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Lost in the tax cut dust House Minority Leader John Boehner kicked up Sunday is the fact that a number of Democrats have recently been open to the idea of a grand bargain on the Bush tax cuts: A brief extension of the cuts for top earners paired with a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the middle class. One of those Democrats is DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen.

"If [Republicans] were to come back and say, 'hey, let's just do one year for the top 2 percent, and permanent for the middle class,' that would be something that obviously people would have to think about," Van Hollen said in an interview with Bloomberg this past weekend.

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Today, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will be holding its national conference at the National Press Club in D.C. As we told you yesterday, the conservative-dominated Commission is under fire from civil rights organizations for ignoring important issues, and many organizations wouldn't be attending the conference at all.

Late yesterday, Commissioner Michael Yaki, who was appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), issued a statement slamming the conservatives on the commission for keeping him and two other commissioners out of the planning of the conference, which he called "woefully short on civil rights."

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The new Quinnipiac poll of the Connecticut Senate race shows Republican former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon seriously closing the gap against Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

The numbers: Blumenthal 51%, McMahon 45%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3.3% margin of error. In the survey from early August -- which used a wider pool of registered voters -- Blumenthal led by 50%-40%. The TPM Poll Average shows Blumenthal leading by 50.3%-43.0%.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Bringing The Smackdown: Linda McMahon's Campaign For Senate, And Her Colorful Pro-Wrestling Past]

Interestingly, the poll shows that Blumenthal's personal rating remains high at 55%-39%, and he has a 70%-26% approval rating as state Attorney General.

"For Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, an elected official with a 70 percent approval rating, this race is surprisingly close. It is not that voters are wild about McMahon; her favorability rating is tepid. And many of her supporters are more anti-Blumenthal," writes Quinnipiac polling director Dr. Douglas Schwartz. "The question is whether Linda McMahon can ride the anti-establishment, anti-Democratic wave to victory in blue Connecticut, a state that hasn't voted for a Republican for Senator since Lowell Weicker in 1982."

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Big Primaries Today Today is the last big primary day of the 2010 cycle, with major Senate and gubernatorial primaries in Delaware, New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin, plus other races in Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET. Obama will meet at 10:30 a.m. ET with senior advisers. Obama will depart from the White House at 11:30 a.m. ET, and depart from Andrews Air Force Base at 11:45 a.m. ET, arriving at 12:30 p.m. ET in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 1 p.m. ET, he will deliver his second annual Back-to-School Speech. He will depart from Philadelphia at 2 p.m. ET, arriving back at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:40 p.m. ET, and at the White House at 2:55 p.m. ET.

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Republicans are widely expected to make significant gains this November, possibly, perhaps even probably, taking back control of the House of Representatives. This is to be expected to some extent, as the Democrats enjoyed two big wave elections in 2006 and 2008, and many of those House members won't be coming back. But there are some other Dems, who in many other cycles would be safe bets to be reelected, that have unexpectedly ended up in tough races after longer tenures in Congress.


The House members we're talking about are folks who have been easily re-elected in past cycles, often without significant opposition, in districts that were leaning Republican in other ways, such as in the presidential vote. But in a year where the GOP has the wind at their backs, these Dems are now being aggressively targeted, and facing tough races.

"You always have some Congressmen who have been shaky," said Professor Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia, in an interview with TPM. "You think of John Spratt. Look at his district, where it is in South Carolina, he's never really that safe. Ike Skelton [of Missouri] -- they're just never that safe. They get a lot of passes, and their incumbency and their chairmanships help them. But every now and then the sun and the moon and the stars align just right and they're in trouble. It doesn't mean they'll lose, but they'll have close and competitive races, anyway."

So let's take a look at some of the Dems who have been in Congress for awhile -- and somewhat surprisingly, will have to work hard this year to stay there. This list is not exhaustive of all suddenly-vulnerable Dems, nor is it meant to imply that all or even any of them are guaranteed to lose. But it does give a sense of the current hostile environment and lack of Democratic enthusiasm -- especially as it spreads to districts that have been becoming more Republican underneath their occupants' feet.

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Bill O'Reilly spends a big chunk of time in his new book "Pinheads and Patriots" analyzing which moments so far in Barack Obama's presidency have been "pinhead" moments, and which have been "patriot" moments.

The "Pinheads and Patriots" label may be familiar to some Fox News viewers -- it's the name of a long-standing segment on The O'Reilly Factor, and the Harvard-educated Fox News host seems to have brought the same witticisms and insights to the book that viewers have come to expect from his show.

O'Reilly is certain that one particularly "pinhead"-ish moment was when the White House declared war on Fox News last fall, and that "the declaration of war from the White House came as a complete surprise to those of us who toil at FNC. You know, it was kind of like a symbolic Pearl Harbor."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: This Means War! White House Takes On Fox News]

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This year's Senate elections are widely expected to produce substantial Republican gains in the Senate, producing a much less Democratic chamber come January. But in fact, some races present the possibility of the GOP making gains almost immediately, with the winners (of whatever party) sworn in soon after the election.

The reason is simple: These are special elections, with current incumbent members who were appointed to fill vacancies. (Only one sitting member in these seats, Dem Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, is seeking election -- the others are open seats). Just as the upset win of Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in this past January's special election enabled the GOP to immediately improve from 40 seats to 41 -- and change the entire dynamic of the Senate -- any additional GOP members from a few key states could immediately strengthen the GOP for the lame duck session between the election and January.

Indeed, at least two candidates, Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois and Republican Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, have expressly campaigned on the prospect of taking office immediately. While it remains unclear just how much Democrats would be able to do in a lame-duck session that they couldn't do now -- after all, Republicans would be able to filibuster any major policy changes until January already, regardless of how many new Republican senators are seated right after the election -- it nevertheless has lingered as a political issue.

So let's take a look at these races.

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FreedomWorks, the big daddy of the tea party-sponsoring organizations, is the latest to make an attempt at shedding the movement's all-white image. The group recently announced DiverseTea, a targeted advertising and outreach campaign aimed at extending the tea party's reach into minority communities. After a summer of attacks on the tea party (most notably from the NAACP, which accused the tea party movement of harboring racist elements -- a criticism tea partiers reject out of hand), FreedomWorks is the latest to get on the diversity train.

"We do need to reach out," FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe told me at a meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor Monday. Kibbe said the new initiative will "build a platform" for tea party leaders from across the spectrum, including "African Americans, Jews, Hispanics," and others. Kibbe said that though it's important the group reach out, the talk of diversifying the tea party is more about changing the perception of the movement rather than the reality.

"There is this nagging perception that we are not diverse, and I disagree with that," he said. Kibbe told me after the meeting that the plethora of diverse voices on stage at rallies like Sunday's 9/12 meeting in Washington (where a virtually all-white crowd was regaled by numerous African American and Latino speakers) was part of a concerted effort to show minorities that they're welcome at tea party events.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Tea Partiers Storm DC For Second (And Smaller) 9/12 Rally]

FreedomWorks chair Dick Armey -- the former congressman and bombastic public face of the organization -- was a bit more grumpy when it came to discussing the racial makeup of tea party crowds.

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The Democratic National Committee today is going on television with a second ad pushing general election themes you'll see this November, attempting to define Minority Leader John Boehner as lobbyist-friendly.

"He wants to be Speaker, but we all know who John Boehner really speaks for," the narrator states as the screen flashes: "John Boehner: A Speaker for Big-Time Lobbyists."

The citations in the ad are from this yesterday's New York Times story suggesting Boehner is tight with lobbyists. Boehner's office strongly pushed back on the piece, which ran over the weekend.

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