Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.

Articles by Sahil

Virginia lawyer and retired Army Col. Wayne Powell was on a mission in Monday night's debate -- to fire as many rhetorical shots at Eric Cantor in his longshot bid to unseat the House majority leader.

Cantor was defending his seat in a debate for just the second time since being elected to Congress in 2000. The Democratic nominee is running his first political campaign, hoping to represent a heavily Republican district, against the House's No. 2 lawmaker.

Speaking loudly and gesticulating heavily, at times as though he was rallying a crowd, Powell cast himself as a pragmatic problem-solver aiming to unseat an ideologue who has been bought by wealthy special interests.

"It is almost obscene, the millions of dollars you have earned [from big corporations]," Powell said, raising his voice. "You've got a person who supports the very barbarians, the very parasites who caused the meltdown in this country in 2008."

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Tired of calling on Mitt Romney to flesh out what tax loopholes he would close to pay for his large tax cuts, President Obama has taken a new tack: warn middle class voters of the worst, and goad the Republican nominee into proving him wrong.

It's a lose-lose proposition for Romney, who is trailing Obama in key battleground states with Election Day just weeks away, because any answer would invite further criticism.

In separate campaign trail speeches late last week, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden implied that Romney would raise taxes on middle class homeowners and Social Security recipients to cover the cost of his promised across-the-board 20 percent cut in income tax rates.

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On the Sunday talk shows, Team Romney sent conflicting messages about the upcoming presidential debate on Wednesday night, both downplaying the debate's importance and promising a stellar performance by Mitt Romney that will reshape the race.

The campaign's dueling narratives show the tricky place the Romney campaign finds itself in; Romney needs to show he can turn the race around, but also needs to avoid the dangers of setting the bar too high.

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Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," White House senior adviser David Plouffe continued to lower expectations for President Obama's debate performance on Wendesday night.

"Challengers tend to do really well in debates," he said. "That's been the history. We've believed all along that Governor Romney probably has more benefit out of this debate, potentially, than we do."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Sunday that Republicans ought not to support Todd Akin, the GOP nominee for Senate in Missouri, who made headlines with his recent remarks about "legitimate rape."

"No," Christie said on ABC's "This Week," when asked if he thinks Akin deserves GOP support. "No, I don't." 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Sunday that he doesn't buy the argument advanced by various conservatives that recent polls showing Mitt Romney trailing are biased against him.

"I don't buy that," he said on ABC's "This Week."

"I don't think it's intentional -- you look at every different poll and look at its methodology and you can say whether it's a good or bad poll. But do I think there's a concerted effort to skew the polls against Governor Romney? No, I don't buy that."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that Mitt Romney will change the shape of the race with a stellar debate performance against President Obama on Wednesday.

"He's going to [shake things up]," Christie said. "Every time Mitt Romney has been confronted in this campaign with one of these moments, he has come through in the debate and performed extraordinarily well. ... So I have absolute confidence that when we get to Thursday morning, you're going to be shaking your head and saying it's a brand new race with 33 days to go."

He added that Obama will be "very good" in the debate.

This post has been updated.

Seeking to soften his image, Mitt Romney has this week taken -- again -- to touting the health care reform law he enacted as governor of Massachusetts, saying it illustrates his "empathy and care about the people of this country."

While running for president in 2008, and the following year while the Affordable Care Act was still being crafted, Romney was actively evoking 'Romneycare' as a model for federal health reform. All that changed after President Obama signed the law in March 2010, at which point repeal became the Republican Party's raison d'être. Romney quickly latched on to the cause.

That's when the relationship between the now-Republican nominee and his signature achievement as governor grew complicated. Here's a timeline.

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Revised jobs numbers released Thursday found that 386,000 more jobs were created since 2011 than the government had previously reported -- a figure that means more jobs have been created than lost on balance during President Obama's first term.

That politically sensitive threshold has been at the center of the presidential debate. While it has little economic relevance, its political significance has been substantial, with Mitt Romney's campaign regularly reminding voters that there has been a net loss of jobs since Obama took office.

Earlier this month on MSNBC, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said President Obama "hasn't created one single net new job since he's been president."

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Even as studies expose potential flaws with his tax plan, Mitt Romney is shutting down rumblings that his campaign is hedging on the notion that he can slash tax rates by 20 percent without lowering revenues.

"The governor's plan calls for a 20% rate cut for all brackets, revenue neutrality, while ensuring that high-income earners continue to pay at least the same share of taxes," a Romney spokesperson told TPM. "All of these goals are achievable, and the governor will work with Congress to enact tax reform that meets each of the goals he has proposed."

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