TPM News

Former President Bill Clinton stars in a new radio ad for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who is in a heated Democratic primary runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in Clinton's native state of Arkansas.

"We've never had a Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee before, and we shouldn't give it up now," says Clinton. "In Washington everybody was betting Wall Street would beat her efforts to clean up trading practices that led our country to the brink of economic collapse, but they were wrong, she won that fight. And, when President Obama needed her help on health care reform she stood with him to secure health coverage and better and more affordable care. She took a lot of heat for that vote, but you and I know she did the right thing."

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Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who is in a heated Democratic primary runoff for June 8 with the more liberal Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, has a new pair of TV and radio ads for the home stretch of the campaign -- proudly declaring her independence from the labor unions that have backed her opponent.

"I'm Blanche Lincoln, and I know you're angry at Washington. Believe me, I heard you on May 18. I'm even being attacked for where my family lives," Lincoln says in the TV ad, referring to the first-round primary in which she came in first place with 45%, but with less than the 50% needed to win. She is also apparently referring to the Halter campaign's gloating over Lincoln's initial trouble voting in the primary, after she had sent away for an absentee ballot and had not mailed it back. "But I won't back down to the Washington unions or the Wall Street banks that don't care about Arkansas."

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BP, struggling to maintain its image while taking responsibility for the worst oil disaster in U.S. history, has hired someone new to head its American public relations operation: Anne Womack-Kolton, the former campaign press secretary for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Womack-Kolton ran Cheney's press shop during the 2004 campaign, and worked as an assistant press secretary in 2000. She was also an assistant in the White House press office.

She begins today, the BP press office tells TPM.

In the private sector, she's worked for the Brunswick Group and APCO Worldwide.

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A new survey of Iowa by Public Policy Polling (D) suggests that former Gov. Terry Branstad, who is seeking to reclaim the office he held for 16 years in the 1980s and 1990s, could be surprisingly vulnerable in next Tuesday's Republican primary against Tea-Party aligned businessman Bob Vander Plaats.

The numbers: Branstad 46%, Vander Plaats 31%, and state Rep. Rod Roberts 13%. The poll of likely GOP primary voters has a ±4.5% margin of error.

"The race is particularly tight among the conservative voters who have been giving GOP establishment candidates fits across the country so far in 2010. With them Branstad leads Vander Plaats only 41-35. He expands his overall lead thanks to a 58-19 advantage with moderates," writes PPP communications director Tom Jensen. "Among voters that actually know who Vander Plaats is- whether they see him favorably or unfavorably- he leads Branstad 42-37. The question is if there's enough time left for Vander Plaats to completely make up the huge gap in name recognition he began the campaign with."

The United States barred a Mexico City-bound Aeromexico flight from entering U.S. airspace Sunday after authorities learned that a Somali man who has resident status in America -- and is also reportedly on a no-fly list -- was on board.

Abdirahman Ali Gaall did not resist when he was arrested by Canadian police after the flight, which took off in Paris, was diverted to Montreal. A spokesman for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada told the AP that Gaal was arrested on an unspecified outstanding warrant.

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The Israeli Defense Forces has released what it claims is video footage of its raid on the Mavi Marmara ship. Several pro-Palestinian activists died during the Israeli raid on the flotilla of ships.

The video purports to show Israeli soldiers coming under attack after boarding the ship. The activists appear to be hitting the soldiers with what the IDF describes as metal rods. Another soldier appears to be thrown over the side of the deck.

It's unclear what happened before the video begins, or after it ends -- or what happened on the other ships. The activists dispute the IDF's version of events. IDF restrictions have largely prevented independent verification of what happened during the raid.

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