TPM News

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel appeared on CNN's State of the Union this morning, and tried to lay at least a couple of the country's current problems at the feet of the Bush administration.

On the record $1.4 trillion federal budget deficit, Emanuel chastised Republicans for abandoning the pay-as-you-go "discipline of the 90s" while passing three tax cuts and a massive prescription drug bill. "That led to $5 trillion of red ink run up -- the biggest red ink run up in the shortest period of time in American history," Emanuel said. "Literally over half the nation's debt has accumulated in the last eight years."

Emanuel also seemed to criticize the Bush administration for its handling of the war in Afghanistan, saying that many of the questions of strategy and policy that President Obama is now asking are being asked for the first time.

Read More →

Obama Blasts Insurance Industry's 'Phony Studies' In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama denounced the insurance industry for producing its own commissioned studies against health care reform:

"It's smoke and mirrors. It's bogus. And it's all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, 'Take one of these, and call us in a decade.' Well, not this time," said Obama. "The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy - that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people."

GOP Address: American Public 'Isn't Buying' Dem Policies In this weekend's Republican address, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) attacked the Democrats on the issues of jobs, health care and the budget:

"There are three big myths hurtling around Washington these days: no jobs equals an economic recovery, government-run health care will make it more affordable, and deficits don't matter," said Brady. "The American public - to their credit - isn't buying any of these."

Read More →

The three candidates for Governor of New Jersey -- Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine, Republican Chris Christie, and independent Chris Daggett -- met for a debate tonight, with a lot of substantive discussion on the issues facing the state. In a race marked by bitter personal attacks, this debate for the most part featured arguments about the issues themselves.

An interesting pattern emerged that when candidates fought each other, in almost all cases it was between Christie and another one of the participants. While Corzine and Daggett stated different positions on various issues, for the most part they didn't take each other on directly. The real target of their attacks was Christie.

The most memorable exchange came when Daggett said to Christie: "I gotta buy you a calculator, Mr. Christie, because your numbers don't add up. They never add up. You have no plan, no plan at all." Daggett then said that he himself has a good plan on taxes and the budget, and he challenges anyone to come up with a better one that has real substance.

When it came time for Christie's turn, he shot back: "I'm more than happy to take Mr. Daggett's calculator. I'd like to give you a dictionary, because only you could take a $4 billion tax increase and call it a tax cut."

When Corzine's turn came again, he chimed in. "Let me agree with Mr. Daggett -- Mr. Christie doesn't seem to get the arithmetic right," said Corzine, citing as one example how Christie said people are leaving the state, when in fact the population is growing. "It's just misleading, talking down the state is not a great idea. In fact, we ought to have a positive view."

Some more highlights, after the jump.

Read More →

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds (D) just announced President Obama will campaign with him.

It's no surprise Obama would cross the Potomac for Deeds on the eve of such a critical election. The rally will be Tuesday, Oct. 27, one week before the election.

The White House has said Obama strongly supports Deeds and will do all he can to help him defeat Republican candidate Bob McDonnell. Obama activated his grassroots supporters from his Organizing for America campaign list earlier this week, asking them to volunteer this weekend.

Obama was last in Virginia for Deeds Aug. 7.

Deeds is behind in the polls and some Democrats are worried.

In his interview with TPMDC this afternoon, Terry McAuliffe pushed back on the national media's coverage of him in recent weeks, and media reports that Creigh Deeds is limping toward the finish line in the Virginia Governor's race.

In recent days, several articles have suggested McAuliffe and his supporters have strong opinions about how Deeds has run the race against Bob McDonnell (R). But McAuliffe rejected the idea that it was time to count Deeds out.

"I think a lot of journalists are going to look foolish when Creigh Deeds wins this election," he said.

Read More →

I covered the last two major races in Virginia, where Democrats were down and out until the last minute and then surged to win close victories. Given the gains Barack Obama made registering new voters and his wide margin last fall, I had been doubtful that all the hand-wringing over the bad polls for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds was warranted.

But after several recent chats with my sources there and speaking tonight with a well-informed and loyal Democratic fundraiser, I am starting to understand why some in the party are worried about the upcoming election.

This Northern Virginia Democrat has helped raise thousands of dollars for the Deeds campaign and has been personally involved in several races.

"It's almost like the Virginia version of the McCain campaign - an ugly primary and then a mismatch of people thrown into one ship," the source said.

Read More →

During his campaign, President Obama promised he would visit New Orleans during his first year in office. On Oct. 15, he followed through with his promise with a visit to a charter school in the Lower Ninth Ward and a town hall at the University of New Orleans.

Newscom/UPI Photos

The President meets the crowd at the University of New Orleans.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

At Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School in the Lower Ninth Ward, Obama exhorts students to work hard at school. "I'll be back to check on you," he said.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Obama was greeted in the cafeteria by the school band's rendition of "Hail to the Chief." They had been practicing since Sunday, when the band found out the President was visiting.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Fourth-grader Tyren Scott, pictured here in the turquoise sweater, asks the President, "Why do people hate you? They're supposed to love you. God is love."

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

It seemed there was plenty of love to go around at the town hall, though there were contentious moments. One questioner asked why New Oreleanians are "still fighting" with the federal government; another demanded to know how Obama will reform immigration law.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

A few hours after TPMDC detailed Connecticut Democrats using racy World Wrestling Entertainment scenes against GOP candidate Linda McMahon, WWE had YouTube remove the videos.

Connecticut political blog My Left Nutmeg caught their removal, but the Democrats mashed up the most eye-popping (and not-safe-for-work-or-children) scenes with voiceover of McMahon talking about how "PG" and "fun" WWE is. She's the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and wife of WWE principal Vince McMahon.

It's worth noting that WWE only removed a handful of videos, not the more than 500,000 that exist on YouTube. I've asked folks in their corporate headquarters for more information, and will update when they respond.

Also, a source points out that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who McMahon hopes to defeat in 2010, has taken more than $922,000 from the TV and movie industry, according to OpenSecrets. The source wonders if Dodd condones violence and sex depicted on film.

Late update: WWE's VP of PR and corporate communications got back to me just now, saying accusations the removal had anything to do with politics are false.

"It's an ongoing battle with online piracy," Robert Zimmerman told TPMDC. "It's copyrighted material, it's our intellectual property."

He said they "scour" the Internet for their videos and said they go after all of them, not just ones used for political purposes.

"We would love to be able to take everything down," he said. "It's WWE content and if we own it we are asking them to take it down."

Suhail Khan has seen this happen before. He was working as a senior political appointee for the Bush White House through Sept. 11, 2001, until this past January.

The same crowd of what he calls "professional bigots" -- people, he says, like Frank Gaffney and Dave Gaubatz -- have launched campaigns against specific Muslims working in the government, accusing them of terrorist sympathies.

The only thing different about the call by four House Republicans this week for authorities to investigate alleged "infiltration" of the Hill by Muslim interns, Khan told TPMmuckraker today, is that "they're not going after individuals by name."

Read More →

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had a strong third fundraising quarter, taking in about $345,000.

Bachmann also spent $118,000 and has a total of just under $617,000 in cash on hand.

Bachmann's two Democratic opponents, state Sen. Tarryl Clark and former state university regent Maureen Reed, both had a solid fundraising quarter, too -- but they'll first have to spend much of that money against one another.

Bachmann's district voted 53%-45% for John McCain in 2008, though Bachmann herself barely won re-election by a margin of 46%-43%, due to her controversial public statements. Will her continued media presence be enough to mobilize support against her in 2010 -- or will she win again in this conservative district?