TPM News

Even Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's harshest critics agree that pushing him out before his tenure is up would be a PR nightmare -- saying that even though he may deserve the boot, they fear he'd get so much media attention they'd never hear the last of him.

"If he were thrown overboard you can guarantee he'd be out there slamming a lot of people and saying a lot of things. It's best to let this one simmer down," said a top Republican strategist who works with the RNC.

Steele already is a larger-than-life television force, appearing on multiple television shows and sometimes sticking his foot in his mouth. GOP sources told me that many believe it's better to ride the wave, no matter how wild, until January rather than get a big(ger) mess on their hands.

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Michael Steele, it seems, can't go home again. His former partner in government, ex-Maryland Governror Bob Ehrlich, took a whack at RNC spending yesterday, the day he formally announced his next campaign for governor.

"The burn rate has been pretty quick," Ehrlich told DC's NewsChannel8 in an interview yesterday. Spending was at the center of the controversy that led to the resignation of RNC chief of staff Ken McKay this week. Critics from inside and outside the GOP have condemned Steele's RNC for spending thousands on questionable purchases like parties at topless bars. Ehrlich said there's merits to the criticisms.

"I don't want to sugar-coat this," Ehrlich, who claimed to be a regular RNC donor, said. "When you're asking someone for their hard-earned dollars, in a recession, they don't want to see headlines about some bar."

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President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivered joints remarks earlier today at the signing of the New START Treaty in Prague:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everyone. I am honored to be back here in the Czech Republic with President Medvedev and our Czech hosts to mark this historic completion of the New START treaty.

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The new Quinnipiac poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race shows Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey retaking a lead over his long-time nemesis, incumbent Democrat and ex-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter.

The numbers: Toomey 46%, Specter 41%, with a ±2.6% margin of error. Toomey also leads Specter's challenger in the Democratic primary, Rep. Joe Sestak, by 42%-34%. A month ago, Quinnipiac showed Specter taking a lead of 49%-42%, and Toomey had an edge of 39%-36% over the lesser-known Sestak. The TPM Poll Average currently gives Toomey a lead over Specter of 43.1%-39.6%, and a lead over Sestak of 38.9%-32.0%.

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Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is making one thing very clear: As a representative from an agricultural, meat-producing state, he really does not like the Humane Society.

King released a statement yesterday criticizing the presence of the Humane Society at a recent National 4-H Conference. In the release, King says the Humane Society has a hidden vegetarian agenda "to take meat off everyone's table in America."

"The Humane Society of the United States is a political machine masquerading as an umbrella organization for local humane societies," King said. "HSUS bills itself as an animal care organization but it spends less than 1% of its $100 million annual budget on direct animal care. Instead, HSUS solicits money from well-intentioned but often uninformed animal lovers and uses these donations to lobby Congress for an anti-meat, anti-animal agriculture agenda. HSUS is run by vegetarians with an agenda whose goal is to take meat off everyone's table in America."

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President Obama delivered the following remarks earlier today during a ceremonial lunch with President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much, everybody. President Klaus, and to the people of the Czech Republic, thank you for your extraordinary hospitality.

To President Medvedev, Dmitry, we have learned to work together, and I'm extraordinarily grateful for your leadership and your clarity. And I think it has served us extraordinarily well during the course of these negotiations.

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Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) is quickly moving to quash speculation that he might retire, saying that he in fact intends to run.

Stupak told the Detroit Free Press that he has not made a final decision on running. However, this because he hasn't had a chance to sit down and discuss the campaign with his family, which he usually does every two years before the filing deadline in May. Stupak also said he is not worried about his challengers: "I have 18 years of goodwill built up."

In addition, the Associated Press reports that the Democratic leadership has actively asked Stupak -- who has faced criticism from both liberals and conservatives for championing a pro-life position during the health care debate, and then ultimately voting to pass the bill -- to run. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) both reportedly phoned Stupak recently and encouraged him to run again.

A former New Orleans police officer has given authorities a shocking account of the killing by police of two unarmed civilians and the wounding of four others on Danziger Bridge in post-Katrina New Orleans.

The account of the September 2005 incident by former Officer Michael Hunter, 33, who pleaded guilty yesterday to charges associated with the coverup of the shootings, is contained in a court filing that you can read in full below.

In this excerpt, Hunter describes another officer shooting Ronald Madison, 40, a mentally disabled man, in the back with a shotgun. A second officer then beat the dying man on the ground, according to Hunter.

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GOP donors are thinking it's a good time to be a Republican, but maybe they'd be better off not being a Michael Steele Republican.

The GOP's path to making Congressional gains during this fall's midterm elections might be making a detour to bypass Steele's Republican National Committee. While calls for Steele's ouster have subsided, outside GOP groups and the campaign committees are getting more attention -- and money -- from Republicans eager to seize an election opportunity without the fuss and controversy of today's RNC.

"These groups are all seeing a renewed interest as donors are roused up by being against Obama's health care plan, and they are looking for a place to make a difference. This is inside-the-beltway stuff, but a lot of donors are deciding the RNC isn't that place right now," a top Republican strategist familiar with the RNC and outside GOP groups told me in an interview.

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Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart brought out a special guest: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, as played by Mr. Johnson, the blue muppet from Sesame Street who always sends his soup back at Grover's restaurant.

Stewart has been comparing Steele to the muppet for months, but this time he had him on for a full-length interview to talk about money, race and bein' streetwise.

"Happy to be in the hizzle with my main man Johnny Beefstew!"

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