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Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

With the Supreme Court now at least considering a definitive statement in favor of gay marriage and support for marriage equality now practically a litmus test issue for Democratic politicians, Americans across the political spectrum are expressing surprise at how rapidly this once marginalized idea became something like a national consensus. Though equality remains law in fewer than a dozen states and no one is holding their breath to get gay married in Alabama or Arkansas, everybody gets that the debate is largely over. Even archconservative thought leader Rush Limbaugh has admitted it's only a matter of time. But if you were surprised at how quickly marriage equality happened, get ready for another shock: pot's going to be legal too. The same demographic and cultural changes that propelled marriage equality to majority status are already pushing support for legal pot to the same place.

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Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) accidentally tweeted a dollar sign about 40 minutes ago, but she found a funny solution to the social media mistep. Check out Ayotte's flub and the funny response she subsequently sent to herself below. 

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, attended the annual White House Easter Egg Roll this morning and the event yielded some amusing presidential photos. Along with the pictures of the President and First Lady standing next to a bizarre, costumed Easter bunny, Associated Press White House Reporter Nedra Pickler shared an adorable shot of the President trying to calm a crying child at the event, which is expected to bring 30,000 guests to the White House throughout the day. 

"POTUS consoles a crier in the chaos at the #EasterEggRoll," wrote Pickler. 

Though it seemed like President Obama scored with the child, he reportedly did not perform nearly as well when he tried to play basketball at the event. According to Pickler, President Obama, who is an avid hoops player, took 15 tries to make one shot and went 2 for 22 overall. 

 

 

One of the most closely watched questions in this year's New York City mayoral election is who will get the endorsement of outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, so it was rather interesting when one of Bloomberg's top advisors, Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs and Communications Howard Wolfson, was spotted in the crowd at a press conference held by Republican candidate Joe Lhota at City Hall today. However, Wolfson, whose offices are inside City Hall, told TPM we shouldn't see his appearance at the event as an indication Mayor Bloomberg is mulling a Lhota endorsement. 

"You should take it as an indication that I needed to go to Starbucks," Wolfson said.

Bloomberg has enjoyed a good relationship with another one of the mayoral candidates, Democratic City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and has long been widely expected to be giving her his support in the race. However, in January, the New York Times cast doubt on his commitment to Quinn with a report Bloomberg reached out to a slew of high profile figures including Senator Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton and encouraged them to run to succeed him.

 

This morning, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a new online ad campaign aimed at 17 "vulnerable" House Republicans who backed Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget. DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson told TPM the group targeted by the ads aren't necessarily the most vulnerable GOP House members and are a sampling of the larger group of Republican seats the Democratic campaign organization sees as potentially changing hands in 2014.

"This group is a sample of the 50-60 we see in play. All of those are potentially vulnerable," Ferguson said.

Ryan plays a starring role in the ads, which describe his budget as a "radical vision for America" and feature a clip of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein describing Ryan's plan as "Robin Hood in Reverse. The DCCC launched a similar attack on Ryan's buedget late last month, but these web videos name each of the targeted House members as sharing Ryan's "radical vision." Ferguson said the 17 Republicans named in the ads were chosen for targeitng based on a "variety of factors" including their perceived vulnerability for attacks based on the Ryan budget. 

View the full list of House Republicans named in the ads and the version of the video made for California Congressman David Valadao below. 

AR-02             Tim Griffin

AR-04             Tom Cotton

CA-21             David Valadao

CA-31             Gary Miller

CO-06             Mike Coffman

IN-08              Larry Bucshon

MN-02            John Kline

MN-03            Erik Paulsen

NE-02             Lee Terry

NJ-03              Jon Runyan

NY-11             Michael Grimm

NY-23             Tom Reed

OH-14             David Joyce

OH-16             Jim Renacci

PA-08              Mike Fitzpatrick

VA-02             Scott Rigell

WA-03            Jaime Herrera Beutler

 

After weeks of escalating threats, the North Korean regime released a series of photos Friday morning through its official news organ, Korean Central News Agency, showing the secretive nation's leader, Kim Jong Un, huddling with military officers and going over what appears to be plans for a rocket attack against the United States. In spite of these threats, however, mayors and other officials in the cities supposedly under threat seem to be taking the saber-rattling in stride.

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Rebel Diaz, a rap group based in the Bronx, released a video this week that paid tribute to deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Entitled "Work Like Chavez," the song, which featured lyrics in English and Spanish, defended the late leader against charges of human rights abuses and undemocratic tactics and implied the US government killed Chavez.

"The commandante man, I know they killed him," one of the rappers said.

Presidents Obama and Bush were both criticized by name in the song and one of the rappers referenced a famous 2006 speech Chavez made before the U.N. General Assembly in which he called President Bush "the devil" and said the General Assembly smelled like "sulfur" after Bush spoke there.

"Time to step it up 'cause I still smell sulfur," the rapper said. "Still smell the money in this capitalist culture."

Rebel Diaz did not respond to a request from TPM to discuss the song. Watch the video for "Work Like Chavez" Below.

 

(Photo Credit: YouTube)  

Love was in the air this week as the Supreme Court took up the issue of gay marriage. But as justices heard arguments dealing with couples who have already found the loves of their lives, not everyone was so lucky.

Some court watchers were apparently stung by Cupid's arrow and were too timid to make their move. As a result, they turned to the Missed Connections section of Craigslist in an effort to reconnect with the people who caught their eye as lawyers argued over California's gay marriage ban and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

TPM scoured Craigslist and found several hopeful romantics who missed their match on the courthouse steps, in the subways of Washington, D.C. and even at a notorious New York sex party:

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ended a speech Thursday by saying there's only one man in New Jersey who makes him appear small -- Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ). 

"I've always said I love campaigning with Jon Runyan because it is the only time, I mean the only time, in New Jersey that anybody says, 'Hey who's the big guy with Christie?" the governor said.

Before getting into politics, Runyan spent 14 years in the National Football League as an offensive tackle. According to the NFL, he is 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 330 pounds.

Watch a video of Christie's remarks below. His comment about Runyan appears about 2:50 into the clip.

 

It doesn't sound like Buckingham Palace will be taking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) up on his offer to watch over Prince Harry during the young royals' visit to the Garden State. A spokesman for the palace declined to comment when we asked about the comments Christie made about Prince Harry in a local radio interview earlier this week.

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