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In a rebuke to House GOP leaders, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour told reporters on Friday that Congress should authorize disaster relief funds even if they are not offset with spending cuts. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has said that the emergency funds to help Missouri residents affected by deadly tornadoes should be paid for with cuts elsewhere, a break from recent precedent.

"No," Barbour said when asked if he agreed with Cantor. "I think disaster relief is not predictable. Emergencies caused by tornadoes, hurricanes are not predictable. Even if Congress, which as far as I know they never have, set aside a pot of money, as some have proposed, and said, 'Okay, here's this money we're going to use to pay for disaster relief' -- if they were to do that and we had a gigantic disaster that cost much more than that, surely Congress would go back and appropriate the extra money. And if they didn't have a place to offset it, they should still go in and do it."

Mississippi has been hit hard in recent years by hurricanes and floods, most notably Hurricane Katrina, and was also affected by the BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast. Barbour told reporters on Friday, however, that he believed President Obama's moratorium on drilling permits was more damaging to his state than the spill.

A spokesman for Cantor noted to TPM that there were instances under the Republican Congresses of the 1990s in which disaster relief was offset elsewhere, including supplemental assistance to Oklahoma City in the wake of a terrorist attack by Timothy McVeigh.

This story has been updated.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman just finished speaking at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, and his message to the social conservatives in the crowd was clear: I am one of you.

This is something of a tough sell for Huntsman, who is best known on the national scene as a moderate and stands out from the Republican presidential pack for his support of gay civil unions. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and other speakers this morning got big applause by talking about "traditional marriage," but Huntsman understandably stayed away from the topic.

Instead, he tried to sell himself as one of the nation's leading opponents of abortion. That's another favorite topic here, and the kind of thing Huntsman needs to be known for if he wants to win over wary conservative primary voters.

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Speaking at the Faith & Freedom Conference in Washington, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour warned Republican voters on Friday that they could not afford to apply strict purity tests to their presidential candidates, many of whom have raised hackles in conservative circles for various departures from the party line. Wading into very dangerous waters, he told reporters that even increasing taxes -- the ultimate Republican heresy -- should not be a dealbreaker.

Speaking at the Faith & Freedom Conference in Washington, Barbour told the audience of social conservatives that they "can't expert [the nominee] to be pure."

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As the Weinergate Twitter scandal continued to drag on, Jon Stewart had no choice but to send up the whole thing with a soulful song Thursday night.

Stewart was at first conflicted over whether to cover the controversy at all. Two animated characters, News Angel Tom Brokaw and Comedy Devil Don Rickles, appeared on his shoulders and tried to convince him what to do, with Brokow intoning, "facts, truth and judgment," and Rickles shouting, "Weiner's weiner!"

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House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) warned at Friday's Faith and Freedom Conference that the government needed to remove itself from the free market.

In a well-received speech, he offered his prescription for recovery: "Pay off the debt, keep our tax rates low and stable and predictable, stop picking winners and losers in Washington through the regulatory system, and get the system under control so we can flourish."

The line about picking winners and losers is a bit bold coming from one of the few Republicans who voted for the two most critical recent government interventions in the free market: TARP and the auto bailout.

Ryan recently defended TARP as a necessary measure to prevent an economic collapse in a major speech on his budget. His vote on the auto bailout comes up less often, but he told The Daily Beast in 2010 that he believed President Obama would have used TARP funds with less Congressional oversight to rescue the industry if the bill had not passed.

If Mitt Romney was looking for huge headlines from his Thursday campaign launch in New Hampshire...well, he might have reason to be a bit disappointed.

Friday's front page of the New Hampshire Union Leader, the state's largest newspaper, has Romney's launch seriously overshadowed by two other events: The death of former Gov. Walter Peterson (R) -- and Sarah Palin's tour of the state. The latter was given the banner headline just above the fold, "Palin Hits The Seacoast," plus a large photo of Palin and her daughter Piper.

By comparison, Romney's kickoff was reduced to a mere inset photo within text of the Palin piece, and a small headline, "Romney Announces."

The caption text: "INSIDE: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announces his presidential candidacy Thursday in Stratham. Story, Page A3."

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