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The Plum Line: May 16, 2010 - May 22, 2010

Saturday Roundup

* The latest on the Times/Blumenthal war: Politico reports that The New York Times did, in fact, possess the full video of Richard Blumenthal's incriminating speech -- but still posted a truncated one omitting the part where he described his...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 22, 2010; 10:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (63)
Categories:  2010 elections , Political media , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Happy Hour Roundup

* Now that Rand Paul has canceled his appearance on Meet the Press, it goes without saying that the show would never consider inviting on the guy who got the most votes in the Kentucky Senate primary, Dem Jack Conway....

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 6:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (80)
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , Happy Hour Roundup , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Rand Paul camp cancels Meet the Press because "he's had a long week"

Betsy Fischer, the executive producer of Meet the Press, just Tweeted that Rand Paul is trying to cancel his appearance on the show this Sunday. I just reached Fischer, and she tells me Paul's camp asked to cancel because "he's...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 5:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
Categories:  2010 elections , Political media , Senate Republicans  
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Latest Lowden tale worse than chickens-for-checkups?

Forget chickens-for-checkups. There's another tale unfolding around Sue Lowden that could prove to be a lot dicier -- the tale of the spiffy campaign bus she accepted from a contributor, in potential violation of campaign finance law. And there's been...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 3:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Rand Paul ducks question about minimum wage

Rand Paul's remarkable interview this morning with George Stephanopoulos is getting lots of attention because of his criticism of President Obama for being too tough on British Petroleum. But there's another, perhaps more telling, nugget that came at the very...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 2:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (115)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Republicans  
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Sestak vows aggressive campaign on "accountability"

I spoke at some length with Joe Sestak late yesterday, and he offered a glimpse of the campaign he's planning against GOP foe Pat Toomey: A very aggressive one tying Toomey to failed GOP deregulatory policies and centered on the...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  2010 elections , Financial reform , Foreign policy and national security , Health reform , Joe Sestak , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Rand Paul is still ducking the core issue

Maybe I'm wrong. But I think people still aren't focused enough on the core issue at the heart of the controversy over Rand Paul's comments about the Civil Rights Act. Specifically: Paul, the darling of the Tea Partyers and one...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (115)
Categories:  2010 elections , Political media , Senate Republicans  
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The Morning Plum: New SEIU ad rips Lincoln

* Labor unleashes ad against Blanche Lincoln: The SEIU is going up in Arkansas with a tough new ad slamming her for voting with George Bush and being in the tank with Big Oil and Gas. A source sends over...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 8:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  2010 elections , Financial reform , Morning Plum , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Happy Hour Roundup

* Remarkable: Rand Paul, on CNN just now, was still refusing to say whether he'd have voted for the Americans With Disabilities Act. When Wolf Blitzer asked him if he didn't know for sure whether he'd have supported it, Paul...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 20, 2010; 6:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
Categories:  2010 elections , Happy Hour Roundup , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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What Rand Paul really believes

It's worth stepping back and considering the larger story here. It took a raging national media controversy to persuade the GOP Senate candidate in Kentucky to state unequivocally that the Federal government should have the power to tell restaurants they...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 20, 2010; 4:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Republicans  
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Rand Paul spox: Fed gov't should bar businesses from discriminating

A spokesman for Rand Paul just clarified to me that the candidate does, in fact, believe that the Federal government should have the power to ban private businesses from discriminating based on race. Paul had earlier claimed he didn't support...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 20, 2010; 2:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (74)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Republicans  
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What do Rand Paul's patrons think of Civil Rights talk?

National Republican strategists have to be aghast at the way Rand Paul, the newly minted Senate candidate from Kentucky, has suddenly burst into the news for appearing to oppose portions of the Civil Rights Act. This is the worst possible...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 20, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Blumenthal: "I wore the uniform in Vietnam"

The Stamford Advocate is now claiming to have unearthed another damning quote from Richard Blumenthal, this time from the Veterans Day parade in Stamford on November 9th, 2008: "I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back to all...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 20, 2010; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (79)
Categories:  2010 elections , Political media , Senate Dems  
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The Morning Plum

* Read of the morning: The political world braces itself for sharp-elbowed, hard-charging, furniture-breaking Chuck Schumer as the next Senate Majority Leader. Key nugget: Despite Obama's ties to Richard Durbin, a senior Obama official flatly predicts: "Chuck Schumer is the...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 20, 2010; 8:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , House Dems , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Happy Hour Roundup

* Angry Democrats scuttle efforts to end debate on financial reg reform, because they see the bill as too weak. * Russ Feingold explains why: The current bill won't avert a future crisis. * Ouch! A brutal exchange between Michael...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 19, 2010; 6:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
Categories:  2010 elections , Financial reform , Happy Hour Roundup , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Times defends posting of clipped Blumenthal video

The New York Times, in a statement sent my way, is now defending its decision to run a shorter version of an explosive video of Richard Blumenthal in 2008 falsely claiming service in Vietnam -- even though a longer version...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 19, 2010; 4:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (52)
Categories:  2010 elections , Political media , Senate Dems  
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Blumenthal told truth on same day he fibbed

Now this sheds a bit more light on the Richard Blumenthal mess. The Associated Press has now obtained a longer version of the 2008 video that surfaced yesterday showing Blumenthal making a speech and fibbing about his military service, leading...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 19, 2010; 2:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
Categories:  2010 elections , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Who woulda thunk it: Fact-checking is popular!

Has anyone else noticed that the Associated Press has been doing some strong fact-checking work lately, aggressively debunking all kinds of nonsense, in an authoritative way, without any of the usual he-said-she-said crap that often mars political reporting? I asked...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 19, 2010; 12:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Financial reform , Political media , Supreme Court  
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Lowden denies chickens-for-checkups comment

Flash: Must-watch chickens-for-checkups video. Forget last night's results. This is way more important. Exactly 42 days after Sue Lowden first committed the original chickens-for-checkups gaffe, she's still struggling to put it behind her -- and now she's explicitly denying originally...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 19, 2010; 10:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
Categories:  2010 elections , Health reform , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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The Morning Plum

* With everyone feverishly sorting through yesterday's results, the broad consensus is that anti-incumbent fervor primarily drove the stinging rebukes of the establishment-backed Dem candidates. * But: While anti-incumbent sentiment was no doubt a factor in the stunning upset of...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 19, 2010; 8:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
Categories:  2010 elections , Financial reform , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Election night open thread

10:58 p.m.: Another big result: Dem Mark Critz has prevailed over GOPer Mark Burns in the special election for Pennsylvania's 12th. This contest, the only direct matchup between a Dem and a Republican, was widely seen by commentators as the...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 8:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (87)
Categories:  2010 elections , House Dems , House GOPers , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Happy Hour Roundup

* Quick note on tonight: The polls close in Pennsylvania at 8:00 E.T. and in Arkansas at 8:30 E.T. Readers: Let me know what you're seeing on the ground, or if you have any predictions or any sense of what's...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  2010 elections , Financial reform , Happy Hour Roundup , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Turnout light in Pennsylvania

A quick report from the field in Pennsylvania. Voter turnout is light in virtually all parts of the state, particularly in Philadelphia, the office of the Secretary of State confirms, developments that are likely to favor Joe Sestak. Arlen Specter...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 4:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems  
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Richard Blumenthal will survive

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal just wrapped up his damage control presser, and it seems obvious enough that he'll survive this mess. Quick reaction: * It was obviously a well-staged event; he was joined on the stage by veterans who...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (80)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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National Dems standing by Blumenthal

UPDATE, 2:13 p.m.: Here's more: The DSCC has just released a list of past quotes from Blumenthal being straight about his record. **************************************************************** National Dems appear to be standing firmly behind Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the heavy favorite in...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 1:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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McMahon camp scrubs reference to Blumenthal oppo hit

Richard Blumenthal; Linda McMahon; lied about Vietnam service; blumenthal vietnam

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 11:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Redford to Obama: Show leadership on energy

Incredibly, there are still no signs that the massive environmental calamity in the Gulf will prove a real game changer, as the Beltway cliche has it, in the Senate's ongoing climate change debate. President Obama, for instance, has not used...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Climate change , Senate Dems  
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Richard Blumenthal video: 'I did not serve in Vietnam'

Here's some video of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal -- who is under fire for embellishing his war record -- stating clearly in a high-profile setting earlier this year: "I did not serve Vietnam." The video, which was sent over...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 9:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (64)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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The Morning Plum

* What to watch today, in addition to Pennsylvania and Arkansas: Dan Balz says the single race that may hold the most clues to what's happening nationally is the too-close-to-call contest for John Murtha's Pennsylvania seat: The culturally conservative district...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 8:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  2010 elections , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Supreme Court , Tea Party  
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Happy Hour Roundup

* Ed Rendell tells ABC's Top Line that Joe Sestak's ad tying Arlen Specter to George Bush is "disingenuous." Yeah? Seems a lot more defensible than the original party-switching deal with Specter that Rendell and company foisted on all of...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 17, 2010; 6:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  2010 elections , Financial reform , Happy Hour Roundup , Political media , Senate Dems  
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Liberals were right about futility of bipartisanship

There's another fascinating revelation buried in The Promise, Jonathan Alter's new book on Obama's first year: Specifically, it turns out key players on health care had decided early on that the quest for GOP support was futile -- yet they...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 17, 2010; 4:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
Categories:  Health reform , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Yes, Halter and Sestak are challengers from the left

Let's be clear about this: Bill Halter and Joe Sestak, in broad terms, represent challenges from the left, and their success is fueled by the energy and intensity of liberal activists. There's a meme bubbling that this isn't really true...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 17, 2010; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , Health reform , Joe Sestak , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Obama Robocall: Lincoln 'on side of workers'

Here's another sign of how heavily invested the White House and Dem establishment are in helping Blanche Lincoln stave off challenger Bill Halter: President Obama has cut a robocall for the incumbent, arguing that Dem primary voters should back Lincoln...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 17, 2010; 12:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  2010 elections , Health reform , Senate Dems  
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White House bracing for Arlen Specter loss?

If this is true, it's significant: CBS chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer is now saying that he has it on good authority that the White House is privately bracing for Arlen Specter to lose tomorrow. Schieffer, to my knowledge, has...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 17, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
Categories:  2010 elections , Political media , Senate Dems  
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The Morning Plum

* With tomorrow shaping up as a huge day in politics, the political classes are gearing up to interpret the long-term significance of the results. If Joe Sestak prevails and Blanche Lincoln is forced into a runoff, brace yourselves for...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 17, 2010; 8:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , Financial reform , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Supreme Court  
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Specter hits Sestak for favoring ... gun control

So it's come to this: In a bid for conservative and rural Pennsylvania Dems, Arlen Specter is now using targeted ads to attack Joe Sestak for getting an "F" rating from the National Rifle Association. In a targeted way, Specter...

By Greg Sargent  |  May 16, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (59)
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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