TPM News

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are making a surprise visit to Haiti today.

They arrived in Port-au-Prince around 10:40 a.m., and are taking a helicopter tour of Port-au-Prince, where a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake three months ago left more than a million people homeless.

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--the third ranking Democrat in the Senate--says it's high time Republicans let all of President Obama's judicial nominees come to the floor for up-or-down votes. And if they use Obama's forthcoming nomination of a replacement for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens as an excuse to further delay lower court nominees, they should be prepared to work longer hours.

"We are going to stay in as long as it takes, even if it means nights, weekends, to get these nominees through," Schumer said at a press conference this morning. "Because it's just unpardonable, unexplainable, only the worst of motivations that's holding these judges up."

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Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina's (R) Senate campaign raised $1.7 million in the first quarter of the year, her campaign reported this morning. Fiorina, tied in GOP primary polls with former Rep. Tom Campbell (who entered the race in January after abandoning his run for Governor) has $2.8 million on hand for the final phase of the race toward California's June 8 primary.

The $1.7 million total is a slight boost from Fiorina's fourth quarter fundraising, when she brought in around $1.1 million. Fiorina is just one of several wealthy Republicans running for office in California this year, allowing her to bolster fundraising totals with her own fortune. Last year, she lent her campaign $2.5 million, though campaign officials have said they expect run the rest of the race without any more of Fiorina's personal money.

The TPM Poll Average for the primary shows Campbell with 26.5%, Fiorina with 25.3% and conservative candidate Chuck DeVore with 8.1%

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said today that though he's "not going to start rejecting" potential Supreme Court nominees before the President nominates them, he will object to anyone who exhibits Obama's "strange criteria" of "applying their feelings instead of applying the law."

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Meet Jason Levin, quite possibly the scariest man in the tea party universe. An Oregon technology consultant, Levin is the leader of Crash The Tea Party, a plan to take down the tea party from the inside. Levin says he's got a growing cadre of supporters across the country, and conservatives from the message boards to the set of the Sean Hannity's show are getting nervous.

"Our plan is not to shout them down," Levin told me yesterday, "but to infiltrate them and push them farther from the mainstream."

The scheme reads like a sequel to "Being John Malkovich": Levin's group of protesters plan to get in the heads of tea partiers at the Tax Day Tea Parties nationwide Thursday and manipulate them right out of relevance. They'll dress like tea partiers, talk like tea partiers and carry signs like tea partiers. In fact, according to Levin they'll be completely indistinguishable from tea partiers, except for one thing -- they won't be out-crazied by anyone.

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The Wild West is living up to its reputation as two Texas Republicans with an eye on Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards' seat face off today in a primary runoff election, trashing each other over voting records and property taxes.

With the GOP trying to make the Republican-leaning 17th Congressional district a top November target, the Democrats are exploiting the Republican divisions at every opportunity. Republican candidates Bill Flores and Rob Curnock have given them ample ammunition, sparring over the usual who is more conservative, and the less typical fight over one of them voting for Hillary Clinton.

Flores, a retired oil and gas industry executive backed by the NRCC, and Curnock, who is seeking a rematch against Edwards finished atop the field during the March 2 primary. The nastiness started after a debate, when Curnock asked Flores who he'd voted for in 2008. Flores told Curnock that of course he'd had his vote. But actually, he didn't vote at all. When called on the fib, Flores said he'd been joking.

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The Libertarian Party announced yesterday that it kicked talk radio host Neal Boortz off the national convention's speakers list after Boortz told his listeners not to vote for third party candidates this November.

On April 2, Boortz said that, despite his lifelong membership in the Libertarian Party, he'd be voting for Republicans this November in order to defeat the Democrats. He encouraged his listeners to do the same -- like it or not.

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