TPM News

Ken Cuccinelli is trying to allay intense concerns from Virginia's scientific and academic communities about his investigation of a former University of Virginia climate scientist.

"The same legal standards for fraud apply to the academic setting that apply elsewhere," the attorney general told a crowd on Tuesday at a fundraiser for -- what else? -- an abstinence-only education group, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "The same rule of law, the same objective fact-finding process will take place."

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An overnight snap poll from Research 2000/Democracy For America suggests that Bill Halter is potentially beginning the Democratic primary runoff for Senate in Arkansas with a lead over incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

The numbers: Halter 48%, Lincoln 46%. The survey of people who voted in Tuesday's first round of the Democratic primary has a ±4.5% margin of error.

The TPM Poll Average gives Lincoln an insignificant edge of 45.2%-45.1% in a direct two-way race with Halter -- but keep in mind that this data set is almost entirely from polls taken before the primary, and has a lot of asterisks and caveats to go with it.

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Vice President Joe Biden released the following statement today on last night's Democratic primary in Pennsylvania:

Arlen Specter is one of my closest friends. He has served Pennsylvania with determination, wisdom, and skill for many years. I was proud to play a role in his return to the Democratic Party; his votes to pass the Recovery Act and health insurance reform were courageous and critical to our success. I look forward to working with him during the rest of this year, and remaining in close contact with him after his term in Washington is finished.

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Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the No. 3 Republican in the House and an Indiana colleague of Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), informed the ethics committee that Souder was having an affair with a staffer after Souder informed him of the matter on Sunday, a Pence spokesman said today.

It's not clear why Pence went to the ethics committee about the affair.

Pence first heard about the Souder affair after a journalist approached him last Wednesday, he said at a press conference earlier today. Pence says he approached Souder on the House floor about the matter, and Souder told him about the affair.

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Senate Democrats failed this afternoon to get the 60 votes they needed to end debate on the financial reform bill.

Two Republicans crossed the aisle and voted with the Democrats. But with multiple Democrats voting against cloture, and another absent, the Democrats fell just short. The final vote was 57-42.

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With the big Super Tuesday primary elections out of the way, the White House and the Democratic National Committee have mounted a public relations offensive to sell Supreme Court nominee Solicitor General Elena Kagan to voters and the senators tasked with her confirmation. Meanwhile, key Democrats are asking for more information on her record on abortion rights.

Judiciary Committee hearings will begin June 28, the panel announced today. It's an earlier start than ranking member Sen. Jeff Session (R-AL) had sought, and Leahy said he wants to wrap the hearings by July 4. Staffers from both parties are poring over Kagan's 202-page questionnaire detailing her record. Kagan herself has done a charm offensive while doing the standard in-person meetings with senators on Capitol Hill.

Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, a co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, sent Leahy a letter asking for more information on the nominee's pro-choice stance. Slaughter (D-NY) argued that Kagan's position is relatively unknown given her lack of a judicial record.

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Earlier this week, the New York Times ran a story about the ambiguous way Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal describes his military service. In the Times' strongest example of Blumenthal's misrepresentations, he says, "when I served in Vietnam."

But as the Associated Press points out today, in a longer version of the speech -- which has been posted on the YouTube page of one of Blumenthal's Republican opponents since the Times story broke -- the attorney general also describes his military service more accurately, saying he "served in the military during the Vietnam era, in the Marine Corps."

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It's tricky, trying to delicately distance yourself from a comment you made without saying, "I didn't mean it!" Or worse, "I never said that!"

Just ask Sue Lowden, a Republican who's vying to challenge to Sen. Harry Reid. Lowden's been a TPM favorite ever since she first proposed bartering chickens for health care.

In a debate last night, she tried to claim she never said that she was sticking to her chicken barter "system." Unfortunately for her, there's video.

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