TPM News

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) may have thought he'd be the 2012 newsmaker of the day with his decision not to seek the presidency. But it turns out a man who's very much in the race, Mitt Romney, may have upstaged him with a gaffe about America's military stance.

On Monday morning, Romney told readers of the Manchester, NH Union-Leader in an op-ed that Americans are living in a "peacetime" economy.

Six hours later, in the wake of withering criticism from progressives and veterans, Team Romney said the turn of phrase was a mistake.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told ABC News on Monday that he would be open to reevaluating billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies that have enjoyed strong support from the GOP.

"It's certainly something we should be looking at," Boehner said. "We're in a time when the federal government's short on revenues. They ought to be paying their fair share."

Democrats have relentlessly attacked Republicans in recent months for supporting tax breaks and subsidies aimed at oil companies, contrasting the corporate aid with GOP proposals to drastically reduce long-term funding for Medicare and Medicaid. Boehner's small -- but significant -- step back from the traditional Republican position is a clear indicator that he senses political vulnerability as gas prices soar.

In addition to his new line on subsidies, Boehner went out of his way to take a dig at oil companies' profits in the interview.

"Everybody wants to go after the oil companies and, frankly, they've got some part of this to blame," he said, discussing rising oil prices.

Boehner cautioned that he wasn't ready to abandon support for subsidies just yet, saying he wanted to make sure he first studied "what impact this is going have on job creation here in America."

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The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a conservative organization fighting against the legalization of same-sex marriage, said Monday it would launch an "investigation" into the decision of the law firm King & Spalding to drop its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

"We will convene a panel of legal experts and ethicists to determine if any rules of professional conduct have been violated, or if the firm has acted illegally in reaching their decision," NOM President Brian Brown said in a statement posted on their website. "We already know they have violated the moral imperative of acting in good faith and fair dealing. If our review concludes that the firm has violated any statutes or rules of professional conduct, we will initiate the appropriate disciplinary complaints."

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When the Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding announced on April 18 that it would represent the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, it apparently didn't realize what a mess it had made for itself.

Exactly one week later, the firm reversed its decision, prompting a high-profile partner -- former Solicitor General Paul Clement -- to resign publicly, and House Speaker John Boehner's staff to issue a statement criticizing the firm for "its careless disregard for its responsibilities to the House in this constitutional matter."

As public relations debacles go, this was a doozy. But the firm must have calculated that the alternative would have been worse. In the intervening week, a series of public and behind-the-scenes developments made it clear that the firm would suffer recriminations for defending what many of its top clients and future recruits -- not to mention gay rights advocates -- consider to be an anti-gay law.

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The House's independent ethics office launched six new investigations of lawmakers' potential ethical misbehavior in this first quarter of the year.

The Office of Congressional Ethics released its end-of-quarter report Monday as required by law, noting that it had commenced six preliminary reviews and five secondary reviews of allegations already under investigation. It also voted to terminate one review.

The office does not release the names of lawmakers under scrutiny, but the name of one of the lawmakers, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), leaked earlier this year.

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The recount in the much-watched Wisconsin state Supreme Court race is set to begin on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

The recount will begin in all 72 counties at 9 a.m. Wednesday and under state law is to be completed by May 9. That tight timeline means the recounts may be conducted in some counties on weekends, said Mike Haas, an attorney for the Government Accountability Board.

The schedule was spelled out in a teleconference the accountability board held for county clerks. Nearly all of the 72 clerks participated, many of them with their staff and members of their local canvassing boards.

Liberal-backed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg formally requested the recount last week, with incumbent conservative Justice David Prosser ahead by 7,316 votes, or 0.488%. This is within the 0.5% margin that entitled Kloppenburg to request a recount at state and local government expense -- and followed the controversial announcement by the county clerk in heavily Republican Waukesha County that she had discovered un-tabulated votes that were not properly added to the county's database, putting Prosser ahead after trailing in the initial numbers.

Freshman Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), who picked up a seat for the Republicans in the 2010 wave, now has his first declared challenger, with former Wisconsin state Sen. Pat Kreitlow launching his campaign.

Kreitlow was elected to the state Senate in the Democratic wave of 2006, after a news broadcasting career in western Wisconsin, defeating a Republican incumbent. He then lost his race for re-election in 2010.

Duffy was elected to Wisconsin's 7th District in 2010, after having served as a district attorney (and earlier starring on MTV's The Real World), winning the seat that Democratic Rep. David Obey had held for over 40 years until his retirement.

Recently, Duffy was the subject of high profile embarrassment when he publicly stated at a local event that he was "struggling" on his Congressional salary of $174,000 per year. The local Republicans then attempted to pull the video from the Internet -- which then led to Duffy's office complaining about TPM's surviving excerpt, saying it was selectively edited. Eventually, Duffy admitted that his words were "poorly chosen."