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Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) had a really tough time with reporters today, who peppered him with questions about a former aide, Brent Furer, who recently resigned as a result of 2008 criminal charges for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend with a knife.

Vitter's been staying out of the public eye since the charges surfaced a couple weeks ago -- along with the revelation that Vitter had not only kept Furer on his staff, but had reportedly also tapped him to handle women's issues. But today Vitter made a public appearance to formally file his reelection papers. And he did not get a free pass from the press.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell backed the wrong horse in the Senate primary back home in Kentucky and now he's paying the price with state Republicans. A new PPP (D) poll out today shows McConnell's approval rating has fallen to a record low 34% in his home state.

Even worse for McConnell is that only 38% of voters surveyed said that they want McConnell to remain the head of his party's caucus in the Senate. Almost half -- 49% -- said they don't think McConnell should keep his job as Republican leader.

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Sharron Angle said today that she could potentially take legal action against Harry Reid -- after he defied a cease-and-desist letter -- for reposting her own old campaign website, maintaining that he has illegally taken her intellectual property.

"I don't think Harry is above the law," she said of Reid today.

The site, which she used during the Republican primary, was posted by the Reid camp in an effort to make Angle look like she was hiding right-wing views from the wider electorate.

"Well your website is like you, it's your intellectual property. So they can't use something that's yours, intellectual property, unless they pay you for it or get your permission," Angle said in a radio interview today, Greg Sargent reports. When asked by host Heidi Harris whether this would go to court, Angle responded: "Well we are going to pursue it. I don't think that Harry is above the law. He needs to obey the law. If you and I need to obey the law, Harry isn't immune. He needs to obey the law as well."

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A conservative group called Americans for New Leadership has a new ad out in the Nevada Senate race, defending Republican nominee Sharron Angle on Social Security. There are just a couple small problems. As Jon Ralston pointed out, the ad makes two errors: Angle's actual past statements on Social Security -- and the proper spelling of the candidate's name.

"Sharron Angle doesn't want to phase out Social Security," the announcer says. "She wants to phase out the way Harry Reid and Congress raid Social Security for their reckless spending." A later piece of on-screen text says "Sharon (sic) Angle will protect Social Security." The misspelling is especially amusing since right before this, photos are shown of Angle campaign signs that use the correct "Sharron."

In fact, during the Republican primary Angle did say that she wanted to "phase out" out Social Security, and said that "getting out" of Social Security and Medicare was "not up for grabs" -- that the only room for debate with her was the proper implementation and timeline for doing so. Since then -- after she won the primary -- Angle has shifted her position to wanting to allow people to use the same Social Security system as we know it, while also giving a choice of using a system of private accounts.

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Angle a lead of 46.0%-40.8%.

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House Minority Leader John Boehner says he doesn't want to "prejudge" any official Republican plan to fix Social Security before voters have their chance to weigh in on a nifty new GOP Web site soliciting their ideas. Boehner won't tip the party's 2010 cards as to whether the unpopular George W. Bush-era plan to privatize Social Security might be on the table if he gets the Speaker's gavel after November.

But after spending some time scanning the "America Speaking Out" Republican site that Boehner said will inform the GOP game plan this fall, it's clear that there are plenty of voters who want the party to push privatization once more.

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At a press conference just now, Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that he would try to hold a special election this year for the Senate seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd. Manchin also said that he might run in that special election.

His announcement came in response to an announcement from the Secretary of State that there would only be an appointment to the seat, with no new election until 2012. And for now, the matter of filling the seat is being placed on hold -- though Manchin again categorically ruled out appointing himself to the seat, while also keeping the door wide open to running in an eventual election.

At one point, a reporter asked Manchin whether he would run in a special election held this year. "I would highly consider that. I truly would. I always want to put myself in a position to help the people of West Virginia," said Manchin. He then went on to sound very much like a candidate in waiting, talking about the decline of civility and cooperation in Washington, and how he believes he can bring West Virginia's own issues to the forefront while improving the dialogue.

Manchin announced that he is asking state Attorney General Darrell McGraw (D) to write up a formal opinion on the law, which Manchin hopes could come by the beginning of next week or earlier. "Now with all that being said, I will not move forward on this appointment or the succession process until the Attorney General's opinion is rendered," said Manchin.

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Last night, President Obama announced his fifteenth recess appointment: Dr. Donald Berwick, who will serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Berwick is a pediatrician, Harvard professor and head of the non-profit Institute for Healthcare Improvement by day and, if the Republican reaction is any guide, the man who will institute health care rationing and kill the elderly at night.

Not sure why it's such a big deal that the President finally put someone, or even Berwick, in charge of administering Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program after four years of our government tolerating a rudderless agency? The Republicans have answers for you.

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