TPM News

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Former President Bill Clinton.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Gen. Ray Odierno.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA).

It's shaping up to be a clash of the titans.

On the one hand, Senate Democrats aren't stepping back an inch from their pledge to move ahead with financial regulatory reform, with or without Republicans, by the end of next week. In fact, just today, President Obama threatened to veto a final bill if it's weakened too much during the legislative process.

But on the other hand, Republicans have coalesced around a strategy of uniform opposition to the Democrats' draft legislation authored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd.

So we're at an impasse.

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In yet another indication of the Republican Party closing ranks around Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate primary, Mitt Romney is now endorsing his candidacy in the Republican primary over the initial favorite, Gov. Charlie Crist.

The TPM Poll Average shows Rubio leading int he primary by 59.1%-27.9%, a mirror image of Crist's initial lead in the race last year. Rubio parlayed conservative discontent with Crist, especially over Crist's support of President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill, into support that helped him overtake the governor in the polls.

Crist further alienated Republicans yesterday when he vetoed a GOP-backed education bill, which would have eliminated tenure for new teachers and instituted strict merit pay guidelines. This has led to increased speculation that Crist could leave the Republican Party and run for Senate as an independent against Rubio and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek -- a possibility that Crist no longer seems to be ruling out.

A fourth New Orleans police officer was charged today in connection with the coverup of the police shootings of unarmed civilians on Danziger Bridge in New Orleans less than a week after Hurricane Katrina struck.

Officer Robert Barrios is accused of conspiring to obstruct justice with other officers who were on the scene when police killed two people and seriously wounded four others in what the Times-Picayune editorial board recently dubbed a "massacre."

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Could the days of presidential hopefuls flinging accusations at one another about "measuring the drapes" at the White House be over?

Sen. Joe Lieberman is aiming to take the presumptuousness out of planning, saying it's critical for national security to ensure a seamless start for a new president. Lieberman (I-CT) has joined Sens. George Voinovich (R-OH), Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to write a bill that would allow presidential candidates to formally begin transition work once they accept the party nomination.

In the fast-moving political climate as world events travel the speed of the Internet, there's not a moment to spare when a new president takes office. But the next chief executive isn't allowed to really plan for taking over the White House until they win the election. The bipartisan legislation proposes giving both major party presidential nominees a two-month jump on the process.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) is starting to send some mixed messages on whether he might bolt the GOP and run for the Senate as an independent, the Miami Herald reports.

"I'm not thinking about that today," Crist told reporters today. "We'll look at that later on." This event comes in the wake of Crist's veto yesterday of a Republican-backed education bill, a bill that many saw as a key choice for Crist and his future in the GOP.

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No one ever said that Congressional Republicans lack chutzpah. But this is rich even for them.

The GOP is trying to use the Jack Abramoff scandal -- in which a Republican lobbyist bribed staffers to Republican members of Congress and members of the Republican Bush administration -- to tar Democrats and their allies.

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Every member of the Senate Republican Caucus has signed a letter, delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, expressing opposition to the Democrats' financial regulatory reform bill, which they all claim will lead to more Wall Street bailouts.

"We are united in our opposition to the partisan legislation reported by the Senate Banking Committee," the letter reads. "As currently constructed, this bill allows for endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and establishes new and unlimited regulatory powers that will stifle small businesses and community banks."

As of last night, 40 of the Senate's 41 Republicans had signed the letter. The lone holdout, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), said yesterday that she opposed the legislation but hadn't yet decided whether to sign, and it's not clear what convinced her.

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Before meeting with his economic advisers today, President Obama told reporters he'd veto any financial regulatory reform bill that doesn't "bring the derivatives market under control."

"I want to see what emerges, but I will veto legislation that does not bring the derivatives market under control and some sort of regulatory framework that assures that we don't have the same kind of crises that we've seen in the past," he said before meeting with the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

"We can't allow history to repeat itself. Never again should American taxpayers be forced to step in and pay the price for the responsibility of speculators on Wall Street who made risky bets with the expectation that taxpayers would be there to break their fall," he said.

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The new Rasmussen poll of Arizona finds Sen. John McCain with only a small lead over his challenger in the Republican primary, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

The numbers: McCain 47%, Hayworth 42%, with a ±4% margin of error. The TPM Poll Average gives McCain a lead in the primary of 48.0%-40.8%, with the incumbent blow the crucial 50% mark.

From the pollster's analysis: "McCain has been losing ground since January when he picked up 53% of the potential GOP Primary vote and Hayworth had only 31% support. Last month, the longtime senator and 2008 GOP presidential candidate earned 48% of the vote, while 41% of likely primary voters supported his challenger."