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A growing chorus of progressives is calling on Democrats to keep their mouths shut when it comes to Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) future -- and are dismissing the Democratic calls for Weiner to step down as another sign of the timidity of the party.

It's not so much that Weiner didn't screw up royally, they say. It's that they say it's just not that big a deal, and making it into one falls into a Republican trap. And, besides, they say, as long as Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is still walking the halls of the Capitol, why should the left be forced to lose one of its most ardent supporters?

It's not clear how far this will develop. Defending Weiner is not something many are willing to do. But for some progressives, the response to Weiner is another sign of the Democratic party letting its left wing down.

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The sudden capsizing of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign, as aides departed en masse Thursday, leaves Newt with few remaining supporters, a position he has found himself in frequently throughout a tumultuous career that left many burned bridges in its wake.

Katon Dawson, a top aide and fixture in South Carolina politics quit on Thursday, and conceded to TPM only weeks earlier that Gingrich had a history of working in isolation.

"Newt's a guy who's been alone in these fights a long time," Dawson told TPM. "If you look into the 1990s when they were taking on big stuff -- welfare reform, when Clinton vetoed him before signing the budget, reducing the deficit -- those were big, big things and he didn't have a lot of partners then."

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Already on the rise, the buzz around Texas Governor Rick Perry's presidential aspirations is about to get very loud in the wake of Newt Gingrich's campaign collapse.

Two of Perry's closest aides, Rob Johnson and Dave Carney, were among the wave of staffers to resign from Gingrich's campaign. Their participation in a potential rivals' camp was often cited by observers as a sign Perry may not be running for president in 2012.

Minutes after news of their departure, CBS reported that Perry was "serious" about a White House bid, per sources close to the governor. Earlier that same day, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece quoting unnamed confidants suggesting Perry was looking closely at joining the race.

After well over a year of strong denials that he was interested in a run, Perry told reporters in May that he was considering a bid and would make his final decision once the state legislature had finished its session. He'd instantly be considered a top-tier candidate given his resume as a long-serving governor, his popularity with conservatives, and the lack of a credible Southern candidate in the field.

Things really are going bad for Newt Gingrich, in the wake of the mass resignation of his staff: Even one of his honorary co-chairmen is jumping ship.

The campaign of Tim Pawlenty has announced that former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has joined Team Pawlenty. "Tim Pawlenty is a great man, he was a phenomenal governor, and he is the person I now believe stands the greatest chance of defeating President Obama," Perdue said in a Pawlenty campaign press release. "He is the only candidate who has laid out a real plan to grow the American economy, and his track record in Minnesota is proof he's the right man for the job."

Perdue had previously been announced as a co-chair of the Gingrich campaign -- just over two weeks ago. Ouch. Still no word on whether Gingrich can still hold on to his other co-chairman: Former Sen. Zell Miller.

A key link between Pawlenty and Perdue is that Pawlenty's campaign manager is none other than Nick Ayers, who managed Perdue's 2006 re-election campaign when he was only in his early 20s. Perdue then became head of the Republican Governor's Association, and he tapped Ayers to become its executive director, a position that Ayers held through January 2011 under multiple chairmen (Perdue, Mark Sanford, and Haley Barbour.)

While lawmakers from Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) own party have now begun to call for his resignation, a Marist poll released Thursday night finds that his constituents think he should stay.

In the poll, 56% of registered voters in Weiner's NY-9 district think he should remain in office, while only a third (33%) think he should resign. That result comes as further salacious details about the Twitter scandal have come to light.

However, voters are as yet undecided on whether they'll support Weiner when he's up for reeleciton in 2012. Thirty percent of respondents said they'd definitely vote for him next year, compared to 31% who said they would definitely not. A 38% plurality said it was too early to say for sure who they'll vote for in the next election cycle.

It's the first poll to survey voters solely in Weiner's home district, and the first conducted several days out from Weiner's Monday press conference when he first admitted to sending lewd photos and flirting with multiple women on the Internet.

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Newt Gingrich still has a couple of major events on his schedule, though it's unclear who will be left to staff them after a mass mutiny of senior aides on Thursday.

On Sunday evening, Gingrich is set to deliver the keynote address a the Republican Jewish Coalition's "Summer Bash" in Beverly Hills, California. The group already had listed his a speech as a "major foreign policy address" in e-mails to the media before Newt's staff crisis, but Gingrich built it up even further on Thursday as a debut for his new-look campaign. He'll share the stage with a number of notable Republicans, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Kevin McCarthy.

"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring," he wrote on his Facebook page. "The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles."

Monday will be an entirely different challenge as he's scheduled to make his first appearance at the 2012 debates in New Hampshire, an event that will also feature debut performances from Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. It seems likely he will receive questions on his campaign's travails from the moderator.

It's unclear at this point who will even be left to staff Newt at his events. Asked for a list of remaining key staffers, de facto spokesman Joe DeSantis gave TPM a one-word answer: "Pass."

On the plus side, Newt will be tan and rested after a two week vacation in the Greek Isles with wife Callista. He has not made a campaign appearance since May 27 in South Carolina, but appeared via video at last weekend's Faith and Freedom conference in Washington.

State legislators aren't able to vote either way on the Medicare-ending House Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Nevertheless, Democrats, labor leaders and progressives trying to recall GOP state Senators in Wisconsin are eager to tie them to Ryan's budget which, in one prominent case at least, has proven to be political kryptonite for supposedly safe Republicans.

In the case of state Sen. Alberta Darling (R), Democrats may have just found the connection they needed.

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