysis points out just how daunting the math is for Hutchison at this point: "Turnout is often difficult to project for primaries. However, for Hutchison to win with the current attitudes, she would need more than 50% of the primary voters to be politically moderate."

Hutchison pointed out recently that this race could be headed to a runoff. At the rate things are going, that could very well happen, which would extend the race from the March 2 primary all the way to the April 13 runoff. A big question is whether Medina can continue to have a high level of support -- and if Hutchison can stop her own political bleeding.

The public option already died once. Today it died again.

House progressives have been trying to use the health care stalemate to revive the public option. Almost 100 have signed a letter urging Congressional leaders to include a public option in a separate bill, which could in theory pass the Senate with a simple majority of votes. If that happened--a big if--it could then be included as part of comprehensive legislation, securing progressives a major victory. But on a conference call today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put a second set of nails in the public option's coffin, saying it would not be part of any grand bargain to push ahead with health reform. But in so doing, she took a veiled swipe at the White House for not standing enthusiastically behind the proposal.

"The Senate never supported the public option," Pelosi said.

There was talk that there would be 51 votes for it, but it never passed on the floor of the Senate. It did pass in the House and, of course, I think it would be the way to go. But it isn't the way that the Senate went. And so I think that what you might see coming out of some reconciliation would be those areas of agreement that all three--the White House, the Senate and the House--had already agreed to...more than two weeks ago.

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