TPM News

With Republican women dodging questions on abortion and a GOP freshman struggling to explain how defunding Planned Parenthood was about creating jobs, plenty of observers thought the Republicans lost the messaging war ahead of the government shutdown last week as the focus centered on social rather than fiscal issues. Not Rep. Allen West (R-FL).

West -- who isn't on board with the deal Republican and Democrats reached at the last hour to fund the federal government -- told reporters Friday that in his view, Republicans were on message.

"I think we did a good job at messaging, and the reason I think we did a good job at messaging is because the Democrats panicked and they started with the 'war on women,' 'killing women' and 'starving seniors' empty, emotional rhetoric," West said. "It's not working anymore."

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Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) is a prime Tea Party target this year as he faces a tough primary challenge from state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. But he'll be heading into battle with plenty resources, raising nearly $1 million this quarter.

According to Roll Call, Lugar's latest FEC filings of $974,000 will push his cash-on-hand total to over $3 million, making him a formidable opponent. Mourdock has told reporters he has raised about $125,000.

Money by no means guarantees the seat -- third party groups like the Tea Party Express have proven very effective at boosting insurgent candidates with even relatively small ad buys -- but Lugar's early fundraising numbers signal that he's trying to get ahead of the challenge early.

Politicians often pledge to not let their constituents down. But one Oregon lawmaker has taken that pledge to a whole new level, as he and a few colleagues surreptitiously recited the lyrics to Rick Astley's 80s hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up" on the House floor.

The prank known as "rickrolling," emerged as an Internet meme a few years back, and involves tricking someone into clicking on a benignly disguised link to open a web page that blares Astley's unmistakeable song. The phenomenon became so ubiquitous that Astley himself rickrolled the Macy's Day parade in 2008.

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Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) doesn't think Congress' last-minute budget deal is enough.

Congress probably deserves "medals" for approving one of the "largest year-to-year cut in the federal budget," Hensarling said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "Relative to the size of the problem, it is not even a rounding error. In that case, we probably all deserve to be tarred and feathered."

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Donald Trump has an explanation for why President Obama's birth would be announced in a Hawaii newspaper if he wasn't really born in the United States: His grandparents put it in as a ruse to make people think he was a U.S. citizen, "for hospitalization, for welfare, for this, for that, for all of the other assets you get from being a United States citizen."

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Brushing aside whispers of a growing rivalry, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told FOX News on Monday that he and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) were on good terms.

"There's a lot of people who want to write things about Eric and I and the jostling for power," Boehner said. "It's nonsense. Eric and I have a wonderful relationship. We understand each other. We walk through these battles together, and I'm grateful for his leadership."

At one point during talks to avert a shutdown, Cantor disavowed any knowledge of reported movement in negotiations, leading some commentators to speculate that he was trying to create distance from Boehner in case conservative lawmakers led a revolt over an agreement.

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A majority of Florida's registered voters disapprove of President Obama's job performance, and as a result, Obama trails Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney in hypothetical 2012 matchups there, according to a new Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll.

In the poll, 43% of respondents said they approved of Obama's job performance, compared to 56% who disapproved. Further, only 34% of independents -- who could play an important role in picking the state's winner -- approved of Obama's job performance,

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Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is exploring a run for president, has announced a top-flight staff hire -- former Republican Governors Association executive director Nick Ayers is coming on board as campaign manager for Pawlenty's exploratory committee. Though as Ayers himself says, his signing up isn't so much answering a call from Pawlenty -- but from God.

Ayers, age 28, led the RGA from 2007-2010, overseeing a big budget organization, in a period when the GOP made very strong gains in governorships. Ayers will relocate to Minnesota from his native Georgia, and assume his new position effective April 25.

Pawlenty announced in his press release: "He is without question one of the best political talents in America. We are very excited Nick will lead our team. His leadership and record of winning tough races in every part of our country will provide even more momentum to our campaign to get America back on track."

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SNL's Fox & Friends had a lot of intelligent commentary on the government near-shutdown this weekend. To begin, they noted (in)correctly that it was the first time in our nation's history that a budget showdown had almost resulted in the shuttering of the federal government. To be fair, there were some government programs they weren't too broken up about getting rid of, Michelle Obama's anti-obesity initiative among them. Vanessa Bayer's Gretchen Carlson noted that if American kids get too skinny, all the film and television roles for chubby kids will go to the Mexicans. ¡Qué lástima!

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Congress And Obama Face New Budget Fights Reuters reports: " After a narrow escape from a potentially damaging government shutdown, even bigger budget fights lie ahead for President Barack Obama and leaders from both parties in Congress. Obama will offer a long-term plan for deficit reduction on Wednesday as the White House and Congress begin to pivot to looming fights on the 2012 fiscal year budget and on raising the $14.3 trillion limit on government borrowing authority. Those conflicts are likely to dominate the political agenda for the coming months and echo into Obama's 2012 re-election race, overshadowing Friday's 11th-hour deal to cut $38 billion in spending for the final six months of this fiscal year."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET. He will hold a meeting on Libya at 11:30 a.m. ET.

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