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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

Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), the conservative challenger to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), argued that hip-hop and a society that "values rap and destruction of community values" is the reason for gun violence.

McDaniel made the comments in the promo for a syndicated radio program he hosted from 2004 to 2007. Those comments were flagged Saturday by the Darkhorse Mississippi blog and reported Tuesday by Mother Jones.

"The reason Canada is breaking out with brand new gun violence has nothing to do with the United States and guns," McDaniel said in the teaser. "It has everything to do with a culture that is morally bankrupt. What kind of culture is that? It's called hip-hop."

The corrupting aspects of hip-hop, per McDaniel, aren't based on race. It promotes "destruction of community values," he said.

"Name a redeeming quality of hip-hop. I want to know anything about hip-hop that has been good for this country. "And it's not—before you get carried away—this has nothing to do with race. Because there are just as many hip-hopping white kids and Asian kids as there are hip-hopping black kids. It’s a problem of a culture that values prison more than college; a culture that values rap and destruction of community values more than it does poetry; a culture that can’t stand education. It’s that culture that can’t get control of itself."

In the same segment McDaniel argued that waterboarding, as used on Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks, was an effective tool only demonized by liberals.

"Waterboarding is something they do to people to make them talk. It is torture, to the liberals. It is a fairly humane form of torture, if you classify it as such," McDaniel also said. "Here's what happens: You make the guy believe he's going to drown. And as you know it's a pretty strong fear—drowning. Well this guy, Muhammad, he spoke all day. He spoke all night. Anything and everything, just let me avoid the waterboard. Because you see Mr. Muhammad here apparently had a problem with drowning. And that worked."

In 2013 news broke that the tea party favorite attended at least one Neo-Confederate event.

McDaniel is a favorite of outside conservative groups and has been endorsed by The Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks and The Madison Project.

Virginia state Del. Barbara Comstock, the former Republican opposition researcher and ex-chairwoman of Scooter Libby's defense fund, is taking her next step in politics: she's running for Congress.

Comstock announced Tuesday that she's running to succeed outgoing Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Comstock is the first Republican to officially jump into the race for Wolf's seat since he announced his retirement, according to Roll Call.

Prior to jumping into political office Comstock conducted opposition research for the Republican National Committee. She also chaired the defense fund for I. Scooter Libby and served as the lead investigator for the House Government Reform committee in the 1990s when it was chaired by Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN).

Comstock, first elected to Virginia's House of Delegates in 2010, is running for a competitive district. Democrats see Wolf's seat as an excellent pickup opportunity and its Cook Partisan Voting Index has it leaning very slightly Republican. The district went narrowly for Mitt Romney in 2012 and also narrowly for President Barack Obama in 2008.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) has a warning for the GOP: Democrats' only path to victory in the 2014 elections is through legalizing immigrants living in the country illegally.

"It only helps the Democrats if we legalize all these illegal aliens in this country who the Democrats want to put on federal welfare programs – and actually, they are on federal welfare programs today," Broun said in an interview with Georgia Public Radio. "The Democrats want to make them all basically dependent on the federal government so they can continue their radical, big government agenda…."

Democrats are hoping that Michelle Nunn, who is running for Senate, and state Sen. Jason Carter (D-GA), running for governor, will act as a vanguard to help shift the state from a Republican stronghold to a friendlier state for Democrats. Indeed, there's a case to be made that that's a possibility (albeit hardly a sure thing) that Democrats could shift the political makeup of the state. Broun went on to say though that Democrats only chance of wrenching the state from GOP hands is in legalizing immigrants living in the state illegally.

"The only way Georgia is going to change is if we have all these illegal aliens in here in Georgia, [and] give them the right to vote," Broun continued. "It would be morally wrong, it would be illegal to do so, under our current law. Actually, all these illegal aliens are getting federal largesse and taking taxpayer’s dollars."

"That’s the only way this state is going to become Democratic again, in the next number of decades,” he said.

Broun also seemed to take a jab at one of his primary opponents, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who's considered the more moderate of the top tier candidates running in the GOP primary to succeed Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).

"The only way that a Democrat has any possibility of winning this race—and frankly, I think it is very minor at that—is if we nominate a mamby-pamby, big-spender, big-government, big-earmarking Republican who is nothing but somebody who wants to build a bigger government, just like we’ve seen both parties build in Washington," Broun said. "That may give a Democrat the chance to win. But otherwise, when I’m nominated, I’ll be the most-electable candidate out of the whole Republican field that’s out there now in this race."

(H/t: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Republican National Committee's first paid ads of 2014 hit vulnerable Democrats on Obamacare.

Specifically, the RNC is aiming to hit 12 Democrats up for re-election in 2014 in radio ads on what Republicans call the Lie of the Year.

"President Obama and [Senator/Representative] said if you like your insurance plan you can keep it under ObamaCare," the voiceover in the ads said, unveiled Tuesday. "They lied to you. Big time. PolitiFact called that the 'lie of the year.' Millions will lose their insurance—and their doctors. 2014 is your chance to hold [Senator/Representative] accountable. Tell [him/her] this is one New Year’s resolution you’re sticking to."

The ads are a continuation of a line of attack Republicans feel will be effective among not only the most vulnerable Democrats but even Democrats in relatively safe districts.

The ads target both House and Senate races: Sens. Mark Begich (AK), Mark Pryor (AR), Mark Udall (CO), Mary Landrieu (LA), Kay Hagan (NC), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Jeff Merkley (OR) and Mark Warner (VA); Reps. Bruce Braley (IA), Gary Peters (MI), Tim Bishop (NY) and Nick Rahall (WV). Both Braley and Peters are running for Senate.

The ads are scheduled to run in Spanish, English, Korean and Vietnamese. The ads are running in about 40 markets around the country, according to the RNC.

In a press conference call touting the ads Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that Obamacare would continue to be the major issue Republicans use on the offensive throughout 2014.

"It is going to be the number one issue in 2014," Priebus said.

Priebus added that these ads were meant to "set the stage" for 2014.

"I think it's important for us to start setting the stage with these candidates in terms of what's coming their way and what they're going to have to contend with," Priebus said.

Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), has endorsed the tea party challenger to Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX).

On Monday the elder Cruz endorsed Dallas tea party leader Katrina Pierson.

"She's a strict constitutionalist," Cruz said of Pierson at a fundraiser according to the Dallas Morning News. "She's a strong conservative and she wants to do what's right."

Pierson supported Sen. Ted Cruz when challenged Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) in the 2012 Texas Senate Republican primary.

Sessions supporters bristled at the endorsement noting that although Pierson got a nod from Cruz's father, who is popular in tea party circles, it still wasn't an endorsement from the senator himself.

"He's speaking for himself, former Dallas County Republican Party chairman Jonathan Neerman said according to the Morning News. "Ted Cruz has not endorsed in this race."

Pierson herself has suggested that Sen. Cruz might eventually endorse her (although Cruz has indicated that he plans to stay out of Republican primaries).

(Photo credit: Youtube)

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) seems to want to forget about his old campaign committee.

On Dec. 30 Stockman, who is challenging Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), registered a new campaign committee, Steve Stockman for Senate, according to the Center for Public Integrity. The thing is, Stockman already has a campaign committee —Friends of Congressman Steve Stockman, which is currently carrying $163,000 in debt, according to federal records.

What's more, since 2012, Friends of Congressman Steve Stockman amended its financial disclosures to the FEC 35 times in order to "correct various errors or irregularities" the Center for Public Integrity. Those changes include trying to explain campaign donations that aren't legal.

The amendments to the financial disclosures come a few months after the Houston Chronicle reported that two congressional aides to Stockman improperly contributed money to Stockman's congressional campaign.

Stockman has struggled to wage an even decently organized campaign. In December TPM reported on the Stockman campaign headquarters, which had been recently shut down by local Texas officials for fire code violations.

The Georgia Republican Party has scheduled seven —seven!— Senate debates for the nomination to succeed outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). The dates and locations, released Monday, are below:

January 18, 2014 – Adel, Georgia

February 1, 2014 – Kennesaw, Georgia

February 22, 2014 – Gainesville, Georgia

March 8, 2014 – Macon, Georgia

March 29, 2014 – Savannah, Georgia

April 19, 2014 – Augusta, Georgia

May 10, 2014 – Columbus, Georgia

The announcement came a day after Democrat Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee in the race, announced raising $1.6 million in the last quarter of 2013.

A handful of candidates are competing for the GOP nomination in the Georgia Senate race. So far there has been no clear frontrunner.

Shutterstock/ Hailin Chen

The campaign arm for House Democrats hailed Rep. Jim Gerlach's (R-PA) decision to not seek another term as the latest sign that moderate Republicans are "jumping ship" within the Republican Party.

Gerlach announced Monday that he would not run for another term.

"John Boehner and the Tea Party put up the ‘No Moderates Allowed’ sign on their caucus and now the few remaining moderates are jumping ship from a Congress that is so broken that its leaders have already admitted they will do nothing this year to help hardworking families," Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said in a statement on Monday.

Israel went on to list a trio of other House Republicans who recently announced that they would not run for reelection.

"Jim Gerlach marks the twelfth Republican to retire or resign, joining others like Tom Latham, Jon Runyan and Frank Wolf who have decided to retire rather than continue to defend this indefensible Republican Congress’s reckless dysfunction that is hurting the middle class and failing to create jobs," Israel said.

Israel argued that Gerlach's announcement leaves Democrats with a big opportunity to pick up a swing district. Gerlach's sixth congressional district went for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election and President Barack Obama in 2008.

"As these Republicans jump ship, Democrats’ battlefield for 2014 continues to expand," Israel said. "Republicans now have to defend this competitive district because the Democratic candidate will be committed to strengthening the middle class, focusing on job creation and taking commonsense steps like increasing the minimum wage, while the Republican candidate will be beholden to the same type of Republicans who now run this dysfunctional Republican Congress."

A conservative super PAC that attacked Republican Liz Cheney throughout her Senate campaign said in a post-mortem memo that her biggest vulnerability was her position on same-sex marriage.

The American Principles Fund released the memo early afternoon. The super PAC, which is run by Sarah Huckabee, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), has accused Cheney of being inconsistent on same-sex marriage. Throughout her campaign Cheney battled with her sister, Mary, on same-sex marriage. Mary, who is openly lesbian, is married to her long-term partner and has two children.

"Cheney's greatest vulnerability from day one was her position on marriage - after we introduced her position on marriage in a statewide television buy her internal numbers collapsed," Huckabee said in an email to TPM. "The message from Wyoming is clear - marriage matters and it's a winning issue. Abandoning traditional marriage can have serious political consequences, particularly in a Republican primary. Going forward APF will be involved mostly in general elections, helping Republicans defeat Democrats, but when there is a clear contrast in a Republican primary, like in WY, we aren't afraid to weigh in and make the contrast for candidates who stand for our values."

Read the memo below:

APF WY Post-mortem

The tensions between members of Liz Cheney's camp and supporters of Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) seem to be disappearing quickly in the aftermath of Cheney's decision to end her primary challenge against the incumbent senator.

Cheney reached out to the daughter of former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) late Sunday night to tell the Simpson family she planned to end her candidacy, Simpson told TPM on Monday. Simpson had opposed Cheney's candidacy and gotten into verbal dustups with members of the Cheney family while Liz was campaigning. Simpson eventually got in touch with Cheney Monday morning.

"So, this morning Ann and I called Liz here in Wyoming, a 307 number," Simpson recounted. "We talked to her and she said I'm stepping out of the race. 'It's a mom thing' she said. 'We had a wonderful holiday and talked about things with the whole family.'"

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