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

Erick Bennett, the Republican Senate candidate in Maine who said his domestic violence conviction showed "integrity," repeatedly assaulted his ex-wife by squeezing her neck and threatening to kill her, according to a newly surfaced police report.

The report, obtained by Mother Jones and published on Friday, quotes Bennett's then-wife, Angela, describing how Bennett repeatedly attacked her in January 2004.

"Erick got off the bed, put both hands around my neck, squeezed my neck and said "Leave me alone," Angela said at one point in the police report.

Angela later describes how, after that, she was "feeling extremely nervous."

"He got up as if to go to his coat to get the check but instead turned around toward the bed and I just knew we was gonna come after me so I got up to head for the bathroom saying, 'Please Erick I'm sorry' but he grabbed me and got me on the floor and pressed me down," the police report quoted Angela as saying. "Then he started saying "What are you doing? Sit still? Why are you doing this?" As if I was fighting back and he needed to defend himself. "

Maine law enforcement redacted some names from the police report but together it paints a highly graphic picture of the events that resulted in Bennett being convicted of domestic assault. Earlier in January TPM highlighted a Bangor Daily News report of Bennett, who is challenging Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Republican primary, arguing at a press conference that his decision to fight the domestic violence conviction (he continued to maintain his innocence) shows his integrity as a candidate for office. He later dropped out of the race.

"The fact that I have been jailed repeatedly for not agreeing to admit to something I didn’t do should speak to the fact of how much guts and integrity I have," Bennett said. "I've noticed some people questioning that."

You can read the police report here.

(Photo credit: Facebook)

Not only is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) not apologizing for saying Democrats think women can't control their reproductive system without the help of the government, he's fundraising off those comments.

"I am apparently the worst conservative ever or at least the most annoying one according to the left wingers in Washington today," Huckabee wrote in his regular MikeHuckabee.com email to supporters Thursday night. "My remarks to the RNC today were immediately jumped on and blown sky high by hand-wringing, card carrying liberals from coast to coast, some of them in the media."

The email came hours after the former Arkansas governor, during a speech at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting, said Democrats "insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government."

In the email Huckabee also asks for donations to his political action committee so his critics can look at the committee's fundraising and "say see we told you so."

"Guess what liberals? If you can't stand to look at yourself in the mirror, then get ready for more of this talk, because conservatives are going to continue to fight back against your destructive policies towards women and families," Huckabee continued in the email.

One of the craziest potential match-ups in the Republican Senate primaries this year promised to be Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) -- but early momentum for Stockman quickly fizzled.

Stockman, whose tea party bona fides include threatening to impeach President Barack Obama over new gun control restrictions and comparing Obamacare to sexually transmitted diseases, doesn't seem to be making much of a dent in the poll numbers after his last-minute entry into the Senate primary. Stockman couldn't even emerge victorious in a local Texas tea party straw poll and has even recently been missing from congressional votes. And though it's still early in the 2014 cycle, Stockman's lackluster campaign might be indicative of how insurgent tea partiers challengers are faring against establishment Republicans. So far, it's looking increasingly like the so-called tea party wave, which peaked in 2010, might be headed toward a valley this time around.

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House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the highest-ranking woman in Republican House leadership, will deliver the official rebuttal to President Barack Obama's State of the Union on January 28.

House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) office announced Thursday that the No. 4 House Republican would deliver the response.

"I am honored to speak with Americans in every corner of the country on Tuesday and to share our Republican vision for a better future – one that trusts the American people and doesn’t limit where you finish because of where you started," McMorris Rodgers said.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will give the Tea Party's rebuttal.

White House press secretary Jay Carney was quick to denounce former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's (R) comments that the government shouldn't provide co-pay-free birth control because women can't control their reproductive system or "libido."

"I haven't seen that report, but whoever said it sounds offensive to me and to women," Carney said Thursday.

Carney's response came very shortly after Huckabee, speaking at the annual winter meeting of the Republican National Committee, said that Democrats want women to believe they are "helpless."

"If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be," Huckabee said.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said that the government shouldn't help women who can't control their "libido or their reproductive system" by providing co-pay-free birth control and that Democrats are encouraging women to be "victims of their gender."

Huckabee made the comments during a speech at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting on Thursday.

"If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be," Huckabee said.

Huckabee argued that Democrats "think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication."

Huckabee also argued that his party is not waging a war on women.

"The fact is the Republicans don't have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender," Huckabee said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about Huckabee's comments shortly after he made them.

"I haven't seen that report, but whoever said it sounds offensive to me and to women," Carney said.

Slate political reporter Dave Weigel pointed out that Huckabee had actually made similar comments recently.

"The ridiculous claim that a pro-life position is a "war on women" is an insult to the millions of women who make extraordinary sacrifices for their children," Huckabee said on the most recent episode of his Sunday show. "For Democrats to reduce women to beggars for cheap government funded birth control is demeaning to the women that I know who are far more complicated than their libido and the management of their reproductive system."

Huckabee has made other, similar comments in the past. He's argued that "wives graciously submit to their husband's sacrificial leadership" and supported then-Rep. Todd Akin's (R-MO) "legitimate rape" comments.

It's been a banner week for former Republican governors. A few days earlier former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) defended himself against criticism for referring to Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer (D) as a "lady mayor" in responding to accusations of intimidation by Zimmer toward New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) administration.

This post was updated.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) holds a commanding 14-point lead over Republican opponent Ed Gillespie in the Virginia Senate race according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey released Thursday.

The poll found Warner with 51 percent support to the former RNC Chair and Bush adviser's 37 percent among likely Virginia voters. Two percent of those surveyed picked another candidate in the race and 9 percent said they were undecided.

A separate poll of Virginia voters by the Watson Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University also found Warner with a comfortable lead. That poll found Warner leading Gillespie 50 percent to 30 percent among Virginia voters.

The Rasmussen and Watson Center findings come just two days after another poll, this one by Roanoke College, found Warner with a wide lead over Gillespie in the Senate race. That poll found Warner with 50 percent support to Gillespie's 21 percent support.

Republicans have seen a pickup of Warner's seat as a long shot but still indicated that Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is likely the best candidate to try and defeat Warner.

Tea party candidate and Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) reported raising $500,000 in the ten weeks since he entered the race to defeat Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS).

In a state like Mississippi a $500,000 haul can go a long way. McDaniel has $350,000 cash on hand in the race, according to The Hill.

Cochran has not released his fundraising numbers yet but through the end of September, he had reportedly raised $800,000 in his campaign funds. Mississippi's Clarion Ledger reported that Cochran raised $300,000 at a fundraiser earlier in the week.

McDaniel has made national headlines when it was reported that he attended at least one Neo-Confederate event in his state. TPM has also reported that McDaniel has blamed gun violence in the country on hip-hop and argued that there are not enough Muslim villains in movies.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins signaled he was open to running for Sen. David Vitter's (R-LA) Senate seat.

Vitter, earlier in the week, formally announced his candidacy for governor in 2015. Because he's not up for reelection until 2016 Vitter can run for governor without giving up his Senate seat.

Perkins suggested to The Hill on Wednesday that he would run for Vitter's Senate seat if the current senator was elected governor.

"I never say never anymore," Perkins told The Hill.

Perkins has hinted at possibly running either for Congress or Senate before. In the same interview with The Hill Perkins also jabbed at Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who's running in the Senate race against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

"I think his problem is his record. He's been pretty weak on the issues. If the Republicans want to win, they actually need to find a stronger candidate," Perkins said.

Cassidy is running against two other Republicans in the primary: Air Force Colonel Rob Maness and state Rep. Paul Hollis. A number of conservative outside groups have backed Maness over Cassidy. Perkins was asked if any of the candidates in that race appealed to him. He responded "not that has come to the forefront yet." Asked if he would consider running against Landrieu, Perkins said he "rather somebody else" do it.

Perkins, TPM readers may recall, isn't new to criticizing other Republicans. When then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) urged then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) to drop out of the Missouri Senate race Perkins warned Brown to be "careful."

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)