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

Even as the jobs picture continues to improve steadily, the rise in gas prices is taking a toll on President Obama's approval rating on the economy, according to a new ABC/Washington Post poll.

Thirty-eight percent approve of his handling of the economy while 59 percent disapprove, the survey found. The same poll's numbers last month were 44 and 53, respectively.

Tellingly, the public said it disapproves of his handling of the "situation with gas prices" by a 65-26 margin.

A president cannot materially sway gas prices, which are set on the world market, but Americans tend to blame their president anyway when costs rise. Republicans have seized on this as a political weapon, and the White House is eager to fight back and make the case for Obama's energy policy.

Former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who's running for his old House seat this year, crashed into a bus Saturday, according to the local WESH Orlando TV station.

Grayson, the local newscaster reported, was driving his Mercedes when he "ran a red light and slammed into [a] bus." Two passengers on the bus were injured and taken to the hospital, but are expected to recover, WESH reported, adding that police deemed Grayson at fault for the incident and will cite him. Grayson's car was significantly damaged.

The Orlando Sentinel adds that the passengers' injuries were "slight."

President Obama called Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday to express his "shock and sadness" over the tragic killings of 16 civilians at the hands of a U.S. soldier, and promise accountability, according to the White House.

The White House statement added:

President Obama extended his condolences to the people of Afghanistan, and made clear his Administration's commitment to establish the facts as quickly as possible and to hold fully accountable anyone responsible. The President reaffirmed our deep respect for the Afghan people and the bonds between our two countries.

Their Senate majority widely believed to be in peril this November, top Democrats are invoking favorable events of late to raise expectations for holding on to the chamber, expressing a bullishness about the prospect that has been previously unforeseen.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), asked Sunday if he believes his party will stay in control, responded, "I sure do."

"We feel really good," Reid said on CNN's State of the Union. "We've have some tremendous -- we've had some good fortune in North Dakota, in Massachusetts, in Nevada, in Arizona. We have good candidates all over. And I feel very comfortable about where we're going to wind up in November."

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President Obama said the killings of 16 civilians in Afghanistan at the hands of a U.S. soldier are "tragic" and "shocking." In a statement Sunday afternoon, he said he will hold accountable whoever was responsible.

Here's the full statement:

I am deeply saddened by the reported killing and wounding of Afghan civilians. I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering. This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan. I fully support Secretary Panetta’s and General Allen’s commitment to get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday pushed back on Rick Santorum's suggestion the night before that the improving economy could damage the GOP's odds in the November elections.

"Well, no, I don't think he's right at all," Graham said, asked about Santorum's comment on ABC's This Week.

Graham didn't address the possibility that the economy could improve, instead calling the recovery "anemic" and said "the policies of the president are going to make it impossible for this country to recover."

On Saturday, Santorum said: "You know, the economy may be getting better and Republicans may lose their edge on that issue. Well, if that was the only issue in this race, that may or may not be the case, we don’t know."

In an unusually candid admission, Rick Santorum said Saturday that the improving economy could conceivably hurt the Republican Party's odds of victory in the 2012 elections.

Here's what Santorum said last night -- full quote via Memphis Newspaper, and part of it corroborated by ABC News.

“You hear now the media starting to say, oh well, looks like the economy is getting better,” Santorum told supporters Saturday night in Springfield, Mo., shortly after the Associated Press declared him the winner of the Kansas caucuses. “You know, the economy may be getting better and Republicans may lose their edge on that issue. Well, if that was the only issue in this race, that may or may not be the case, we don’t know.”

He added that “the point is that’s the point — we don’t know what the big issue of the day is going to be when it comes to national security. It may be the dominant issue, national security with Iran on the precipice of getting a nuclear weapon, Israel feeling increasingly isolated by this administration.”

The GOP has walked a fine line as the jobs picture has gradually improved in recent weeks and months, eager not to be seen as rooting for economic failure but equally desperate not to give President Obama any credit.

Notably, Santorum openly mulled the possibility Saturday that other issues could play a greater role come November.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Sunday that he "promised nothing" to Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) in the lead-up to his decision to run for his old seat.

"Anyone that knows Bob Kerrey knows that you don't need to make a deal with Bob Kerrey," Reid said on CNN's State of the Union. "He's running because he wants to run. He loved the Senate. He's coming back. Bob Kerrey and I had conversations not over a few days, but over many, many months. And the things we talked about were between the two of us. But Bob Kerrey was promised nothing."

The majority leader, pointedly questioned about it by Candy Crowley, said he offered Kerrey no enticements in the realm of committee seats or other posts, arguing that those decisions are made after elections.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) downplayed reports that President Obama's reelection campaign recently informed Democratic leaders that it will not be utilizing its funds to help congressional Dems in the November elections.

"I don't know why anyone's concerned about the conversations that we had," Reid said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "It's the same conversation I've had with presidents over the years. They have to guard their money. I didn't expect them to bring their checkbook with them."

Reid added that he maintains a very good relationship with the White House.

CNN reports:

Nine children and three women were among 16 Afghan civilians allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Kandahar province Sunday, President Hamid Karzai said in a statement.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed that a soldier had gone off base and fired on civilians before turning himself in, but did not say how many victims there had been. 

The soldier who's believed to be responsible for the tragic incident was condemned by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).