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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

President Obama on Monday called on the nation's governors to boost their investments in education programs that work in their states, including higher education.

"Today, I'm calling on all of you -- invest more in education. Invest more in our children and our future," Obama said at the National Governors Association meeting. "We've got to get past the old dogmas -- whether on the liberal side, or the conservative side."

The President said the strength of the nation's education will be a critical determinant of America's ability to continue leading the world. "No issue will have a bigger impact on the future performance of our economy than education," he said. "The countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow."

He said his administration intends to work with governors to "fix" No Child Left Behind and help make college more affordable for those who want to attend. He said federal assistance to states will be affected by performances and efforts in these areas.

"I believe education is an issue that is best addressed at the state level. And governors are in a position to have the best impact," Obama said. "This is going to be something that I'm going to want to collaborate with all of you on."

"Frankly," he said, "I don't think this should be a partisan issue." The governors applauded.

Mitt Romney visited the Daytona 500 rally in Florida on Sunday, praising what he called a "quintiseentially American" sport. Asked whether the trip outside of Michigan was a sign of confidence that he would win the hotly-contested state, he replied, "No, it's a sign of a guy who loves cars." It's what happened next, though, that has set the net ablaze.

Here's how CBS News described it:

[This] should have been a chance to show he's one of the guys. Instead, in casual conversation with an Associated Press reporter at the Florida track, he reminded people once again that he is not exactly a regular Joe.

Asked by the AP reporter if he follows NASCAR, Romney responded, "Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners."

Update: You can now listen to the audio of it via this link.

The Associated Press reports more fatalities in Afghanistan:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Demonstrators hurled grenades at a U.S. base in northern Afghanistan, and a gun battle left two Afghans dead and seven NATO troops injured Sunday in the escalating crisis over the burning of Muslim holy books at an American airfield.

More than 30 people have been killed, including four U.S. troops, in six days of unrest. Still, the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan said the violence would not change Washington's course .

"Tensions are running very high here, and I think we need to let things calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere, and then get on with business," Ambassador Ryan Crocker told CNN's "State of the Union."

Rick Santorum has lamented in recent public appearances that Americans are losing their religion by going to college. Asked to defend his charge that President Obama is a "snob" for wanting all Americans to engage in higher education, Santorum repeated the claim Sunday on ABC's This Week, declaring that "62 percent of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it." He's invoked the same figure before.

A slight problem: multiple studies have found that the opposite is true -- including the one that Santorum has reportedly been referring to.

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As Congress prepares for a debate over the Obama administration's contraception rule, Senate Republican Conference Vice Chair Roy Blunt (MO) took to the op-ed pages of his homestate newspaper to frame the issue on favorable terms.

"This is not about one group, one health care requirement, or one set of beliefs. It's about protecting Americans' fundamental religious freedom," Blunt wrote in a St. Louis Today guest commentary. "What President Obama doesn't seem to understand is that this debate is not about cost. It's not about contraception. It's about the Constitution. It's about faith and who controls the religious views of faith-based institutions."

Blunt is the author of the GOP measure that would roll back the mandate and permit any employer to deny contraception -- or any other service -- in their health care plans. His op-ed is the latest reminder that the GOP strategy is predicated on turning the debate away from contraception itself, given that Americans are widely supportive of using birth control.

At a Michigan rally Sunday, Rick Santorum aggressively tore into the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a judge recently declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

He accused liberals of "populating the 9th Circuit with a bunch of radical judges," saying they should be removed in order to "send a very clear message that if you are going to be a radical judge and out of control."

"Sometimes you need to stand up to a bully," he added. "And the courts are acting like bullies."

Rick Santorum sought to portray Mitt Romney as a liberal at a Marquette, Michigan rally on Sunday and again cast himself as the true conservative in the GOP race.

"You can talk about what he did to the liberal cause," Santorum said, invoking Romney's Massachusetts health care plan as the foundation for "Obamacare."

"Why would we give away the most salient issue in this election?" he said comparing Obamacare with Romneycare. "It just makes no sense, folks."

He also said the ex-governor embraced a similar birth control mandate as President Obama.

"Governor Romney did the same thing in Massachusetts, forcing Catholic hospitals to provide the morning after pill," Santorum said.

He added: "We need someone who can create a stark contrast" with Obama. 

In remarks captured by the Portland Press Herald, Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage unloaded on the GOP 2012 field Saturday, decrying all the candidates as damaged goods after having battered each other. He said the country "deserves better" than the current crop and called for a brokered convention to pick a dark horse candidate to challenge President Obama.

"The candidates in this primary have beat themselves up so badly it would be nice to have a fresh face that we all could say, 'Okay.' The country deserves better than having people stand up and keep criticizing each other," said LePage, according to the Press Herald.

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Mitt Romney surrogate Chris Christie was asked Sunday if he'd consider being the GOP's vice presidential candidate. His response to Bob Schieffer on CBS' Face The Nation:

"You know, not really. What I'll say though to you is that if Governor Romney were to come and talk to me about it, I'd listen. Because I love my party enough and I love my country enough to listen. But I love being Governor of New Jersey, and if you're a bettin' man Bob, and I know you are -- If you're bettin', bet on me being the Governor of New Jersey into next year."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Mitt Romney surrogate, disagreed with Rick Santorum's characterization of President Obama as a "snob" for saying he wants all Americans to be able to go to college.

"I think we should aspire to let every child reach his maximum -- or her maximum -- potential," Christie said Sunday on CBS' Face The Nation. "And if Senator Santorum is against that, then I don't think that makes any sense. And I certainly don't think the President's a snob for saying that. I think that's probably over the line."

He later added: "Rick Santorum's not going to be the nominee."

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