TPM News

After a lukewarm segment last night, Sarah Palin returned to Hannity tonight to defend the Tea Party from criticisms comparing them to terrorists. The topic put Palin squarely back in her element, and she took the opportunity to slam President Obama for not being more vocal in opposing the hyperbolic rhetoric. Arguing that the administration had been far too lenient on actual terrorists to permit such language, she quipped, "if we were real domestic terrorists, I don't think President Obama would have a problem with us."

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It's all sun and smiles for Michele Bachmann's latest Iowa ad, except for the dialogue. Titled "Believe It," the spot features Bachmann discussing her vote against raising the debt ceiling and slamming her colleagues for "looting the treasury and bankrupting the nation." Like the rest of the presidential field, Bachmann is rallying her supporters for the crucial Ames Straw Poll on August 13, and the ad asks voters to come join her for the big day.

Mitt Romney's jobs-focused message has proven effective thus far, helping him solidify his frontrunner position in the GOP primary while the other candidates are still caught up in the day-to-day chaos of the campaign. But it's also among the more depressing campaigns in recent memory, relying on a constant stream of hard-times imagery ranging from foreclosed homes to unemployed workers (metaphorically) lying down in the road waiting to be run over. The latest campaign video, on joblessness in Chicago, is even timed to kill the mood at President Obama's birthday party.

Is it a dark theme for dark times or just gratuitous misery? Either way, make sure you're far from any sharp objects or ledges before you look at the following lowlights.

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Rick Santorum fired a verbal salvo at early-education programs on Tuesday, telling an Iowa crowd that government pre-school programs are part of a hideous plot by the government to indoctrinate children.

"It is a parent's responsibility to educate their children. It is not the government's job. We have sort of lost focus here a little bit," said Santorum, the Des Moines Register reports.

"Of course, the government wants their hands on your children as fast as they can. That is why I opposed all these early starts and pre-early starts, and early-early starts. They want your children from the womb so they can indoctrinate your children as to what they want them to be. I am against that."

In order to shield his own family from indoctrination, Santorum and his wife have home-schooled their seven children through the eighth grade.

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Remember that enthusiasm gap from the 2010 election that was oh-so-deadly for Democrats? It looks like it hung around for the debt ceiling fight as well.

A telephone poll by the Pew Research Center for People and Press found that Republicans and Tea Party-affiliated respondents both paid more attention to the debt negotiations and were more likely to take action to influence the outcome.

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Show us the invoices!

ABC News, which previously revealed that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were selling campaign T-shirts and other gear made outside the United States, has now found two other campaigns selling not-made-in-the-U.S.A. merchandise: Herman Cain and Ron Paul.

"No, I wasn't aware it was made in Honduras," Cain said in response. "I was just aware it was Fruit of the Loom ... which is an American company."

Ron Paul did not know, either -- but unlike other candidates, he isn't apologetic about it. "I wasn't aware of it ... but I wouldn't change it," said Paul. "I would argue the case that the market should determine it."