TPM News

The new Rasmussen poll of Arizona has Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the 2008 Republican nominee for president, with only a single-digit lead over his challenger in the Republican primary, former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth, and the incumbent McCain is under 50% support.

The numbers: McCain 48%, Hayworth 41%, with a ±4% margin of error. McCain had a much better lead of 53%-31% two months ago, shortly after the announcement that his former running mate Sarah Palin would come to Arizona to campaign for him. Back in November, when Hayworth was first making moves to get into the race, McCain had a statistically insignificant lead of 45%-43%.

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Master Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff was badly beaten in prison late last year, according to a new Wall Street Journal story citing jailhouse sources.

According to the Journal, Madoff, who is serving 150 years for his massive fraud, was assaulted by a man in a dispute over money. An inmate at the prison in Butner, NC, told the paper that Madoff was treated for a "broken nose, fractured ribs and cuts to his head and face."

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GOP House And Senate Team Targets Democrats Roll Call reports that House and Senate Republicans have worked closely together across both chambers, to target Democrats on the health care bill. "This is a vast improvement over several years ago, when in the fall of 2006, Republican House Members were literally running against Republican Senators over the immigration issue," said Senate GOP Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN). "So that's a dramatic change from four years ago when we were deeply divided. Institutionally we don't really mesh easily."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive his daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET. He will sigh the HIRE Act, commonly known as the jobs bill, at 11:20 a.m. ET in the Rose Garden. He will meet with senior advisers at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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A press release issued today by the Clinton Foundation Press Office announced that Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will travel to Haiti on March 22. Here is the full release:

On Monday, March 22, President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush will travel to Haiti on behalf of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF).

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Earlier today, we told you about Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ), who said on MSNBC this morning that he would support "forcing private insurance companies to compete," alluding to a public option. The Republican congressman even went so far as to say that he would support single-payer health care.

We contacted his office for clarification. His spokeswoman, Nicole Philbin, emailed over a statement that confirms Shadegg would indeed support a public option.

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More national progressive groups, including NOW and Blue America PAC, have signed on to help former county commissioner Connie Saltonstall in her insurgent bid to beat Rep. Bart Stupak in Michigan's 1st District Democratic primary. Democracy for America is about to get in, too, according to a spokesperson.

It's not yet clear how real the effort will turn out to be. But the national coalition to primary Stupak is certainly building, and Stupak's wife told me today her husband will be ready for it.

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Signs point to a done deal, and the White House says health care reform will soon be the law of the land. But the Democrats are, well, Democrats. The long slog toward passing a final health care bill has been met with potholes and partisan shenanigans. Deadlines came and went.

Confident Democratic leaders say they are nearing the end, and Republicans are resigned to the idea that the bill will pass and that their focus will soon turn toward campaigning against it. But that's not to say it's over yet. From gambling on a favorable ruling from the Senate parliamentarian to last-ditch messaging successes on the Republican side that gums up the expected House vote, there are plenty of potential pitfalls. We've given it some thought, and while these things are unlikely, here are the top five things that could go wrong between now and President Obama penning his signature on a health care bill.

I posed the question to several members today on Capitol Hill, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) summed it up. I asked, "Could something go wrong in the next week?" Blumenauer lauged: "This is Congress. You answered your own question."

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- already a major force in fighting the Obama administration's big-ticket domestic agenda items -- is set to play an out-sized role in this fall's midterms.

The business lobby plans to spend at least $50 million in a bid to sway around 10 Senate up to 40 House races on behalf of "pro-business" candidates, primarily Republicans, reports the Washington Post. To do so, it has built a grassroots machine, Friends of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with a member list of 6 million names. The effort is based in part on the much-praised field operation for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

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March 17, 2010: Capitol Hill will join today in nationwide celebrations of St. Patrick's Day, the yearly holiday commemorating Ireland's most famous patron saint. We take a look at pols celebrating the shamrock.

Here, Sen. Ted Kennedy, his wife, Joan Kennedy and their children attend the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 1980.


March 17, 1983: President Reagan, then-Speaker of the House Thomas 'Tip' O'Neill and then-House Minority Leader Robert Michel attend a luncheon in honor of St. Patrick's Day on Capitol Hill.


March 17, 1996: Pat Buchanan attends Chicago's south side St. Patrick's Day Parade.


March 17, 2000: President Clinton receives a bowl of shamrocks from Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on St. Patrick's Day at the White House.


March 17, 2003: Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then-Governor of New York George Pataki, former Mayor Edward Koch and then-Governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey attend New York City's 5th Avenue St. Patrick's Day Parade.


March 17, 2005: President George W. Bush and Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern walk through the U.S. Capitol Rotunda after a St. Patrick's Day Luncheon.


March 17, 2008: Then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton waves to supporters as she walks down the Boulevard of the Allies during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Pittsburgh.


March 17, 2008: Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern presents President George W. Bush with a bowl of shamrocks during a St. Patrick's Day reception in the East Room of the White House.


March 17, 2009: President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Brian Cowen of Ireland attend a St. Patrick's Day lunch hosted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in the Rayburn Building, U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

March 17, 2009: The fountain on the North Lawn of the White House runs green in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg