TPM News

The Justice Department's number 2 is stepping aside.

Deputy Attorney General David Ogden will leave DOJ in February 2010 to return to private practice at Wilmer Hale, the department has announced.

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The new survey of Delaware by Public Policy Polling (D) shows Republican Congressman Mike Castle ahead in the 2010 race for Vice President Biden's former Senate seat, against likely Dem candidate (and Biden son) state Attorney General Beau Biden -- but not by much.

The numbers: Castle 45%, Biden 39%, with a ±4.1% margin of error. This is nearly the same as the last PPP survey of this race from way back in March, which put Castle ahead by 44%-36%.

From the pollster's analysis: "There had been some speculation about whether Castle's vote against the health care bill in the House last month would hurt his prospects but 46% of voters say they're opposed to the plan with only 43% in support, an indication that Castle may have actually been on the right side of public opinion on that particular issue."

Interestingly a poll from a few weeks ago by Republican firm Susquehanna put Biden ahead by 45%-40%. So we have the novel situation of a Dem pollster saying the Republican candidate is ahead, and a GOP pollster saying the Dem is ahead.

Last night, Stephen Colbert took President Obama to task for not showing enough pizazz in his big Afghanistan strategy speech on Tuesday night. Watch the video below.

"It's almost as if he's not super pumped to put 30,000 more young Americans in harm's way," Colbert said.

Colbert also picked up on a theme being spread by conservative pundits -- that Obama didn't use the word "victory" or "win" in his speech. "How will the troops know what to do if Obama doesn't say win? They might think we should lose or draw!"

Watch the video:

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took direct aim at Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)--ranking member on the Budget Committee--for authoring a detailed memo advising Republicans on the procedural tricks they can use to delay health care legislation.

"[T]he Republican plan we've waited weeks and months to see [is] not even about health care at all," Reid said on the Senate floor this morning. "The first and only plan Senate Republicans could be bothered to draft is an instruction manual on how to bring the Senate to a screeching halt."

"The Senate might be interested to learn that the architect behind this blueprint is none other than the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, the senior Senator from New Hampshire," Reid said. "It's worth noting that this Senator - who, more than any other, often speaks publicly about how to properly use citizens' tax dollars - has now signed his name to a plan with the explicit goal of wasting the taxpayer's time and money."

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Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reacted this morning to reports that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said he would push to subpoena White House social secretary Desiree Rogers over last week's infamous party-crashing incident, saying that "we'd be happy to look at it."

He said there is a history of White House staff being able to advise the president confidentially with the few exceptions of Watergate, 9/11 and Whitewater.

"I don't think even Peter King would have the audacity to in some way put the Salahis in the trifecta of Watergate, 9/11 or some of the financial dealings," he said.

Late Update: King responds to the Gibbs dig:

"The only audacity I had was 'the audacity of hope' that the White House would be honest. Unfortunately, they are more interested in covering up and stonewalling."

That non-aggression pact that Nevada senators Harry Reid and John Ensign have long maintained could be breaking down -- under the strain of the Republican's personal woes.

Ensign is pulling out all the stops to hold onto his job in the wake of admitting to an affair with the wife of a top aide. And that evidently means coming close to ditching the agreement that he and Reid, a Democrat, have long held to, wherein they avoid criticizing each other.

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Gen. David Petraeus appeared on CNN last night to discuss President Obama's new Afghanistan strategy -- announced in a speech Tuesday night -- and called it "realistic" and "reassuring." Watch the video below.

CNN's Anderson Cooper asked "what kind of message is sent to our enemy" by the 2011 drawdown date for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and what to say to those who believe the Taliban will simply wait the American presence out.

"If you go back to the words of the speech -- what that said is that's when you start to transition," Petraeus responded. "And I think that's a realistic goal to have out there, with 18 months more of quite substantial forces on the ground...that's when we begin to transition to Afghan security forces. It doesn't mean that's when we head for the door."

Watch the video after the jump.

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The Senate has been "debating" health care reform legislation for days now, but so far it's basically amounted to a series of boring speeches. Today, after breaking through the GOP's first obstructive hurdle, Democrats will hold votes on a handful of amendments, including two authored by Republicans.

One of those Republican amendments--authored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)--is actually a motion to send the bill back to the Finance Committee, and strip it of billions in Medicare savings. If it passed, it would likely kill the bill. As such, it's expected to fail, but receive overwhelming support from the Republican side of the aisle. In fact, it's probably fair to use the vote on the McCain motion as a proxy for the GOP's role in the entire debate, so keep an eye on which Republicans vote against it.

But just because Democrats will make some headway today, it's not at all guaranteed that the Republicans will allow the legislative process to move smoothly from this point forward. Today's votes are being held on the basis of an agreement between parties that only applies to these amendments. Other senators could introduce their own, separate amendments today--Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has said he may unveil his Stupak-like abortion amendment this afternoon--but that doesn't mean they'll be brought up for a vote in short order.

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A new Rasmussen poll has Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) trailing all four Republican candidates in her 2010 re-election fight.

State Sen. Kim Hendren leads Lincoln by 46%-39%; State Senate Minority Leader Gilbert Baker is ahead by 47%-41%; businessman Curtis Coleman is ahead by 44%-40%; and businessman Tom Cox leads Lincoln by 43%-40%.

The pollster's analysis says that the state's opposition to the health care bill -- particularly the intense opposition -- is a factor: "Against all four Republicans, she leads by wide margins among those who favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. The senator even leads by a wide margin among those who Somewhat Oppose the legislation. But among those who Strongly Oppose the health care plan, Lincoln trails every potential Republican challenger by more than 50 percentage points."

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