TPM News

The new Rasmussen poll of Indiana, the first survey of the Senate race here since Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh suddenly announced his retirement, finds the two most prominent potential Dem replacement candidates trailing the Republicans.

Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsowrth trails former GOP Sen. Dan Coats by 46%-32%, trails former Rep. John Hostettler by 46%-27%, and trails state Sen. Marlin Stutzman by 40%-30%. Democratic Rep. Baron Hill is behind Coats by 48%-32%, trails Hostettler by 49%-31%, and is behind Stutzman by 41%-33%.

Neither Ellsworth nor Hill are officially in the race at this time, and an actual campaign would likely boost the eventual candidate's name recognition and poll numbers somewhat. But for now, at least, the Democrats appear to start out this open-seat contest significantly behind.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ) has become the 16th Democratic senator to sign a letter calling for passing a public health care option via reconciliation.

Lautenberg's office confirmed to TPMDC that he signed the letter, which was written by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and will be sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid. Passing the provision via reconciliation would require 51 votes.

Earlier today, Sen. Barbara Mikulski signed the letter.

You can read the letter here.

Americans United For Change has a new radio ad up in Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) district, hammering the Congresswoman for saying that the country should "wean" people off of Social Security and Medicare.

"Congresswoman Bachmann actually said we should be 'weaned' off our Social Security and Medicare," a woman says. "She wants to privatize Social Security and replaced Medicare with some kind of voucher system that won't even cover the full cost of medical care or prescriptions."

This radio ad could leave the impression that Bachmann would want to take current retirees or those about to retire out of the system. From her previous statements, it would appear that she would preserve the program for those people who already receiving benefits.

To be exact, Bachmann said: "So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don't have any other options, we have to keep faith with them. But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off. And wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can't do it."

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Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has signed onto a letter calling for Senate leadership to insert a public option into the health care reform bill via reconciliation.

Mikulski's office confirmed to TPMDC that she signed the letter this morning. She is the 15th senator to sign onto the letter, written by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), which will be sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Greg Sargent reports today that Sens. Barbara Boxer (CA), Jack Reed (RI) and Tom Udall (NM) have also added their names to the letter.

Under reconciliation, 51 senators would have to vote for the provision.

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Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) got the party started this morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference with an uplifting speech that offered the promise of both hope and change.

Rubio warned repeatedly he thinks the Obama administration is attempting to "redefine" the role of government from spending to fighting terrorism.

He didn't talk about Republicans but said there is energy in the conservative movement.

"From tea parties to the election in Massachusetts we are witnessing the single greatest pushback in American history," Rubio said, to cheers.

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Debra Medina, the Tea Party activist and candidate in the Texas Republican gubernatorial primary who has attracted attention for her favorable comments about 9/11 Truthers and Birthers, is also involved with another extreme ideological movement: The Oath Keepers.

Will Bunch at the Philadelphia Daily News points out that Medina will appear this Sunday at an event in San Antonio, called "Taking Back Texas." The other two top-billed speakers are Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers movement, and Oather activist Richard Mack, a former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona.

The Oath Keepers, as detailed on their Web site, are a group that calls upon active and veteran members of the military, police and firefighters to take an oath that they will not obey any order they deem unconstitutional. The list of unconstitutional orders include enforcement of gun laws, detention of American citizens as enemy combatants, and impositions upon state sovereignty. The latter trends into areas of nullification -- an early 1800's ideological predecessor of secession, arguing that a state can unilaterally refuse to recognize a law of the federal government: "We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union."

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