TPM News

President Obama spoke briefly to the press about the United States' efforts to help with earthquake recovery in Haiti. He was joined by former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton.

Here is the transcript of their remarks.

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Obama Pushes Proposed Fee On Financial Firms In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama promoted his proposed fee on major financial firms, in an effort to recover government money spent on the TARP bailout to save the industry from collapse. And he blasted the financial industry and Republicans for opposing the fee:

"Of course, I would like the banks to embrace this sense of mutual responsibility. So far, though, they have ferociously fought financial reform," said Obama. "The industry has even joined forces with the opposition party to launch a massive lobbying campaign against common-sense rules to protect consumers and prevent another crisis. Now, like clockwork, the banks and politicians who curry their favor are already trying to stop this fee from going into effect. The very same firms reaping billions of dollars in profits, and reportedly handing out more money in bonuses and compensation than ever before in history, are now pleading poverty. It's a sight to see."

GOP Address: Castle Supports Fight In Afghanistan, Credits McChrystal And Gates

This weekend's Republican address was delivered by Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), the party's candidate for Vice President Biden's old Senate seat. Castle discussed the importance of the fight in Afghanistan, and prominently gave credit to Gen. Stanley McChrystal and to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates:

"Understanding the realities on the ground in Afghanistan directly from our top military commanders is essential," said Castle. "Republicans are pleased with the decision by Secretary Gates to stay on as head of the Pentagon, and, we urge the President to follow his advice of making strategic decisions based on conditions on the ground. Secretary Gates has worked to reaffirm our short and long-term goals to our troops and continues to commend their sacrifice. This outreach is very important and we thank him."

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A new poll released today by ARG shows the Massachusetts Senate race to be a dead heat three days before the special election. Republican Scott Brown led Democrat Martha Coakley by three points, 48-45, among 600 likely voters surveyed by ARG on Thursday and Friday. The poll's margin of error is 4%.

Democrats are going all out this weekend to boost support and drive turnout for Coakley as political observers increasingly see the race slipping away from her in the final days. President Obama is heading to Massachusetts to headline a rally for Coakley tomorrow afternoon, having already recorded a robo-call for Coakley last week. Republicans, meanwhile, are dumping millions into the state in support of Brown, hoping for a surprise upset in the race to fill Ted Kennedy's old seat in the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- who, as we've reported, has not been a fan of the so-called "Cadillac tax" -- today threw her support behind the deal reached by the White House and the unions on the tax.

"There are absolutely no sticking points," she said today, according to a transcript released by her office. "I would say two words, three words would be: finding common ground."

She admitted that the Cadillac tax, or excise tax, had originally been "overwhelmingly rejected" by the House.

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A new poll sponsored by Pajamas Media -- and conducted by a Republican pollster -- shows Scott Brown (R) with a commanding lead in the race to replace Ted Kennedy. According to the poll out today, Brown leads Martha Coakley (D) by 15 points, 54-39.

The poll was conducted yesterday by the Republican firm CrossTarget, which used automated phone calls (the preferred method of pollsters like PPP and Rasmussen) to contact what the firm said were 946 likely voters.

The poll is dramatically different from other recent numbers, which have shown the race as essentially a dead heat. Other polls have shown one candidate or the other ahead, but not by much -- Brown had a four point lead in a Boston Herald poll out this morning, while Coakley led a Reseach2000 poll sponsored by a left-leaning Massachusetts blog this week by eight.

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

• ABC, This Week: USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Not yet announced.

• CNN, State Of The Union: USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

• Fox News Sunday: USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

• NBC, Meet The Press: USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen.

The White House released a pretty comprehensive breakdown today of the actions taken by President Obama and his staff in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Here are the details, as presented by the White House.

Tuesday, January 12

5:52 PM -The President is informed of the earthquake at 5:52pm. The President asks his staff to make sure that embassy personnel are safe, and to begin preparations in the event that humanitarian assistance is needed. The Department of State, USAID and the United States Southern Command begin working to coordinate an assessment and any such assistance.

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Former President Bill Clinton campaigned today for Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley, making an appeal to the state's progressive voters to turn out to vote on Tuesday -- and to not let the right claim the mantle of the Boston Tea Party.

"The reason these polls are all over the place is because no one knows who's going to show up," said Bill, the Boston Herald reports.

"I came here to tell the people of Massachusetts this: This country's revolution was born in Massachusetts," Bill added. "The Revolutionary War was first won here. The war was over here years before it was finally finished. It started with the Boston Tea Party, and the right wing Republicans have appropriated that on the premise the tea party was against government."

Instead, Bill put forward this key difference, a seeming attack on the Republicans: "What they were against was abuse of power."

Rep. Vic Snyder (D-AR) has announced that he is retiring from the House.

This could very well be a tough one for Democrats to hold on to. Snyder was first elected in 1996, and has not had a tough re-election fight since his initial 52%-48% win, but his district has swung significantly to the Republicans underneath him. It voted 54%-44% for John McCain in 2008, and 51%-48% for George W. Bush before that -- part of the Southern belt of districts that went against the national trend, swinging further Republican in 2008.

A SurveyUSA/Firedoglake poll released yesterday showed Snyder losing re-election to Republican candidate Tim Griffin, who had a brief and controversial tenure as a U.S. Attorney in 2007 during the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.