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Daniel Strauss

Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper's Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Daniel

Where is Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX)?

Since he started his insurgent campaign against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in December, the tea party candidate has been in the public eye less and less despite a bevy of headlines about aspects of his campaign.

The Daily Beast noted that not only has Stockman not shown up in Congress for votes since the beginning of January, he has randomly appeared in North Dallas and, of all places, Cairo, Egypt a few days later. In between Dallas and Cairo Stockman managed to miss voting on an omnibus bill despite very clearly vowing to cast his vote as "nay."

The Daily Beast and TPM have reached out to Stockman's spokesman for comment but so far have not gotten a response.

Stockman's campaign, however, has continued to try and keep the candidate relevant with a hastily put together website tying Cornyn to Obamacare: cornynlovesobamacare.com. That website featured a picture of President Barack Obama with a photoshopped image of Cornyn, which the campaign later pulled from the website. (There are, actually, other, real photos out there of Obama and Cornyn together.)

Polling of the race has shown Stockman with a serious deficit against Cornyn.

(Photo illustration by Christopher O'Driscoll)

Something strange seemed to have happened with Michigan Democratic candidate Jerry Cannon's campaign last week.

Cannon, the Democrat challenging Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI), was interviewed by the most experienced reporter for Michigan's Daily Mining Gazette on Wednesday.

As recounted by National Review, the reporter, Garrett Neese, called up Cannon after the interview for a follow-up question. Neese wanted to get Cannon's stance on Obamacare and a proposal on extending unemployment insurance. Here's where things got weird. When Neese called the number on Cannon's card he heard a voice that sounded the same as the one from the interview.

"I don't like Obamacare. It's been a disaster for me. I want to go back to the way it was before," the voice on the phone said.

That, by itself, as National Review notes, was strange given that Cannon earlier in the week said the "worst thing that could be done" to Obamacare is to "throw it all away."

Neese's paper published the new, anti-Obamacare quote on Thursday.

Cannon's campaign manager, Ted Dick, then reportedly called the Mining Gazette to strongly push back on the quote. The Gazette then retracted the entire story and the next day published a new story quoting Cannon taking a position on Obamacare that was different than what was relayed in the interview on Wednesday. That new story included a paragraph that said "Campaign manager Ted Dick said Cannon had not been the person speaking in the call, and that the phone with the number provided to the Gazettte had been turned off during the call."

Cannon's campaign manager, Ted Dick, said the first comment that was critical of Obamacare did not come from Cannon.

"We appreciate the newspaper pulled the original version that included a comment that wasn’t what General Cannon said when contacted and posted a quote consistent with General Cannon’s interview the prior day to the Daily Press that General Cannon believes we should not repeal the consumer protections in the bill and that he will work with both parties to fix the problems with the Affordable Care Act," Dick said in a statement to TPM on Wednesday.

This story was updated.

Photo from Kurhan/ Shutterstock

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D) leads Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the Florida governors race by just 2 percentage points, according to a new poll on Wednesday.

That Public Policy Polling survey found Crist leading Scott 43 percent to 41 percent. Fifteen percent said they weren't sure who they would match in a head-to-head matchup. The poll's finding is a significant decline from an October poll that found Crist leading Scott by a 12-point margin.

The poll also found that neither candidate has high favorable ratings among Florida voters. Just 36 percent of those surveyed said they have a favorable view of Crist while 34 percent said they approve of the job Scott is doing as governor. By contrast 46 percent said they have an unfavorable view of Crist and 51 percent said they disapprove of the job Scott is doing.

The poll's findings will likely be a slight letdown for Democrats who are eager to retake the Florida governorship. Dems even hoped Chris Christie would become radioactive as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and any decline in popularity he suffered would rub off on Scott, for whom Christie recently traveled to Florida to fundraise.

The PPP poll was conducted between January 16 and January 21 among a survey of 591 Florida voters.

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis accused her conservative critics of sinking to a new low by attacking her on her personal story and family.

Davis, in a fundraising email released Tuesday, wrote that Republican opponents have "stooped to a new low by attacking my family, my education, and my personal story – playing politics with the journey that has been my life."

The argument comes in response to conservatives attacking Davis for fudging details about her personal story, which she has repeatedly highlighted throughout her campaign for governor. That criticism was sparked Dallas Morning News report which noted that Davis divorced her first husband at 21, not 19 as she had previously said. The Morning News report also highlighted other inconsistent aspects of how Davis described her background as well.

Davis herself has admitted that she should have done a better job of describing particular details of her story.

Davis's campaign has tried to get a better handle on the episode by accusing Attorney General Greg Abbott, her Republican opponent in the race, of fueling the criticism of her based on her bio.

Read Davis's fundraising email below:

Dear Daniel,

As our campaign has gained momentum, our opponents have gotten more and more desperate. But now they’ve stooped to a new low by attacking my family, my education, and my personal story – playing politics with the journey that has been my life.

Mine is a story about a teenage single mother who struggled to keep her young family afloat. It’s a story about a young woman who was given a precious opportunity to work her way up in the world. It’s a story about resiliency, and sacrifice, and perseverance.

And you’re damn right it’s a true story.

Throughout this campaign, I’ve shared that story – not because it’s unique, but because it isn’t.

The story of my life is also the story of millions of single mothers who feel alone in the world, millions of young dreamers searching for their chance to become something more than what they were born into, millions of families all across Texas who would sacrifice everything to give their children a better future.

It’s those stories – your stories – that drive my campaign. But Greg Abbott and his allies don’t want to hear them. They don’t have anything to offer Texans who find themselves in the same difficult situation I was in when I was young. They would slam the doors I walked through and pull up the ladders I was lucky to be able to climb.

And now, instead of offering real ideas to improve your life, they’re attacking mine.

It won’t work. The only thing Greg Abbott and his allies have proved with these desperate attacks is that they don’t understand what it means to live a life like mine – a life like that of so many people all across our state.

They don’t know me – and, what’s more important, they don’t know you.

I’m not surprised that the Abbott campaign would resort to attacking the story of a single mother who worked hard to get ahead.

And I’m not afraid of their false attacks – I developed thick skin long before anyone knew my name.

What I am is deeply proud of the life I’ve built and the daughters I’ve raised – and deeply grateful to the many, many people who have shared their stories and offered their support as I’ve traveled our state.

No false attack can take away my story. And no sleazy political trick will stop me from giving voice to yours.

Your stories are why I’m running for Governor. And together, I know we’ll make sure that the Texas we leave to our children is a place where every young mother can build a better life for her child. . . where every family can work their way up the economic ladder. . . where every Texan can achieve their dreams and live out their own success story.

If you’re with me, click here and add your name to my letter as a sign of support. Together, we’ll break through these attacks, win this election, and make Texas even greater.

Wendy

The Dallas Morning News praised Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis for taking responsibility for fudging parts of her lifestory.

In an editorial published late Tuesday night the Texas newspaper, which first broke the story said it was "good to see Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, take responsibility for the need to be "more focused on the detail of her story.""

Davis, in recent days, has tried to pivot to the offensive in response to the Morning News's report that Davis had incorrectly said she was divorced at 19 instead of 21 and that other aspects of her life story were not as she had been saying.

The editorial, though, was not straight praise for Davis. It also said it was "disappointing" that Davis messed up the details in the first place, particularly since her campaign "has been the source of chronological error and allowed misperceptions to jell as a fact."

The editorial also criticized her campaign's attempt to try and pivot the episode about her background to an attack on Attorney General Greg Abbott, Davis's Republican opponent in the gubernatorial race. Davis has accused Abbott of fueling the entire story about her background.

"No, that's not what Abbott did," the editorial said. "No one is disputing that Davis worked hard for years and overcame obstacles that few people manage to overcome — singe mothers especially. Davis deserves credit for that. And she's right that a single mother's story of struggle is one that millions of women can identify with."

The editorial also cautions the importance of Davis messing up some of the details. It argues at one point that "the fuller picture is far more complicated and less useful as a political narrative."

FreedomWorks, the high-profile tea party group, has endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) conservative challenger Matt Bevin in the Kentucky Senate race.

"Now more than ever, we need strong fiscal conservatives who will fight to cut spending on the front lines, not the sidelines," FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement on Tuesday. "Matt Bevin is a great upgrade for Kentuckians who are serious about transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability in government."

Bevin has already been endorsed by other outside conservative groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund and The Madison Project (which has also opened get out the vote offices in Kentucky to boost the chances of defeating McConnell), but former FreedomWorks leader Dick Armey came under fire for the group's dismal one-in-four win ratio after spending more than $40 million in the 2012 election cycle.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) seems to have the backing of at least one Democratic mayor in his state if he decided to run for president.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack (D) said he'd likely support Christie if he ran for president in 2016. CNN's Jake Tapper asked Stack if Christie runs for president "will you support him?"

"I’d be inclined to support the governor, I think it would be a great for New Jersey and I think he’d be a great president," Stack said. "But I think right now, his job has got to be focus on New Jersey. I don’t think the presidency should even come up right now. I think it should be focused on New Jersey, focused on what we need to put more jobs out there and do what he talked about today."

Tapper then asked if Christie could recover from the allegations surrounding him related to the George Washington Bridge scandal.

"I think -- I think he will bounce back. I think people driving this have their own political agenda, which is something that we'll be seeing," Stack added. "I think a lot of them have ambitions for higher office and it's not about New Jersey. I think it's about self-serving. "

(Photo credit: Youtube)

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) is going after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, her Republican opponent in the governor's race, in response to a report that she "blurred" details of her background.

Davis's comments are in response to a Dallas Morning News report which said she was 21, not 19 when she was divorced and lived for only a few months in a mobile home. Davis's campaign released a statement highlighting Abbott's attacks based on the report:

We're not surprised by Greg Abbott's campaign attacks on the personal story of my life as a single mother who worked hard to get ahead. But they won't work, because my story is the story of millions of Texas women who know the strength it takes when you're young, alone and a mother.

I've always been open about my life not because my story is unique, but because it isn't.

The truth is that at age 19, I was a teenage mother living alone with my daughter in a trailer and struggling to keep us afloat on my way to a divorce. And I knew then that I was going to have to work my way up and out of that life if I was going to give my daughter a better life and a better future and that's what I've done. I am proud of where I came from and I am proud of what I've been able to achieve through hard work and perseverance. And I guarantee you that anyone who tries to say otherwise hasn't walked a day in my shoes.

Davis, in an the interview with the Dallas Morning News, admitted that her "language should be tighter."

"I'm learning about using broader, looser language," Davis said. "I need to be more focused on the detail."

Conservatives were quick to attack Davis as a liar but, as The New Republic noted, it's important to keep a few details in mind through this entire episode. Davis was separated from her first husband, Frank Underwood, when she was 19 or 20. She lived in a mobile home a few months after that before moving in with her mother. She divorced Underwood at 21 and, by then, was living with her daughter Amber in an apartment.

Rev. William Barber, president of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) in North Carolina, described Sen. Tim Scott (R) as a ventriloquist dummy for tea party Republicans.

Barber made the comments of Scott, the African American junior senator from South Carolina, during a fiery on Sunday.

"A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy," Barber said during the speech to members of South Carolina's NAACP according to The State newspaper. He added that "the extreme right wing down here (in South Carolina) finds a black guy to be senator and claims he's the first black senator since Reconstruction and then goes to Washington. D.C., and articulates the agenda of the Tea Party."

Barber repeatedly attacked conservative Republicans in the speech also saying that "we must not give up the so-called high moral ground to the right-wing extremists."

According to the Associated Press, Barber also listed ways Southern governors and Republicans in Congress have mistreated Americans. The Associated Press said Barber ticked off a list that included "leaving the Confederate flag to fly on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse to refusing federal money to expand Medicaid and allowing poor schools to fall further behind."

Barber has been an outspoken figure in North Carolina's "Moral Mondays" movement, in which some liberals have been arrested while protesting right-wing legislation at the state capitol. He has strongly criticized the state legislature in North Carolina for passing restrictive voter ID laws.

Scott said he would refuse to respond directly to Barber.

"To reflect seriously on the comments a person, a pastor that is filled with baseless and meaningless rhetoric would be to do a disservice to the very people who have sacrificed so much and paved a way," Scott said in a statement provided to TPM. "Instead, I will honor the memory of Dr. King by being proactive in holding the door for others and serving my fellow man. And Rev. Barber will remind me and others of what not to do."

Photo credit: Facebook

(H/t: Aaron Blake at The Washington Post)

This post was updated.

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