TPM News

The conservative think tank to which James O'Keefe and at least one of his alleged co-plotters have ties enjoys a prominent voice in Louisiana politics -- and has lately gone hard after ACORN.

O'Keefe -- who gained national notoriety last fall for his ACORN sting -- and three other men were arrested Monday after allegedly trying to tamper with phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu. O'Keefe, was scheduled to give a speech last week on investigative journalism to the Pelican Institute. Robert Flanagan, who was arrested with O'Keefe, works at Pelican, according to his lawyer, and has written blog posts on policy issues on Pelican's website.

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Pat Toomey, the man who drove Sen. Arlen Specter from the Republican party last year, is now threatening to drive the Democrats from the Pennsylvania Senate seat they've held since Specter left the GOP last April. A new poll from Franklin & Marshall University shows that among registered voters, Toomey is tied with Specter and leads Rep. Joe Sestak, who's challenging Specter for the Democratic nomination.

Among likely voters, Toomey leads both men by double-digits. He's ahead of Specter 45-31, and leads Sestak 41-19. Inside those numbers, Franklin & Marshall polling director Dr. G. Terry Madonna told me, is a similar story seen in the 2009 gubernatorial elections and last week's Massachusetts Senate race: Toomey's voters are far more motivated and excited about the race than Democratic supporters.

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The Indiana Republican Party is officially disapproving of remarks by Richard Behney, a Tea Party activist who is seeking the GOP nomination to run against Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, and who declared that if the 2010 elections don't turn out right he would be "cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show."

"We don't condone this type of rhetoric and feel it is unhelpful in promoting constructive debate," said state GOP chairman Murray Clark, in a statement e-mailed to TPMDC. "We continue to encourage anyone seeking political change to do so through the electoral process and to discuss the issues of the day in a civil manner."

In a video that was posted online in late December, but has received wider attention in the last few days, Behney told a political gathering: "I believe personally, we're at a crossroads. We have one last opportunity. And I believe 2010 is it. All right? And we can do it with our vote. And we can get new faces in, whether it's my face or not, I pray to God that I see new faces. And if we don't see new faces, I'm cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I'm serious about that, and I bet you are, too. But I know none of us want to go that far yet, and we can do it with our vote." (Watch the video here.)

Senate candidate and Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) says that he may appear with President Obama at a University of Tampa event on Thursday.

Crist faced some backlash over his last appearance with the president, when Republicans lambasted him for a "man hug" the two shared back in February.

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Gov. John Hoeven (R-ND), the GOP frontrunner to win the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, has an interesting wrinkle in his political history: When he first got into politics 14 years ago, he proclaimed himself to be a Democrat -- and strongly denied any implication that he was a Republican.

The North Decoder blog dug up a letter that Hoeven wrote to a local newspaper in 1996. At the time, Hoeven was president of North Dakota's state-run bank, and was eyeing a possible run for governor, which he ultimately did as a Republican in 2000. "I have always been moderate in my political views, but now that I am considering elective office, I realize I must join a political party and stick to it," Hoeven wrote in 1996. "I have decided to join the Democratic-NPL Party because I believe that is the best fit for my views."

Also in his 1996 letter, Hoeven strongly rejected the suggestion that he could be a Republican: "What people don't want is partisan politics as usual. The effort by overly partisan members of the Republican Party to cast me as one of their own is just that, partisan politics as usual." So we asked Hoeven's campaign manager, why did he end up becoming a Republican instead?

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Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), the Congressman who was rocketed to fame last year when he shouted "You lie!" during a presidential address, says he's not planning a repeat performance at tonight's State of the Union. He is, however, planning his own live response to the speech.

"That was a one-time incident," Wilson told McClatchy Newspapers. "I will continue, through my agreement with the White House, to discuss issues civilly."

But he does plan to give his own response to Obama, and will stream it live on his Facebook page tonight at 10:30 ET.

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Bad news for those planning to attend the Feb. 4 Lincoln Day Dinner of the Salt Lake County Republicans: the keynote speaker, James O'Keefe, won't be making it after all.

O'Keefe, the filmmaker famous for dressing up as a pimp in an ACORN video sting, was arrested with three other men Tuesday for allegedly attempting to tap the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) New Orleans office.

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Democratic insiders, members of Congress, and health care reformers are now ramping up pressure on the Senate to take procedural steps to assure a comprehensive bill can become law. The House is signaling that it's ready to pass the Senate's health care bill, but only if the Senate gives concrete signs that they will follow suit, and pass a separate amending bill through the budget reconciliation process--a move that is increasingly seen as a necessary precondition of a successful reform push.

Today, 49 leading health care experts--who recently urged the House to act--are now acknowledging that the House deserves an act of good faith from the upper chamber before it pulls the trigger on reform.

"Key differences between the bills, such as the scope of the tax on high-cost plans and the allocation of premium subsidies, should be negotiated through the reconciliation process. Key elements of a reconciliation compromise enjoy broad support in both houses," reads a new letter from the experts to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MT); and President Obama. "Other discrepancies between the House and Senate bills can be addressed through other means."

Last Friday, we urged the House to adopt the Senate-passed bill along with improvements that can be immediately achieved through reconciliation. We urge the Senate to join the House in this effort, and we urge the President to sign both bills.

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