TPM News

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is making more moves toward a possible run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, bringing on a strategist to head Santorum's PAC in New Hampshire.

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A British study linking autism to childhood vaccines was retracted some time ago, and yesterday it was outed by a British media journal BMJ as an "elaborate fraud" responsible for significant and long-lasting damage to public health. Enter Anderson Cooper and his "Keepin' Em Honest" segment last night in which he interviewed the doctor responsible for the allegedly fraudulent report, Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

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Republicans just took back control of the House and, at least right now, they're in a strong position to retake the Senate in two years, according to an analysis of the 2012 Senate field by political scientist Larry Sabato.

As Sabato points out, the Democratic caucus currently holds 23 of the 33 Senate seats that will be on the line in 2012, meaning they have much more to lose than the GOP. Democrats will have to play a lot more defense and hope for help in the form of a strong down ticket effect from President Obama.

Also worrisome for Democrats, Sabato rates seven of those seats, six of them now in Democratic hands, as toss ups. If those races split four to three in favor of Republicans, and the two parties hold the rest of their seats, Republicans would swing their current 53-47 Senate minority into a 50-50 tie.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who over the past year made himself into the Senate's most rabid opponent of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, has softened his tone and now says he'll do anything he can to help repeal go smoothly.

"I think I have to do everything I can to make sure that the [impact on the] morale, retention, recruitment and battle effectiveness of the military is minimized as much as possible," McCain said on Fox Business, according to The Hill.

"It is a law and I have to do whatever I can to help the men and women who are serving, particularly in combat, cope with this new situation," he said. "I will do everything I can to make it work."

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Members of the House of Representatives, led by their new Republican majority, will kick off the 112th Congress this morning with a reading of the U.S. Constitution. The reading is largely a political maneuver, so it's no real surprise that the Constitution you'll hear read on C-SPAN this morning will be the politically correct version.

It's fairly likely that no elected politician wants to stand up and read aloud the Founder's vision of African Americans as equaling three-fifths of a white person, so the GOP has decided to leave that part, and others, out when the Constitution is read today.

From The Daily Caller:

Instead of reading the Constitution in its entirety, House members will read an "amended version" that only includes the sections and amendments that were not changed at a later date. The decision in part will allow members to avoid reading less pleasant sections, like the clause in Article 1, Section 2, which counted black slaves as three-fifths of a person.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren Wednesday night on Fox News, and addressed the mounting buzz that she might run for president -- and she did not rule it out.

"I think that came up because I'm planning to do a series of speeches down in Iowa," Bachmann said. "And that's my home state, I was born in Iowa. But I'm planning to go down there and talk about why we need to have -- make sure that we repeal (sic) President Obama in 2012, just like today we had a repeal (sic) of Speaker Pelosi today in the House."

She also said that she is "not focused on my own personal ambitions," and brought out a bunch of charts on the issues of the national debt -- a sure sign from any politician that they are focused on their personal ambitions. Now, that ambition might be an actual run for president, or perhaps just teasing at one in order to keep in the spotlight. We'll find out in the months to come.

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Pursuant to the Democrat motion to force Republicans to publicly accept or reject health care, a Democratic source passed along the talking points Dems plan to use as Republicans begin to draw on their health care benefits.

Wednesday night, House Dems used a procedural maneuver to make Republicans vote on whether or not to publicly announce when they begin to draw on their government provided benefits. The Democrats plan to use that vote to highlight what they call the Republican hypocrisy of attempting to repeal health care reform while refusing to disclose if they are accepting health insurance.

Read the talking points below.

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After the 112th Congress convened yesterday, Jon Stewart celebrated his pick for the Senate's grumpiest member: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

"McCain's old-man crankiness has gone off the charts," Stewart said last night. "On the scale, he's clearly gone from a man of wisdom all the way to full Gran Torino."

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