TPM News

The woman who says she was once blindfolded, tied up, deposited in a creek and asked to worship 'Aqua Buddha' by an impetuous young Rand Paul now says the ad Democrats are using to highlight the incident in an attempt to tear down the Republican Paul in the Kentucky Senate race is "over the top" but essentially true.

Greg Sargent just interviewed the woman, who has remained anonymous since her tale of her and Paul's undergraduate years at Baylor University first appeared. She told him she's "disappointed" that Conway is making the tale "into a central issue," but said that fundamentally the story told in Conway's ad is accurate on the facts of the event, if not the intentions of Paul and his compatriot.

"The tone of [the narrator's] voice sounds more ominous than it actually was," she told Sargent. "The way the person is talking, it sounds like [Paul] is some kind of evil-worshipping person who's a little bit more threatening than perhaps he really is."

The woman again characterized the incident as "a hazing prank" and said her reasons for coming forward were not to paint Paul as nefarious, but as someone who may be more than he seems at first glance.

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In a debate with Democrat Chris Coons this morning, Delaware's Republican nominee for Senate, Christine O'Donnell, suggested the way she reads the Constitution, there's no ban on the government establishing or influencing organized religion.

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell said, according to the AP.

The question came as part of a discussion over science education in public schools. O'Donnell "criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine." She also seemed unclear about what's in the Constitution itself.

"You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?" she asked, when Coons brought up the fact that the very First Amendment to the Constitution "bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion."

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Alaska Senate candidates Scott McAdams (D) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) squared off last night (sans Republican nominee Joe Miller), and according to the Alaska Dispatch, both said they wouldn't drop out of the race to give the other a better shot of beating Miller.

"My name's on the ballot and it can't be removed," McAdams said, while Murkowski, who filed as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary to Miller, said: "We are winning and we are winning every day. My goal is to keep Joe Miller out of the U.S. Senate, and I am going to work very hard to do just that."

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When news broke last week that Illinois Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney's name had been misspelled as 'Rich Whitey' on some Chicago voting machines, election officials said that it was too late to fix the problem. But the ensuing embarrassment has turned out to be some kind of motivation, because The Associated Press now reports that "crews will work overtime to reprogram thousands of electronic voting machines."

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A new poll from PPP (D) shows Democrat Joe Sestak has closed a huge gap in the Pennsylvania Senate race and now runs one point ahead of Republican nominee Pat Toomey. The poll shows Sestak ahead 46-45.

In the last PPP poll of the race, conducted in mid-August, Toomey led 45-36. While much of the national attention has been focused elsewhere -- *cough* Delaware *cough* -- Sestak appears to have been slowly building on his surprise primary win to give Toomey a run for his money.

"Three things have happened in the last 2 months to move this race back to toss up status," the pollster writes. "Sestak has made up a large deficit with independents, he's consolidated his base, and Democratic interest in the election has picked up with election day moving closer."

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If constituent anger is any indication, the most truly offensive campaign ad this season comes from David Vitter featuring actors playing illegal immigrants, sneaking into the country to a welcoming parade and a big fat taxpayer check, thanks, supposedly, to the liberal politics of his opponent, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA)

A coalition of about two dozen high-profile religious and ethnic leaders in the state was so put off by the segment that they've asked Vitter in a letter and a petition to take it down and apologize.

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The voter integrity program that has come to be associated with the campaign of GOP Senate nominee Mark Kirk was launched by the Illinois Republican Party, working with a conservative political action committee and an anti-Obama birther, Mother Jones reported.

Sharon Meroni -- who according to Mother Jones blogs under the pseudonym "Chalice Jackson" -- launched a petition demanding Obama's resignation for "high crimes and misdemeanors." Reached on Monday, Meroni wouldn't answer TPMMuckraker's questions, referring any inquiries to another representative. "My role is to recruit, and that's it," she said.

She did, however, say that the proper person to speak with was Curt Conrad, who is listed online as the Executive Director, IL Republican State Committee. Conrad didn't return a message left for him on Monday.

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A federal judge in California yesterday said she was inclined to deny the government's request to continue enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell while it appeals her ruling that the policy is unconstitutional.

Judge Virginia Phillips, who last week ordered the military to stop enforcing the policy, issued a preliminary ruling against the government's request to stay her injunction while the Justice Department appeals to the Ninth Circuit. Her final ruling is expected today.

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Did you watch the debate between candidates for Governor of New York? Did you see the man with, uh, unique facial hair? Who wore gloves the whole time? That's Jimmy McMillan, candidate for the Rent Is 2 Damn High Party.

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The Justice Department's decision to file an amicus brief declaring that Islam is a religion is a "blessing," says one member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, which is fighting for its right to build a new mosque.

"The support we got today is a blessing," said Saleh Sbenaty, a longtime member of the Islamic center and a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, yesterday.

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