TPM News

CNN announced Tuesday that they hired Erick Erickson, the editor of RedState, as a political contributor for John King's new show, a show which they've promoted as a doubling down on straight news.

There's a bit of a contrast here. Erickson is, as CNN says, a voice the right side of the Internet listens to. Conservative lawmakers read his site and, occasionally, use it to break news. He's been named on "most influential" lists and has pushed hard for conservative candidates like Marco Rubio. He's a city councilman in Macon, Ga.

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When I interviewed Connie Saltonstall last week, the former Charlevoix County, MI commissioner told me she's aiming to become the next Bill Halter with her primary bid against Rep. Bart Stupak (D). Now it looks like her prediction may be coming true.

Democracy For America, one of the progressive groups that helped push Halter into his primary race against Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) in Arkansas, is now polling its membership to ask them if the group should turn some of its resources to Saltonstall, who is running on a platform of opposition to Stupak's focus on abortion in the health care debate.

"We don't just jump into a primary race without the overwhelming support of members making it clear exactly where the DFA community stands," DFA deputy political director Michael Langenmayr wrote in an email message today.

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As the Democrats' push for health care reform enters the home stretch, President Barack Obama will speak Friday morning at George Mason University's Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

Doors open at 9 a.m. ET. The event kicks off at 11:30 a.m. ET.

The speech will be open to the public, with no tickets required. The Patriot Center is a big arena. This is a rally.

More info here.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is calling for a new procedural solution to stop the health care bill: Have an angry mob of citizens storm Washington and prevent Congress from acting, in imitation of the Velvet Revolution that overthrew communist rule in Czechoslovakia!

The Huffington Post interviewed King after his speech at today's "Code Red" anti-health care bill rally, a speech in which he called upon the crowd to "Storm this city, fill up Washington D.C., jam this capital so they can't move."

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With former Detroit City Council president Monica Conyers appealing the three-year sentence she received last week after pleading guilty to bribery charges, a federal judge today appointed a public defender to represent Conyers, whom he declared indigent.

A statement from a court spokesman suggests that Monica Conyers' husband, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), is not willing to pitch in for legal fees.

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In their latest attempt to derail health care reform, conservatives are attacking the Democrats' preferred procedural strategy for passing the legislation. The GOP is trying to put Democratic leaders on the defensive about using what's known as a self-executing rule to push health reform through, with House Minority Leader John Boehner dubbing it, "the ultimate in Washington power grabs."

The issue, as I alluded to in this post, is Democrats' tentative decision to use a rule that would allow them to pass both the Senate health care bill and the reconciliation fix with a single vote. Republicans have dubbed this the "Slaughter Solution," and described it as an unprecedented maneuver that will allow Democrats to enact reform without casting a vote on it. The reality is that this maneuver (known more technically as a "self executing rule") has a long history, and has been used more frequently by Republicans than by Democrats.

That doesn't mean every Democrat is on board. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA)--a crucial swing vote on health care reform, told me and a handful of other reporters this afternoon that he disapproves of the "Byzantine" maneuver.

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So much talk today about "deem and pass!" All sorts of House members made the cable rounds to weigh in on news that Democrats might use a procedural tactic to vote on the Senate health care bill and the reconciliation fix in one fell swoop.

According to Democrats, this is a rather routine parliamentary procedure. Republicans claim it's something a little shadier.

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Marco Rubio has further solidified his support among Washington conservatives for the Florida Republican Senate primary. Rubio's campaign has announced the endorsement of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Price's statement doesn't directly mention Gov. Charlie Crist, the GOP moderate who was the initial frontrunner in this race, but has a clear attack on Crist for supporting the stimulus. And Price hints that we can't trust Crist on opposing Obama on health care, either: "I have full confidence Marco will stand with Republicans against big government disasters like the stimulus and ObamaCare. The last thing we need in the Senate is someone who will abandon our Party and undercut our efforts to limit government and take care of taxpayer dollars."

Three recent polls -- each not without its critics -- show Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) trailing in a hypothetical match up with former Wisconsin governor and Bush administration cabinet member Tommy Thompson (R). He hasn't decided whether he'll seek the GOP nomination yet, but is rumored to be seriously considering it.

If he does, polling suggests Thompson could depose one of the strongest progressive voices in the Senate. With the two latest polls added in, the TPM Poll Average for the race shows Thompson leading Feingold by a margin of 46-42.8.

Media reports have picked up on the polls, painting the picture of an incumbent on the ropes. The Feingold campaign rejects that assertion outright, claiming that the polls are the problem, not the Senator.

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