TPM News

Updated at 12:01 PM

The first Republican primary elections may not begin for more than two months, but President Obama's re-election campaign is already engaging its likely opponents -- especially Mitt Romney -- with tougher and more frequent attacks.

Obama's team is concerned that the GOP candidates will get a pass during the primary campaign if it doesn't aggressively intervene and begin to shape the general election battlefield, according to Ben LaBolt, communications director for Obama's re-election team.

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Since congressional Republicans have blocked President Obama’s jobs bill, Obama is planning a series of actions to help the economy, Reuters reports, including making it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages.

Reuters reports:

The United States has pulled its ambassador out of Syria over security concerns after his cultivation of contacts with protesters led to attacks on his embassy and residence by backers of President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats said on Monday.

Americans would support a transition from the current Electoral College system of divvying up presidential votes by state and replacing it with a nationwide popular vote, according to a new poll from Gallup out Monday. 62 say lawmakers should amend the Constitution to do so and 35 percent say we should keep the Electoral College in place.

From Gallup: “Those who advocate abolishing the Electoral College often do so on the basis that the system puts undue emphasis on a small number of swing states. Whether Americans as a whole are concerned about that byproduct is unclear. However, they broadly agree that the country should adopt a system in which the popular vote prevails. While Republicans are less supportive of this than Democrats, 11 years after the 2000 election politicized the issue, the majority of Republicans once again favor the change.”

Speaking with Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) defended his opposition to President Obama's now dead jobs bill, saying that the federal government should instead focus on decreasing regulations.

Senate Republicans, joined by three conservative members of the Democratic caucus, defeated that $35 billion package last week, which aimed to hire or retain teachers and emergency responders. And Democrats will surely trumpet their recalcitrance as we head into 2012.

Yet McConnell spun the issue in a different light, telling Crowley that saving emergency responders from unemployment shouldn't be a federal responsibility because we can't afford "to be bailing out states."

"I certainly do approve of firefighters and police," said McConnell. "The question is whether the federal government ought to be raising taxes on 300,000 small businesses in order to send money down to bail out states for whom firefighters and police work. They are local and state employees."

But, as Crowley pointed out (and as did Harry Reid on the floor of the Senate last week) polls show that 75 percent of the public supports raising some form of tax on millionaires to pay for aid to teachers, police, and firefighters.

We've already delved a bit into Herman Cain's 1996-1999 stint as the head of the National Restaurant Assocation. Benjy Sarlin wrote about Cain's lobbying against stricter drunk driving laws last week, for example.

Today, the New York Times has fleshed out Cain's tenure at the NRA a bit further and found a tobacco industry who considered Cain a strong ally when he ran for president the first time.

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A group of mobile computing researchers at Virginia Tech have come up with a way to completely wipe sensitive information from Android devices based on the person's location. The researchers say that their system could be used under a variety of scenarios -- from preventing hospital personel from misusing patients' sensitive personal information to people in the military who should not be carrying sensitive strategic information around with them.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday blasted the Obama administration's handling of Iraq as a failure and dictated by nothing more than campaign tactics.

"At a time when we need troops in Iraq to secure the country, we have none," Graham told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "It was his job to end this right [and] they failed."

Graham, a long-standing critic of the Obama administration's foreign policy, also scolded the President for letting politics guide his decisions, rather than strategy.

"I think he's made some poor decisions on the strategic level. Israel has been thrown under the bus by this President. Iraq and Afghanistan [are] being run by Chicago and not Washington for these past six months."

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