TPM News

The Obama administration is in cleanup mode, after the Huffington Post reported that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has actively sought to keep consumer watchdog Elizabeth Warren from being named to head a soon-to-be-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, President Obama's top political adviser David Axelrod sought to calm the waters. "Elizabeth is certainly a candidate to lead it," he said.

That sentiment was echoed this morning by Michael Barr, Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions. "I don't know where that came from," he said on a conference call. "She's been working closely with me and Secretary Geithner for a year and half to push for this consumer protection bureau. I believe and Secretary Geithner believes that she's exceptionally well-qualified to run it."

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As promised, House Minority Leader John Boehner, along with Reps. Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), huddled this morning with representatives of the most powerful conservative business and trade groups in the country to field policy ideas and build a legislative agenda ahead of the November elections, when Republicans could retake the House. If what they discussed in any way resembles the coming GOP platform (and, of course, it does), then get ready for more tax cuts and deregulation.

Dan Danner of the National Federation of Independent Businesses spoke up, outraged about "a whole host of new proposed regulations that are going to add costs"

All the invitees, which also included the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and several others, were in broad agreement over steps they hope the government takes if Republicans regain power. Many of them once supported President Obama's stimulus plan, but now want to go back to the way things were.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has a new TV ad out -- seemingly looking right past his beleaguered primary challenger, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, and contrasting McCain with an even greater foe: President Obama, the man who defeated McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

The ad features county sheriffs from across Arizona, talking about the issue of border security. "President Obama has made protecting our border incredibly difficult," says Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. "But, Arizona has a senator with the courage and character to stand up to a president who is wrong, John McCain. A president versus a senator. Doesn't seem like a fair fight. Unless that senator is John McCain."
The TPM Poll Average shows McCain leading Hayworth by 52.3%-30.6%.

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Maybe it's just sour grapes, but sure seems like a lot of Republicans are hating on the tea party these days. Spurned GOPers ousted in primaries have been the most vocal, but even candidates who tried to court the tea party are criticizing the approach of the populist movement.

Whether it's because they feel liberated (or because, as some tea partiers have suggested, maybe they are liberals at heart), here's TPM's roundup of the Top Five Republicans who have spoken ill of the movement in recent weeks.

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The new University of Wisconsin Badger Poll of the Wisconsin Senate race, Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold narrowly leads his main Republican opponent, businessman Ron Johnson -- with many, many undecideds.

The numbers: Feingold 33%, Johnson 28%, with a whopping 38% undecided. The survey of likely voters has a ±5.7% margin of error. There is no prior Badger Poll for direct comparison. The TPM Poll Average gives Feingold a narrow lead over Johnson of 43.2%-41.4%.

The polling memo here seems to suggest that the high number of undecideds comes from the fact that Johnson is largely unknown at this early juncture, with 80% of likely voters having no opinion of him, compared to a 53%-37% favorable rating for Feingold. In addition, undecided voters were not pushed with a follow-up question to see how they would lean: "As the election draws nearer and more Wisconsinites turn their attention to the election choices, we will include such a follow-up."

Former Houston mayor Bill White (D) has raised more money -- and has more cash on hand -- than the incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R) in the Texas gubernatorial race, according to financial reports out this week.

Perry, running for a third term as Governor of Texas, the job he first got after George W. Bush left Austin for the White House in 2001, raised $7.1 million between Feb. 21 and June 30, according to reports. White, who was the popular mayor of Houston after serving in the Clinton administration as a deputy secretary of energy, raised 7.7 million in the same period.

The biggest difference comes in cash on hand, however. Perry weathered an expensive primary during the period, while White faced only nominal opposition for the nomination. That left him with $9 million in cash on hand at the end of June. Perry reported $5.8 million. (Overall fundraising from the entire race shows Perry ahead in the money race, with $20 million raised in comparison to White's $16.6 million.)

The TPM Poll Average for the race shows Perry ahead by a margin of 47.4-40.9.

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In House Judiciary Committee testimony released yesterday, former Bush DOJ lawyer Jay Bybee said he hadn't authorized all of the enhanced interrogation techniques the CIA used -- a point that is at the heart of the criminal investigation into the CIA's use of torture.

Bybee, one of the authors of the infamous torture memos that authorized the use of waterboarding and other techniques, testified before the committee in May.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), one of the great stars of the Tea Party movement, has announced that she is forming a new "Tea Party Caucus" in the House of Representatives, with herself as its initial chair. Bachmann's office said in a press release that the issues caucus would "promote Americans' call for fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution, and limited government."

Bachmann also said in the press release:

"The American people are speaking out loud and clear. They have had enough of the spending, the bureaucracy, and the government knows best mentality running rampant today throughout the halls of Congress. This caucus will espouse the timeless principles of our founding, principles that all Members of Congress have sworn to uphold," Bachmann stated. "The American people are doing their part and making their voices heard and this caucus will prove that there are some here in Washington willing to listen."

Bachmann has previously organized and starred at Tea Party events in Washington and around the country, most notably the Capitol Hill event last fall that she had promoted as "the Super Bowl of Freedom." Sometimes her language hasn't been too successful, such as when she rallied up a Washington crowd in December by declaring, "It's the charge of the light brigade!" -- a military disaster in which the light brigade lost.

The Associated Press reports that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) will appoint his former general counsel Carte Goodwin as an interim Senator, for the seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd.

Manchin's official announcement of the appointment will be made at 2 p.m. ET today.

Manchin is heavily expected to run in a special election this November, with the appointed Senator serving only until that time and not running for the seat. A recent Rasmussen poll shows Manchin starting out in a special election with double-digit leads against two potential Republican candidates.

The new Quinnipiac poll of the Connecticut Senate race shows Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal continuing to enjoy a hefty lead over Republican former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon.

The numbers: Blumenthal 54%, McMahon 37%. The survey of registered voters has a ±2.7% margin of error. This is not significantly different from the last poll in early June, which put Blumenthal ahead by 55%-35%. The TPM Poll Average gives Blumenthal a lead over McMahon of 52.3%-38.1%.

"Linda McMahon's biggest problem with voters is that only 38 percent think she has the right kind of experience to be a U.S. Senator, which tracks very closely with the percentage of the vote she gets against Blumenthal," writes Quinnipiac polling director Douglas Schwartz. "She has improved her experience number slightly, but she must do more to convince Connecticut voters that her background as an executive in professional wrestling is the right kind of experience."

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