TPM News

A new survey of Utah from Public Policy Polling (D) shows longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch vulnerable for the Republican nomination, trailing his potential opponent Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

The numbers: Chaffetz 47%, Hatch 43%. The survey of Republican primary voters was conducted from July 8-10, and has a ±4.9% margin of error.

Chaffetz, who was first elected to Congress in 2008 by defeating an incumbent in the GOP primary, has been considering a challenge against Hatch. The poll gives Chaffetz a favorable rating of 61%, to 17% unfavorable. Hatch's approval rating is actually a very similar 60%, to a disapproval of 28%.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) the strong frontrunner in the first contest of the Republican 2012 presidential nomination race? Believe it, baby.

A new poll of likely caucus goers in Iowa by the Republican-leaning Magellan Strategies shows Bachmann with 29% of the vote. Next place finisher Mitt Romney has 16%. The Magellan field did not include Jon Huntsman, who is skipping Iowa, or the (so far) non-running Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani or Rick Perry.

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Congressional Democrats introduced a bill today that would take some of the sting out of last year's controversial Citizens United decision by empowering shareholders to weigh in before a corporation makes any political contribution.

The Shareholder Protection Act is a last ditch-effort by Democrats to stem the tide of unlimited political expenditures that corporations will surely use to influence the 2012 election, and one wisely crafted on the conservative premise that shareholders' wallets ought to have the same level of free speech protection as the corporations they helped create.

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So after acceding Tuesday that they'll raise the debt limit one way or another, Republicans are now accusing President Obama of holding the debt limit hostage. Fine. It's pretty clumsy as rhetorical jiu jitsu goes, but fine.

For this argument to be persuasive, though, these same Republicans must omit the fact that they were using the debt limit as a weapon in an ideological fight just 24 hours ago.

But that's exactly what Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) -- an articulate freshman, beloved by conservatives -- just did. Specifically, he told a scrum of reporters outside a GOP steering committee meeting that President Obama's the mustache-twirling villain of the debt limit wars...just after lamenting the GOP's loss of leverage in its pursuit of a Balanced Budget Amendment.

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Tim Pawlenty is the newest Republican presidential candidate to refuse to sign an Iowa religious right group's "Marriage Vow" pledge -- but he's being really nice about it.

"I deeply respect, and share, Bob Vander Platts' commitment to promoting the sanctity of marriage, a culture of life, and the core principles of the Family Leader's Marriage Vow Pledge," Pawlenty said in a statement. "However, rather than sign onto the words chosen by others, I prefer to choose my own words, especially seeking to show compassion to those who are in broken families through no fault of their own."

The "Marriage Vow" involved a candidate pledging personal fidelity to his or her spouse, that he or she would change divorce laws to make "quickie divorces" more difficult, and would oppose gay marriage, pornography, and "Sharia Islam," among other things. Two Republican candidates, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, signed the pledge, and then immediately encountered controversy due to the resolution's original preamble language on slavery -- which has since been edited out -- stating, quite contrary to the facts, that African-American families were more secure under slavery than they are today, under an African-American president.

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By John Voelcker

Fisker Automotive says it will, finally, deliver its first 2011 Fisker Karma range-extended electric sports sedan later this month.

The lucky recipient, it turns out, will be none other than actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

He's the man who kicked off the whole hybrids-for-Hollywood-stars trend, by showing up at the Academy Awards red carpet several years ago not in a limousine but driving his own humble Toyota Prius.

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The White House says Republicans need look no further than to Fox's Bill O'Reilly for advice on breaking through the debt talk stalemate and jettisoning their stubborn opposition to any tax increases whatsoever.

In his smartly titled "Talking Points" monologue Tuesday night, the conservative guru and talking head instructed the GOP to get real when it comes to taxes.

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Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) is no longer a shareholder in the nation's highly profitable oil and gas industry. Why? Because Al Sharpton yelled at him.

The story began last week, when ThinkProgess flagged Kelly's $6.25 million in oil and gas shares and a question the freshman Republican was asked about it at a June town hall meeting. Then came Sharpton's attack on Kelly on MSNBC.

Now Kelly has surrendered to both progressive voices, selling off all of his shares in both companies noted by ThinkProgress. Both firms were founded by Kelly's wife's family, the AP reports.

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