TPM News

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on CNN's State of the Union this morning that he thinks his former running mate Sarah Palin is still "a formidable force" in his party.

"She still is a formidable force in the Republican Party and I have great affection for her," McCain said.

While McCain acknowledged tensions in his campaign -- "Did we always agree on everything in the past, will we in the future? No." -- he said that picking Palin as his vice presidential nominee "energized our party," and, responding to a question from John King, implied that she's a contender for president in 2012.

"We have some great people out there and Sarah is one of them," McCain said.

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Among Florida voters who know both men, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) leads Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) in a head-to-head matchup for the state's open Senate seat, according to a new poll commissioned my Meek's campaign and set for public release this weekend. Crist's once-vaunted levels of public support have softened considerably, making him appear more vulnerable than most observers had predicted heading into the 2010 race. Crist's personal and job approval ratings are now below those of President Obama's in Florida, and a majority of voters claim Crist is putting his "personal ambitions ahead of the people" by running for Senate during his first term as governor.

The poll, conducted Sept. 23-28, will be the centerpiece of a national press blitz by Meek in the coming week. TPMDC got an exclusive first look at the surprising results.

"These numbers are eye-opening," Meek said in an interview yesterday. "People will start looking at this race in a different way."

Late Update: Neither the Crist campaign or the NRSC have responded to requests for comment on this story. When they do, we'll post.

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President Obama said Saturday night in a speech to thousands of gay rights supporters at a Human Rights Campaign event in Washington D.C. that he will end the military ban on gays.

"I will end 'don't ask, don't tell,'" the President said. "That's my commitment to you."

We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve this country. We should be celebrating their willingness to show such courage and selflessness on behalf of their fellow citizens, especially when we're fighting two wars.

The President did not, however, give a timetable for when such a change to the military's ban on gays might be overturned.

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President Obama tonight will address the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington, speaking about his commitment to gay rights even as the community is frustrated about lack of action on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, among other things.

The White House said the president will speak for 15 to 20 minutes, and hinted he might make some promises about speedy action.

"He looks forward to speaking directly with the LGBT community about the steps his administration has taken thus far and the progress he hopes to achieve in the coming weeks and months," said White House spokesman Shin Inouye.

Earlier this week, Obama named an openly gay lawyer to be his ambassador to Samoa and New Zealand.

This summer just before Obama was about to address gay Democratic activists, he extended some benefits to the partners of gay federal workers.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama will discuss the Hate Crimes measure that may pass Congress, saying the protections are "long overdue" "[He] looks forward to, when that legislation gets to his desk, signing it and making that the law of the land," Gibbs said.

Obama Boasts of Bipartisan Support For Health Care Reform -- And Shames The Opposition In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama proudly touted the support for health care from prominent Republicans such as Bob Dole, Bill Frist, Mike Bloomberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Louis Sullivan and Tommy Thompson -- and contrasted this with the opposition from other Republicans in Washington:

"These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn't a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution," said Obama. "Still, there are some in Washington today who seem determined to play the same old partisan politics, working to score political points, even if it means burdening this country with an unsustainable status quo."

LeMieux: Dem Health Care Solutions Worse Than The Problems In this weekend's Republican address, the recently appointed Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) attacked the Democratic health care proposals as being worse than the current problems:

"We in the Congress have a duty to tackle this problem, but the solution we settle upon should not be rushed, and the solution should not be worse than the problem we are trying to solve," said LeMieux. "Right now, Senate Democrats and White House officials are behind closed doors crafting their final health care overhaul proposal. While the Democrats in Congress have not yet provided the actual language of their proposed law, we do know enough for Americans to be concerned."

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October 9, 2009: U.S. President Barack Obama is named the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama says that he is "surprised and deeply humbled" by the selection, and that he will "accept this award as a call to action." Here's a look at some other notable figures who have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in the past.

Newscom/UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

2008: Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, wins "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts."

Newscom/Gary Fabiano/Sipa Press

2007: Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore wins with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

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2006: Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, who founded Grameen Brank and developed the concept of microcredit, wins the Peace Prize with his bank "for advancing economic and social opportunities for the poor, especially women."


2005: Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, wins with the IAEA "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way."


2004: Wangari Muta Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, wins "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace."

Newscom/Ramin Talaie

2003: Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi wins "for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children."


2002: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wins for "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development." Carter is the only U.S. president to win a Nobel Peace Prize after leaving office.


2001: Ghanaian diplomat and seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan wins, with the U.N. itself, "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."

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2000: Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung gets the Prize "for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular."


1994: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin (pictured), Israeli President Shimon Peres, and President of the Palestinian National Authority Yasser Arafat win "for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East."

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1993: The last President of apartheid-era South Africa, Frederik Willem de Klerk, and the first democratically elected South African President, Nelson Mandela (pictured), win "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa."

Newscom/Chuck Kennedy/MCT

1990: President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev gets the award "for his leading role in the peace process which today characterizes important parts of the international community." Gorbachev's reforms to the USSR helped end the Cold War, and bring about the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Newscom/Daniel Deme/

1989: The 14th Dalai Lama is awarded the Peace Prize for "his struggle for the liberation of Tibet" and consistent opposition to "the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people."

Newscom/ UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

1986: Writer, political activist, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wins for his "practical work in the cause of peace," and for his role as a "messenger to mankind," who promotes "peace, atonement and human dignity."


1984: South African archbishop and political activist Desmond Tutu becomes the second South African to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a human rights activist, and his campaigns against AIDS, poverty, and racism.

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1979: Renowned Roman Catholic nun Mother Teresa is awarded the Peace Prize for her humanitarian work.

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1978: Then Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat (pictured) and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin win for negotiating the Camp David Accords, which resulted in the Israel Defense Forces' withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, and the return of Egyptian territories captured during the Six-Day War.


1964: Martin Luther King, Jr. wins for his leadership in the civil rights movement in the U.S., which stressed civil disobedience in the fight against racial discrimination and segregation. King was then the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize.

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1919: Then U.S. President Woodrow Wilson is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in forming the League of Nations, and helping shape the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.

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1906: U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt wins the Prize for successfully negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese war.

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Two official investigations have begun into Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell's (R) secret taxpayer-funded polling operation, revealed yesterday by the New London Day.

Rell's office used taxpayer funds earmarked for a University of Connecticut study into increasing "government efficiency" to run a secret focus groups and polls testing Rell's policies, her rhetoric and even the viability of a political rival. Rell and her administration has called Democratic outrage at the program "politics at its worst" and claimed it did nothing wrong by funding the polling.

Despite that take, twin investigations were launched into polling by the state government and the university where the polling took place. The Hartford Courant reports:

The two probes, confirmed today in interviews with officials, include:

• A joint investigation by the bipartisan Auditors of Public Accounts and Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal into whether, as Auditor Kevin Johnston put it, "state tax dollars have been used for other than strictly state purposes." Johnston, a Democrat, said that he and his Republican fellow auditor Robert Jaekle, have spoken Thursday and Friday with Blumenthal about their investigation.

• An inquiry by UConn's Office of Audit Compliance and Ethics, which university spokesman Michael Kirk said is now "examining the research associated with this project to determine if it may have violated any aspect of UConn's code of ethics. " That code includes at least one prohibition against political activity on the job.

Rell's response after the jump.

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A spokesman for the State Department had this take on President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, reports CNN:

Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum -- when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes.

The comment was made by Assistant Secretary PJ Crowley, a spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, former surrogate for the McCain campaign, and current exploratory candidate for Senate in 2010, declined to answer a question about Sarah Palin. Blogger Bill Black reports that Fiorina spoke to a business meeting in San Francisco Thursday night:

But most interestingly, she was asked whether Sarah Palin displayed leadership qualities. The question was asked in apparent sincerity, but her physical reaction seemed to suggest that she considered it a hostile question.

Here's her response, word for word, in its entirety:

"I've never met Sarah Palin. Next question."

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) took to the airwaves on Fox today to warn viewers of the rapists and child molesters he says will be coming to their doors courtesy of the U.S. government next year.

Speaking on "Studio B" this afternoon, Chaffetz responded to recent Senate testimony from a GAO official who said it was "possible" that improper fingerprinting procedures at the Census Bureau led to the hiring of somewhere around 200 temporary census workers "with extensive criminal records." The official said the bureau had dismissed 750 of 1,800 temporary workers it hired last year with criminal records after reviewing details of the workers' cases.

Chaffetz, to Fox's Gregg Jarrett:

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