TPM News

McCain: 'Mr. Steele Is Going To Have To Assess As To Whether He Can Still Lead The Republican Party' Appearing on This Week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded strongly to RNC Chairman Michael Steele's criticism of the war in Afghanistan -- even seeming to say that Steele should consider resigning. "I think those statements are wildly inaccurate, and there's no excuse for them. Chairman Steele sent me an e-mail saying that he was -- his remarks were misconstrued," said McCain. "Look, I'm a Ronald Reagan Republican. I believe we have to win here. I believe in freedom. But the fact is that I think that Mr. Steele is going to have to assess as to whether he can still lead the Republican Party as chairman of the Republican National Committee and make an appropriate decision."

Lieberman: Petraeus Should Changes Rules Of Engagement In Afghanistan Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) called upon Gen. David Petraeus to change the military's rules of engagement in Afghanistan, which are currently designed to minimize civilian casualties by prohibiting troops from shooting unless they are fired at or from firing explosives at targets that are near civilians. "Ultimately, we've got to be concerned about the safety of our American troops here," said Lieberman, also adding that he has heard stories about troops having to wait too long to get air support when under fire. "We can't let that happen."

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Obama: GOP Senators 'Using Their Power To Hold This Relief Hostage' In this weekend's YouTube address, President Obama announced the funding of two solar energy companies by the Department of Energy, with nearly $2 billion. He also attacked Republican leaders for blocking his economic relief proposals.

"In the short term, we're fighting to speed up this recovery and keep the economy growing by all means possible. That means extending unemployment insurance for workers who lost their job. That means getting small businesses the loans they need to keep their doors open and hire new workers. And that means sending relief to states so they don't have to lay off thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers," said Obama. "Still, at a time when millions of Americans feel a deep sense of urgency in their own lives, Republican leaders in Washington just don't get it. While a majority of Senators support taking these steps to help the American people, some are playing the same old Washington games and using their power to hold this relief hostage - a move that only ends up holding back our recovery. It doesn't make sense."

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Embattled RNC chairman Michael Steele may well have been saved by the calendar. On any other day, a leaked video showing him telling funders that Afghanistan is a hopeless war, launched not by George W. Bush but by President Obama could easily have cost him his job. As luck would have it, though, the footage surfaced on a Friday before a holiday weekend with many of Washington's biggest newsmakers out of town or unavailable for comment. But with Republicans and conservative operatives calling for his head, Steele must be wondering whether he'll survive beyond the long weekend.

The news broke unexpectedly this morning. "[T]his was a war of Obama's choosing," Steele was heard saying. "This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."

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West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D), who announced earlier this year that there would not be a special election this year to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, is now calling upon the governor and legislature to change the law to do just that.

Tennant announced earlier this week that there would not be an election, but instead a gubernatorial appointment to last through November 2012 -- at which time there would be two elections, one being for the next regular term and the other for the remaining roughly five weeks of the current term. This result, which struck many people as quite odd, was in fact the product of the state's very confusing statute on the subject, and indeed it had a binding precedent from the 1990s.

"I understand that people can believe that the Legislature did not intend such a lengthy delay when the process was changed in 1990. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court interpreted the Legislature's intent in 1994 and the Court's decision controls the law until either the Court makes a new ruling or the law is amended by the Legislature," Tennant said in a press release. She also added: "I do not have the authority to make the law into whatever I personally prefer it to be. Therefore, I request that the Governor call a special session to address the state's succession law, not only as it relates to a U.S. Senate vacancy but a Gubernatorial one as well."

Katon Dawson, the former South Carolina GOP chairman who narrowly lost the Republican National Committee chairmanship to Michael Steele in January 2009, is now calling for Steele to be fired as RNC chairman in the wake of his comments seemingly opposing the Afghanistan war.

"The RNC should do the responsible thing and show Steele the door," Dawson told CNN. "Enough is enough."

Dawson has often criticized Steele's many gaffes in the year and a half since he became chairman -- and many of Steele's critics were also former Dawson supporters. But this is the first time that Dawson is officially calling for Steele's ouster. Dawson is recommending a third person for the job, Mississippi RNC member Henry Barbour, the nephew of Gov. Haley Barbour who is currently heading up the Republican Governors Association: "Henry Barbour would be a great choice and a fine operative to run the RNC and finish the midterms in the manner required to secure the success our candidates deserve."

Late Update: This post originally mistakenly said that Dawson was recommending Haley Barbour for the RNC chairmanship, not Henry Barbour.

1||June 29, 2010: House and Senate members face off in the annual Congressional baseball game at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. This year, the Democrats trounced the Republicans 13-5 after scoring nine runs in the 9th inning.||Jeff Malet/

2|| Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) warm up. Sanchez, the only woman on either squad, wears her signature No. IX jersey in honor of Title IX legislation.||Jeff Malet/

3||Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI) limbers up before the game.||Jeff Malet/

4||Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) pitched a complete game for the Democrats. ||Jeff Malet/

5||Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) tags out Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) at first base.||Jeff Malet/

6||Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) played shortstop.||Jeff Malet/

7||Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) dives back to the bag ahead of a throw to third baseman Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA).||Jeff Malet/

8||Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) steals third base ahead of the tag by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX). ||Jeff Malet/

9||Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) stretches out for the ball at first base. ||Jeff Malet/

10||Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) is hit in the leg by a pitch from Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL).||Jeff Malet/

11||Shimkus pitched for the Republicans for the sixth straight year.||Jeff Malet/

12||Weiner sprints toward home plate, defended by catcher Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA). ||Jeff Malet/

13||Later, Weiner makes an over-the-shoulder catch in left field, a play that was later featured on ESPN's SportsCenter.||Jeff Malet/

14||Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who managed the Republican team, perhaps apologizing to the umpire? ||Jeff Malet/

15||Reps. Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-NY) and Stupak.||Jeff Malet/

16||The Democrats pose with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) after winning the game. ||Jeff Malet/

Call it America's Next Top Demon Sheep. Ever since Carly Fiorina released her infamous video into the world, candidates have been scrambling to outdo each other with campy, ridiculous ads.

Today's entry in the fray: Jim Bender, a Republican candidate for Senate in New Hampshire. Bender, one of four Republican candidates in the race, announced in March that he had hired Sen. Scott Brown's campaign manager, Beth Lindstrom, to run his campaign. The primary is Sept. 14.

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

• ABC, This Week: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Afghan Ambassador to the United States Said Tayeb Jawab, Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH), Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Kenneth Feinberg, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Will not air, due to coverage of Wimbledon.

Despite what his campaign website says -- and his past public statements -- Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul does not want to install an underground electric fence on the border. That's according to Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton, who told Greg Sargent today that no matter what Paul may have said before, this is the deal: He supports an electronic fence on the border. Just not underground.

A little backstory: Last week, Sam Stein reported on Republican confusion at the plan listed on Paul's website to build "an underground electric fence, with helicopter stations to respond quickly to breaches of the border." Here's what NRSC chair John Cornyn told Stein about the proposal:

"I have not heard that," the Texas Republican said. "Underground? What would happen? How would that work?"

Today, Benton told Sargent to just ignore all that "underground" stuff.

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The Democratic Governors Association has announced their strongest ever fundraising quarter -- though it's still not as good as their GOP counterparts at the Republican Governors Association, who have also seen a strong cash-flow.

The DGA raised $9.1 million in the second quarter, and has $22 million cash on hand. The DGA also announced that their fundraising in the first six months of this year was their strongest ever. Yesterday, the Republican Governors Association announced quarterly fundraising of $18.9 million, with $40 million cash on hand.

The gubernatorial races this year cover a huge majority of the country's population, in addition to the high-profile races for Congress. And these races are even more important than they were four years ago -- most of the governors elected this year will play a direct role in the redistricting that will come after this year's Census.