TPM News

Just a few days after his rousing keynote address at CPAC, a new poll shows Marco Rubio extending his lead over Gov. Charlie Crist in the the GOP Senate primary in Florida.

The latest numbers from Rasmussen, taken in Florida on the day of the Feb. 18 CPAC keynote, show Rubio dominating Crist, 54-36.

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- who finished tied for sixth place with just 4 percent of the vote in the Conservative Political Action Conference's presidential straw poll over the weekend -- slammed CPAC on Fox News afterward.

The conference, he said, "has become increasingly more Libertarian and less Republican."

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Senate To Hold Key Test Vote On Scaled-Down Jobs Bill Senate Democrats face a key procedural vote today, with a motion to proceed on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) scaled-down jobs bill. Reid will need 60 votes for cloture, and as of yet no Republicans have declared themselves to be in favor of it.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:15 a.m. ET. Obama will deliver remarks at 10:05 a.m. ET to the National Governors Association. He will meet at 12:40 p.m. ET with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA). He will meet at 1:15 p.m. ET with senior advisors. Obama and Biden will meet at 3 p.m. ET with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and at 3:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

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The chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), has signed the letter urging leadership to pass a public option via reconciliation. He is the 20th senator to do so.

The letter also gained the backing of former DNC Chair Howard Dean's group, Democracy for America. In a fund-raising email to supporters, Dean praises the letter as a renewed, serious push for the public option.

"We're back on offense with the momentum on our side," he wrote.

The letter, written by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), also has 119 signatures from House members.

Passing a measure by reconciliation would require 50 votes.

The daughter of the man who allegedly flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin, killing one person and injuring a dozen others, says her father is a hero because he stood up to the system.

"I think too many people lay around and wait for things to happen. But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished," Samantha Bell told Good Morning America.

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Today's the big day - President Obama for the first time will throw his full weight behind a health care plan with the White House stamp of approval, a hybrid piece of legislation the administration is posting online at 10 a.m.

Obama has endured criticism for months that he wasn't giving Congress enough guidance beyond broad health care principles, saying that he supported both the House and Senate bills which passed last year.

Now, the endgame approaches. We'll have lots for you today detailing the compromise proposal which tees up Obama's bipartisan Congressional health care summit Thursday.

Meanwhile, Congress comes back to town and we're expecting even more senators signing onto a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging he use reconciliation (which needs just 50 votes with Vice President Joe Biden as the tiebreakers) to pass a public option plan.

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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will co-sponsor legislation to repeal the military's ban on gays, the New York Daily News reports.

"Next week, the Connecticut senator will announce that he's taking the lead on repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the 1993 law that prohibits gay people from serving openly in the armed forces," writes Daily News columnist James Kirchick.

Lieberman told the Kirchick that allowing gays to serve openly would provide them "an equal opportunity to do whatever job their talents and sense of purpose and motivations lead them to want to do - including military service."

When you artificially limit the pool of people who can enlist then you are diminishing military effectiveness.

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Petraeus Calls For 'Living Our Values,' Rejects 'Expedient Measures' In Interrogations Appearing on Meet The Press, Gen. David Petraeus was asked by David Gregory whether he wished he had the interrogation methods that were available under the Bush administration. Petraeus appeared to say no: " I have always been on the record, in fact, since 2003, with the concept of living our values. And I think that whenever we have, perhaps, taken expedient measures, they have turned around and bitten us in the backside. We decided early on in the 101st Airborne Division we're just going to--look, we just said we'd decide to obey the Geneva Convention, to, to move forward with that. That has, I think, stood elements in good stead. "

Petraeus: 'I'm Not Sure' That Soldiers Care About Gays In The Military Also during his appearance on Meet The Press, Gen. David Petraeus was asked whether soldiers in the field care one way or the other about the issue of gays in the military. "I'm not sure that they do. We'll see," said Petraeus. "Again, that's why this review panel. You know, all we have are, are personal soundings to go on, and I've certainly done some of that myself... I served in fact in combat with individuals who were gay and who were lesbian in combat situations and, frankly, you know, over time you said, 'Hey, how's, how's this guy's shooting?' Or 'How is her analysis,' or what have you."

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Ron Paul's victory in the CPAC straw poll might just be the second most surprising result from the poll, which was released tonight before Glenn Beck gives the final speech of the 2010 conference. After getting bad-mouthed (at best) by speakers at the podium and attendees throughout the conference, it turns out President Obama still has a few fans at CPAC.

Two percent of the more than 2,000 attendees who participated in the straw poll said they approve of the job Obama is doing. Ninety-eight percent said they disapprove of the job president is doing. The 98% is not a shocking result for a White House that's seen the right grow in strength and power on the back of Obama's policies since Inauguration Day last year. But in today's conservative political environment, it's hard to see how a 2% approval rating for Obama could be viewed as anything but an upset.

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Libertarian darling Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll tonight, taking 31% of the vote in the multi-candidate field. Mitt Romney came in a distant second place. Sarah Palin came in third, drawing single-digits.

Only 2,395 straw poll votes were cast by what organizers said was 10,000 attendees at this year's CPAC.

Results from the full field, and a link to the complete poll after the jump.

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