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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 is the only one in the nation that flipped from Democrat to Republican in the 2008 presidential race. And it is exactly the kind of area Republicans must win in November to take control of the House. Each of the national parties has poured more than $1 million into the district.

* Here's why national Dems are feeling good about that race.

* Arlen Specter has done a bang-up job persuading people that he's got a better shot at winning the general election, but it just so happens that the empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

* Reuters gets it right: "Democrats Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas face strong tests from the left."

* Eric Kleefeld reports that Obama has also cut a robocall for Specter, illustrating yet again how heavily the Dem establishment has invested in defending incumbents from Dem challengers.

* The stunning news that Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal never served in Vietnam despite saying otherwise means we may have another contested Senate race on our hands.

* But: Marc Ambinder says Blumenthal's camp will strongly deny the story at a presser today and may be able to put it behind him, though the "facts are not unambiguous."

* And: In an odd strategic move, potential GOP opponent Linda McMahon's campaign is openly taking credit for providing the oppo research that produced this revelation, making it easier to dismiss it as a poiltical hit.

* And: National Dems appear to be standing by Blumenthal, pointing to his stint in the Marine Corps Reserves at Parris Island, even if he's clearly said on occasion he served overseas. DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz emails:

"Its no surprise Republicans would want to smear the Attorney General, considering all of the debauchery at the WWF under Linda McMahon's watch. Unlike others, Dick Blumenthal served his country, enlisted and served six months at Parris Island, SC, and six years in the reserves."

* And: Blumenthal is admitting he misspoke when he claimed in 2008 to have served in Vietnam, and as recently as March, Blumenthal clearly stated that he had not served abroad.

* Forget chickens-for-checkups. Now Sue Lowden has a really serious problem on her hands: She may have violated campaign finance law by accepting a contributor's donation of an RV for use on the trail.

* President Obama hopes his new commission on the Gulf spill resembles commissions set up to examine the Space Shuttle Challenger and Three Mile Island disasters

* The next big fight in Congress: Dems may pass a war-funding bill without any GOP support.

* The press corps loves them some Tea Partyers: The Lexington Herald-Leader of Kentucky is stunned by the enormous amount of national media interest in whether Tea Party candidate Rand Paul can prevail over GOP establishment favorite Trey Grayson.

* And the Associated Press, which has been doing really aggressive reporting of late, weighs in with a new fact check of another attack on Elena Kagan: "Elena Kagan is no ivory-tower peacenik."

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  May 18, 2010; 8:21 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Supreme Court , Tea Party  
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Next: Richard Blumenthal video: 'I did not serve in Vietnam'

Comments

Max Blumenthal lost my respect by leaving even the littlest bit ambiguity over whether he served in Vietnam or not. This is a guy talking about his own record. No matter if a speech writer or somebody else made a mistake or were vague HE KNEW BETTER. But I will say this, Linda McMahon screwed the pooch. I don't think Blumenthal should get a pass on this one but people who like him and the work he has done as AG may be willing to over look it since it now appears to be a hit job. And how about the liberal New York Times pushing a story as if they did all this work researching it when in fact it was handed to them on a silver platter?

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | May 18, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

"National Dems appear to be standing by Blumenthal, pointing to his stint in the Marine Corps Reserves at Parris Island, even if he's clearly said on occasion he served overseas."

That should tell any honest person all one needs to know about this corrupt and sleazy party.

It is now a "smear" to reveal that this slimeball Democrat a fraudulent Vietnam vet.

Unbelievable that the DNC would defend his lies and attack the opposition for bringing his corruption to light.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 18, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

And to the certain end of helping the US become a better country, Bristol Palin hits the speaker's circuit. There'll be the Smithsonian appearance, another at the 92nd Street Y, probably one at NASA and perhaps a panel discussion with Desmond Tutu and Stephen Hawking.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/18/bristol-sarah-palin-speakers-circuit

Posted by: bernielatham | May 18, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Blumenthal is toast.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3KgsgRfjhQ

What a despicable piece of garbage.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 18, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Blumenthal doesn't impress me and if this Vietnam BS is true that should be the end of him. Democrats should NOT make the mistake of following him off the cliff.

Enjoy the day, you Poli-Junkies!
Go Halter!
Go Sestak!

Posted by: wbgonne | May 18, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Dick Cheney prefers Whitman to Poizner. Poizner, you see, had Richard Clark campaign for him and what sort of conservative would be doing that?!
http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/california-248902-bush-poizner.html

Posted by: bernielatham | May 18, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps Bristol Palin and Stacey McCain or whatever her name is can do a series of debates, since the McCain airhead is supposed to be the smart one and the future of the GOP.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 18, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

It's a good notion, QB. But I want you there with them.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 18, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

As the wife of a Vietnam Vet with many "unprivileged" friends who were drafted, Blumenthal's misrepresentation of his service is pretty disgusting. I'm assuming there's some smoke where there's fire in this case.

We'll see how they try to spin this one. I don't know anything about him otherwise so I guess the people in CT will have to decide if he's worthy of their vote.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 18, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

My guess is that this GOP Connecticut Senate contender won't be among the veterans flanking Blumenthal when he makes his defiant last stand against the media and world at large.

http://joinrobsimmons.com/meet-rob


I don't know who is favored on the GOP side. Perhaps someone else does.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 18, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Greg,
The 'face strong opposition from the left' meme -- the policies of the two Senate candidates in Pennsylvanian and Arkansas are not that different. So electing the two new democratic party senators won't shift the Senate much leftwards. What is different is the 'trustworthy Democrat' aspect of the job. Many times the individual senator's vote for or against the bill is less meaningful than the messaging. Neither Lincoln or Specter are reliable on either the vote or the messaging. The vote sometimes doesn't matter, but the messaging always does.

There is a component of Party Discipline in the primary challenge and since the Democratic Party is supposed to be to the left of the GOP these primaries do put a marker on how Republican the most conservative Democrats can be without penalty.

The new guys won't change the Left/Right composition in the new Senate. They WILL change the accountability a little bit.

Posted by: grooft | May 18, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Greg,
The 'face strong opposition from the left' meme -- the policies of the two Senate candidates in Pennsylvanian and Arkansas are not that different. So electing the two new democratic party senators won't shift the Senate much leftwards. What is different is the 'trustworthy Democrat' aspect of the job. Many times the individual senator's vote for or against the bill is less meaningful than the messaging. Neither Lincoln or Specter are reliable on either the vote or the messaging. The vote sometimes doesn't matter, but the messaging always does.

There is a component of Party Discipline in the primary challenge and since the Democratic Party is supposed to be to the left of the GOP these primaries do put a marker on how Republican the most conservative Democrats can be without penalty.

The new guys won't change the Left/Right composition in the new Senate. They WILL change the accountability a little bit.

Posted by: grooft | May 18, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

As Josh says re Blumenthal..."One thing that's very clear is that this is the kind of bad press that makes a twenty point lead really come in handy." http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2010/05/toast_or_just_singed.php?ref=fpblg

Posted by: bernielatham | May 18, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Cute double-whammy in the Poizner ad attacking Whitman (Goldman Sachs/porn)...
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/05/poizner-meg-whitman-used-to-sell-porn-video.php?ref=fpb

But, we'll note, no Richard Clarke in her campaigning. So, values-wise, she the real conservative.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 18, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"One thing that's very clear is that this is the kind of bad press that makes a twenty point lead really come in handy."

That's the kind of integrity that sets Democrats apart.

The video of him lying will become a great commercial.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 18, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The Pentagon has “ordered the videotaping of all detainee interrogations conducted by military and defense personnel if the questioning is aimed at gathering ’strategic intelligence’ and is conducted on major U.S. military bases.” The new regulations, issued last week, exclude combat situations where soldiers are interested in “ground-level enemy tactics.”
(from Think Progress)

About bloody time. There's a LOT this administration is getting right.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 18, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

All, the Richard Blumenthal plot thickens:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/05/video_of_blumenthal_i_never_se.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 18, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

From Ed Kilgore...

"The many engines of the MSM are gearing up to interpret tomorrow's Senate primaries in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Arkansas, and if the results in these three states go a certain way (Specter loses, Paul wins, Lincoln loses or gets thrown into a runoff), we will hear a full-throated roar of "ANTI-INCUMBENCY!", which is already the preferred meme for understanding the 2010 cycle. The subtext is usually that white independent voters--whether Tea Partiers or "centrists" or "populists"--are driving this phenomenon.

It's understandable that writers pressed for time and space will always try to force elections in widely disparate locations into a single mold, and furthermore, U.S. Senate elections are usually to some extent "nationalized," and may be so more than is usual this year.

But the dynamics of these races aren't quite that simple..."
http://www.thedemocraticstrategist.org/

Posted by: bernielatham | May 18, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Bristol Palin is to receive up to $30,000.00 per appearance, to speak about why teenage girls should practice abstinence.

The gist of her message is;

Don't become a teenage single mom, and become rich of it, like me.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 18, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The Wheels Are Off: Sue Lowden’s Felonious Assault on Campaign Finance Law http://bit.ly/cVBXAk

Posted by: JustinBarasky | May 18, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

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