TPM News

In a brutal new Jack Conway TV spot set to air in Kentucky soon, Rand Paul is being forced to confront the series of missteps on a Medicare deductible that Democrats say is threatening Republican efforts to win the all-important senior citizen vote.

The new spot, obtained exclusively by TPM, is the latest salvo in a week-long war over Paul's public advocacy for raising the Medicare deductible to $2,000. Back in 2009, Paul was caught on tape suggesting the move as part of a "market-based" transition for the government program, a move he admitted at the time was at best a tough sell to the electorate.

Since then, Paul has attempted to walk back the stance -- first airing a commercial saying he never said it (he later edited that spot to say, basically, that he never meant it) and then explaining he only supported raising the deductible for future Medicare recipients 55 years of age or younger. The overall result of the Paul spin? A frontrunner who sounds like he's on the defensive when it comes to an issue that strikes a core demographic right where their votes come from: their wallets.

Conway seems content to twist the knife. The new ad puts Paul's walkbacks up against footage of the Republican advocating the deductible -- footage captured by the Democrat Conway's tracker.

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Lawrence O'Donnell continued his booking hot streak tonight when he had both Lou Dobbs - at the center of this controversy about employing illegal immigrants on his property - and Isabel MacDonald (whose report in The Nation sparked the controversy) onto MSNBC to debate the issue of whether Dobbs once employed illegal immigrants, despite his long-standing hard-line stance against illegal immigration.

O'Donnell strictly mediated - this was Dobbs vs. McDonald. And the first thing to jump out about this segment: it was long, taking up half the program.  McDonald thought Dobbs was "holding [him]self to a completely different standard than the standards that [he's] held all other American employers to," while Dobbs thought her piece was "a hit job." At the center of the debate was, seemingly, semantics: Dobbs seemed to be out to prove that he never "directly, knowingly employed any undocumented worker" (and MacDonald admitted she didn't have evidence as such), while The Nation's point wasn't so much that Dobbs even indirectly employing undocumented workers would make him a hypocrite. (It's even right in the title.)

In fact, as O'Donnell himself said to Dobbs at one point:

"Well, what they're calling you on this case is a hypocrite if you did that.  You do, what I'm agreeing to is you absolutely didn't commit a crime if you did that.  I'm agreeing to that.  But when you take to the pulpit and preach what you preached you got to be, you got to understand why people think this is a hypocritical outcome."

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Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and now Republican nominee for governor of California, has set the record as the biggest self-financing candidate of all time -- but at the same time, she's losing in all the recent polls against Democratic state Attorney General Jerry Brown, after having previously led for some time. Has she spent too much? It sure seems like it. And things have really started to go wrong for her.

As of now, Brown leads in the TPM Poll Average by a margin of 45.9%-44.4%.

In mid-September, Whitman officially broke the all-time record to become the biggest self-financing candidate in American history, at $119 million of her own money being put into the race. And as of now, the total expenditures from her campaign have reached $140 million, including both her own money and that of others.

At the same time, Brown's campaign has spent only $10 million, a pittance compared to Team Whitman. And it turns out that they've also stockpiled $22.5 million for the home stretch of the campaign -- which will probably be less than what Whitman spends in the same time period, but certainly enough to get his message across and remind voters that he exists.

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New employment statistics released by the federal government this morning continue to show anemic job growth, with 64,000 new private sector jobs unable to offset the loss of 159,000 state government and Census jobs.

The figures show the unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent and 14.8 million Americans remain unemployed.

The numbers track closely with the estimates of independent experts, who predicted this week that the economy would continue to limp along.

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Welcome to the Twilight Zone. In the heated Nevada Senate race, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just picked up the endorsement of a very special Republican for Reid -- the current leader of the state Senate GOP! And he has a long-running feud with Sharron Angle.

As Jon Ralston reports, state Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, who has served in the legislature since 1972, released a statement of support for Reid. A fun fact: Two years ago, Angle ran an unsuccessful challenge against Raggio in the Republican primary, and in this year's U.S. Senate primary he supported Sue Lowden.

As Raggio says in his statement, in part:

"Only one of these candidates has sought my endorsement, Senator Harry Reid. I haven't heard from Sharron Angle or talked with her since long before she decided to run against me for State Senate two years ago. After losing to me in a primary, during which she ran a very negative campaign and distorted my record, referred to me as a liar and a RINO, I never heard one word from her, or a concession, or an offer of support. Instead, she lent aid and comfort to an effort to recall me as State Senator.

"Those are personal issues which I was willing to put behind me.

"What is difficult to overlook is her record of being totally ineffective as a four-term assemblywomen, her inability or unwillingness to work with others, even within her own party, and her extreme positions on issues such as Medicare, social security, education, veterans affairs and many others.

The TPM Poll Average currently puts Reid ahead by the very narrow margin of 47.3%-46.6%.

The internet has been buzzing all day about Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino's big three-minute upstate New York TV-buy, which the New York Daily News first reported last night. But though the content was kept under wraps until the 5:13 EST spot today, the results were pretty anti-climactic for a candidate who's brought nothing but drama since he won the primary...

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The ethics committee hearings for Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) will be held after Election Day, the committee announced today.

Rangel's adjudicatory hearing will begin Nov. 15. Waters' will begin Nov. 29.

The timing of the hearings was a point of contention between the Democratic and Republican members of the committee. Last week, the committee's Republicans demanded the hearings be held before the election in a statement that apparently broke committee rules.

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The first federal court ruling on the Constitutionality of the health care law is bad news for those trying to repeal it.

In Detroit today, U.S. District Court Judge George Steeh refused to issue a preliminary injunction to delay implementing the law in the state. He also dismissed the key contention of the bill's conservative opponents: that a mandate requiring individuals to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.

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On her Facebook page yesterday, Sarah Palin posted an endorsement of Steve Pearce, a Republican running for Congress in New Mexico's 2nd District.

What Palin may or may not have realized, is that Pearce had just days earlier said that there were "significant questions" about President Obama's birth certificate.

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Clinton Postpones Trip To Charlotte

In a statement released Friday evening, Hillary Clinton's campaign announced that the Democratic nominee…