TPM News

Have 2012 observers been looking at the wrong Paul? According to the Charelston Post and Courier, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) may follow in his father Rep. Ron Paul's (R-TX) footsteps with a presidential bid of his own.

"The only decision I've made is I won't run against my dad," Paul said at an appearance in key primary state South Carolina on Monday.

Paul said that he would also visit Iowa and New Hampshire, because "I want the Tea Party to have an influence over who the nominee is in 2012."

The Tea Party vote will be a hot commodity in the primaries and several candidates with major followings, including Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, could enter the race. Ron Paul's epic fundraising numbers and intense grassroots following from his 2008 run were a major boost to his son's Senate campaign in 2010 and likely would be a factor in a 2012 bid.

Of note: Rand and Ron Paul are from different states, making a Paul/Paul '12 ticket constitutionally sound should Rand change his mind.

Fox News now acknowledges they sent a representative on a trip to Muammar Qadaffi's Tripoli compound -- an excursion it claims was organized by the Libyan government to use journalists as human shields.

The full back story is here and here. On Monday, seasoned Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that the Libyan government was using journalists from competitor organizations as human shields, while Fox declined to participate in a propaganda mission.

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Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) may not register high in the polls yet, but his credible resume and long preparation for a presidential run has helped attract a highly experienced staff, several of whom have defected from 2008 contenders who are expected to run again in 2012.

TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet The 2012 GOPers: Ex Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)

At the top of the pyramid is Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman and top advisor to former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) in the last presidential election. Weber has been taking digs at his old boss in the press lately, telling reporters that Romney's healthcare record in Massachusetts will be tough to overcome. Weber co-chairs Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC with William Strong, a Morgan Stanley banker who chaired Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign in Illinois.

Weber isn't the only Romney veteran who has changed sides. Phil Musser was executive director of the Republican Governors Association under then-Gov. Romney's leadership then went on to advise Romney's 2008 campaign. Now Musser is a senior advisor to Pawlenty's PAC. The pattern may not be a coincidence -- Politico reported in 2009 that Pawlenty was cold-calling Romney-connected consultants to casually solicit their advice.

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Ginni Thomas, the tea party leader, health care reform foe, and controversial wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, will join The Daily Caller as a reporter.

From Business Wire: "As The Daily Caller's special correspondent, Thomas will interview key political and community leaders -- from high-profile politicians to grassroots activists -- with a focus on listening to those outside the Beltway."

Thomas is no stranger to the spotlight. She worked in 2010 to defeat Democrats, and her role as a de facto tea party, anti-health care reform lobbyist have led critics to demand that her husband recuse himself when the health care law appears before the Supreme Court.

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The Daily Show returned from a one-week vacation last night, and host Jon Stewart was stunned to discover all that had happened in his absence.

"When we left, the world's two biggest trouble spots were Wisconsin and the set of Two and a Half Men," he said. "And then suddenly, all holy hell is breaking loose."

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Cost Of Military Campaign In Libya Could Wipe Out GOP's Spending Cuts The Hill reports: "U.S. military operations in Libya could wipe out a significant chunk of the budget cuts won by congressional Republicans in recent weeks, defense analysts say. GOP leaders have trumpeted enacted spending reductions that amount to more than $285 million per day since the beginning of March. But defense analysts say the Pentagon could be burning through more than $100 million per day in Libya, putting those budget savings at risk."

Obama's Day Ahead The First Family departed from Santiago, Chile, at 8 a.m. ET, and will arrive at 2:45 p.m. ET in San Salvador, El Salvador. The President and First Lady will participate in an arrival ceremony at 3:30 p.m. ET. Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with El Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes at 3:50 p.m. ET, , with an expanded bilateral meeting at 4:20 p.m. ET, and a joint press conference at 4:55 p.m. ET. The President and First Lady will attend an official dinner hosted by President Funes at 10:10 p.m. ET.

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The federal government has launched a publicly accessible URL shortener in collaboration with popular short URL site bit.ly. Called 1.usa.gov, the URL shortener automatically creates a short address for any .gov or .mil URL entered into bit.ly, j.mp or a government portal.

Integrated functionality is expected to be announced shortly for mobile platforms and popular Twitter applications like TweetDeck and Seesmic.

A URL shortener accessible only to federal employees, go.usa.gov was launched in 2010. While any member of the general public can access go.usa.gov links, only federal employees may create links with the service. 1.usa.gov, however, is publicly accessible; anyone who uses bit.ly can create a 1.usa.gov shortlink.

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