TPM News

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) appeared this morning on Fox & Friends, and further laid out his opposition to the building of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York City. Indeed, Gingrich said that the center's organizers have a radical Islamist agenda of proclaiming their triumph and superiority over America, and he compared them to Nazis putting up a sign near the Holocaust Museum.

"Look this is not about the right -- first of all, there are over a hundred mosques in New York City. So people have the right to free religion, if they want it. I've said it openly, if they want to build this mosque in the South Bronx, I'm all for it," said Gingrich. "Gov. Paterson has offered them state land -- which, interestingly, I don't know of any state that has offered a church or a synagogue free land -- but he's tried to solve the problem by getting them away from the site."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Welcome To The Neighborhood? A Look At The Area Around The 'Ground Zero Mosque']

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Polling numbers from Mason-Dixon over the weekend suggest that after a couple of months of chaos, things are finally returning to normal in the race to be the next Senator from Florida. And here's what normal looks like in the Sunshine State: the establishment Democrat, with the backing of President Clinton and President Obama, is leading the race for his party's nomination. And the Republican nominee is leading in the general election.

A new Mason-Dixon poll shows Rep. Kendrick Meek -- the Democratic Party choice in the race -- well ahead of the upstart billionaire, Jeff Greene, who's poured millions into the primary race to knock Meek off. The poll, conducted Aug. 9-11, shows Meek leading Greene 40-26. Another new poll, conduced by the Florida news site Sunshine State News, also shows Meek with a double-digit lead in the primary race.

However, past polling, including another new poll from the weekend, has shown the race to be considerably tighter. The weekend's Ipsos poll shows Greene leading 35-31, which keeps with what we've seen in the past.

Meanwhile, the Mason-Dixon poll shows that Gov. Charlie Crist's plan to salvage his collapsed Republican campaign for Senate with an independent bid has put him right back where he was before -- running behind Republican Marco Rubio.

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So-called "Birther Queen" Orly Taitz hadn't yet heard about the Supreme Court's decision to uphold a $20,000 fine against her when TPMMuckraker reached her on Monday.

But Taitz told TPMMuckraker she is convinced that none of the members of the court read her request, and that clerks made the decision for the justices. She cited a passage from a book co-authored by Justice Antonin Scalia in which, she claimed, Scalia said that less than one percent of cases are actually read by a judge.

"It was never seen by Justice [Clarence] Thomas, there's not evidence it was seen by Justice Thomas," Taitz said. "I don't believe the Justices read a word of the pleadings." She said she wanted to see the original court document with the signature of a member of the court.

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The Democrats' likely nominee for Governor of Florida, state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, didn't wait for the general election to go up with her first television ad. It seems that the opportunity to mock the nasty Republican primary between state Attorney General Bill McCollum and former hospital executive Rick Scott was just too great to pass up.

Sink's ad shows actors obviously portraying the two Republicans having a "no you are!" fight in what appears to be an elementary school classroom. The message is not subtle.

"Don't know about you, but I've had just about enough of politicians attacking each other," Sink says in the spot.

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Colorado Republican Senate nominee Ken Buck, who upset establishment favorite Jane Norton in last week's primary, last year expressed support for repealing the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of Senators by popular vote.

But don't worry, Buck now says. He's thought it through, and is now firmly opposed to repealing the 17th Amendment.

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The new Mason-Dixon poll of the Nevada gubernatorial race finds that Republican nominee Brian Sandoval continues to lead Democratic nominee Rory Reid by a big margin, though the lead has narrowed just slightly.

The numbers: Sandoval 52%, Rory Reid 36%. The survey of registered voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Mason-Dixon poll from late July, Sandoval led by 50%-31%.

In the Senate race, the same batch of polling showed Rory Reid's father, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, leading Republican Sharron Angle by 43%-42% So clearly, there are voters who would pick Brian Sandoval, but are leery of the other Republican in the Senate race, where Angle has faced heat for her right-wing views and habit of avoiding the mainstream media. And on the other end, some voters who are picking Harry Reid are not going for Rory at this juncture.

The TPM Poll Average puts Sandoval ahead by 52.0%-36.4%.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has a new ad, tearing down his Republican opponent Sharron Angle's latest ad, in which she says she wants to save Social Security. The announcer asks: "Are you kidding?"

The ad then goes over media coverage of Angle's various previous statements about wanting to phase out the program, and how she has changed her position since she won the Republican primary. The announcer concludes "Sharron Angle: Views so extreme, she can't tell you the truth."

The TPM Poll Average puts Reid ahead by 45.7%-42.6%.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has gone up with a very positive new ad in the home stretch of his Senate primary. McCain, who enjoys a strong lead over former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, totally ignores his challenger and instead presents a feel-good face of optimism and hope amidst the problems the country is going through.

"My father and grandfather taught me, and I've taught my children: Service before self. If ever there was a time to honor that code, that time is now," McCain says. "We will get America back on course. We will return Arizona to safety and prosperity. Working together, we can improve the lives of every Arizona family. I appreciate your support, I ask for your vote."

The TPM Poll Average gives McCain a lead of 53.6%-32.1%. The primary will be held next Tuesday, August 23.

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates is waxing poetic about historical tenure serving at the Pentagon, and told Foreign Policy magazine he will retire sometime next year.

"I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012," Gates, who has served under both President Obama and former president George W. Bush, told Foreign Policy. "This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year."

Foreign Policy reports that Gates noted that if he lasts until January, he "will have been in the job longer than all but four of my predecessors." They are Robert McNamara, Don Rumsfeld, Cap Weinberger, and Charles E. Wilson.

Obama has lost several top economic officials this year, and it's not unusual for major transitions out of the administration in its third and fourth years, especially as the campaign heats up.

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Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will not face federal charges related to his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Politico reported.

The Justice Department notified DeLay's lead attorney, McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen, about the decision last week, the lawyer said.

"The federal investigation of Tom DeLay is over and there will be no charges," Cullen told Politico. "This is the so-called Abramoff investigation run by the Public Integrity section of DOJ. There have been a series of convictions and guilty pleas since 2005."

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