Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Elizabeth Warren's Volunteer Army

The Massachusetts Senate candidate is drawing big crowds—and they're coming to work.

| Fri Oct. 28, 2011 10:15 AM EDT
Volunteers at a organizational meeting for Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren

Nick Baumann flagged this photo that Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren snapped at a campaign event at Framingham State College on Tuesday evening. It is, as he notes, somewhat unusual for a candidate to draw that kind of crowd on a weeknight, one month into a race that's still a year away from being decided. But that's actually been the norm for Warren, who despite being a first-time candidate has rolled out an impressive volunteer operation in the Bay State for her campaign against Republican Sen. Scott Brown. Warren's big crowds are all the more noteworthy given that she's only running for the seat because of the shortcomings of the last nominee, state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

In addition to 300 people at the event in Framingham, Warren drew another 100 on Wednesday night at a union hall in Springfield. And at 7:30 on Thursday morning, about 100 supporters filled the rec room at the Scandinavian Living Center in West Newton for a joint appearance with Newton mayor Setti Warren (who dropped out of the race almost as soon the other Warren—no relation—entered it). For progressives still scarred by the Coakley collapse, Warren's emergence has been cathartic.

"When I woke up this morning and I saw it was raining, I thought, 'I hope she doesn't cancel!" said Barbara Darnell of Newton, a nod to Coakley's famous declaration that she didn't want to campaign outside in the cold. "She's just gotta get out there." And she's glad the candidate showed up: Warren answered Darnell's question about the middle class (she's in favor of it) and won her over with her brief remarks.

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What It's Like to Work For Herman Cain

Not very fun, apparently.

| Thu Oct. 27, 2011 10:47 AM EDT
Herman Cain's memo for staff: speak when spoken to.

One of the most interesting stories to come out of the Herman Cain presidential campaign hasn't actually been written yet—and it might not be for a while, until after he drops out of the race, Fox News contract in hand, sometime before, during, or after, the early primaries. I'm speaking, of course, about the post-mortem, the campaign ritual in which disaffected former staffers spill the beans about what a horror show they endured for however-many months. (Joshua Green's email-heavy deconstruction of the Hillary Clinton campaign is canon for this genre.)

But the New York Times has a hint of what's to come today:

And then there was that e-mail to the staff about traveling in a car with Mr. Cain: "Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to," the memo said.

"I found it odd," said a former staff member who liked to prep Mr. Cain for appearances while driving. The aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, quit not long afterward, citing the e-mail as one of the deciding factors...

Setting up offices was also something of a trial. "When I told people, 'You'll be getting offices and phone lines,' I'd have to postpone that," the former staff member in Iowa said. "It was like they were running for sophomore class president."

Mr. Hall added, "We couldn't even get our own e-mail addresses," for the campaign.

Emphasis mine. Cain's spokesman, J.D. Gordon, notes correctly in the piece that the book tour—dismissed by many ex-staffers—has been a big success. But that's assuming that the goal of the book tour was to sell a lot of books and turn his candidate into a celebrity; if the goal was to build a campaign organization capable of getting out the vote in critical early primary states, well, Cain might have been better served by actually visiting early primary states.

Mississippi Dem Unsure What Personhood Does, Still Supports It

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Johnny DuPree says he has serious concerns about the amendment to ban abortion and some forms of contraception. But he's backing it anyway.

| Wed Oct. 26, 2011 8:24 AM EDT
Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Johnny DuPree (D).

The New York Times has a story on something we've written about a bit before—the push to pass state-level constitutional "personhood" amendments to ban abortion (among other things) by defining life as beginning at conception. Previous initiatives have fallen short, but Mississippi's personhood movement, which was initiated by a one-time Christian secessionist who backed a plan to create an independent theocracy in upstate South Carolina, has a decent chance of passing this November—at least if its high-profile endorsers are any indication:

Mississippi will also elect a new governor on Nov. 8. The Republican candidate, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, is co-chairman of Yes on 26 and his campaign distributes bumper stickers for the initiative. The Democratic candidate, Johnny DuPree, the mayor of Hattiesburg and the state’s first black major-party candidate for governor in modern times, says he will vote for it though he is worried about its impact on medical care and contraception.

Yes, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee supports the measure, which would ban abortion even in cases of rape. DuPree fleshed out his views a bit at a debate at the Mississippi College School of Law:

AUDIO: Elizabeth Warren Clarifies Her Occupy Wall Street Comments

Under fire from the Right, the Massachusetts Senate candidate tries to clarify her statement that she developed the "intellectual foundation" for Occupy Wall Street.

| Tue Oct. 25, 2011 10:03 PM EDT
Elizabeth Warren (right) is the front-runner to take on Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in 2012.

Elizabeth Warren isn't backing down from her support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, even as conservatives look to turn the nationwide protests movement into an electoral wedge issue. Speaking to reporters after an event in Framingham, Massachusetts on Tuesday, the Senate candidate downplayed her comments to the Daily Beast, suggesting that she had created the movement—but pointedly embraced their anti-Wall Street message and cast them as kindred spirits against a "rigged" economic system.

The controversy began when the Daily Beast's Samuel Jacobs published a profile of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau architect, in which  Warren was quoted saying of Occupy Wall Street: "I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do." Conservatives pounced—the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement noting that "the Boston Police Department was recently forced to arrest at least 141 of her Occupy acolytes in Boston the other day after they threatened to tie up traffic downtown and refused to abide by their protest permit limits." The Boston Globe moved Warren's comments closer to Al Gore-and-the-Internet territory, headlining its piece, "Warren claims credit for Occupy Wall St. protests."

So after an event in Framingham on Tuesday, Warren tried to clear things up a bit. She stood by her suggestion that her anti-Wall Street work had influenced the movement, while emphasizing that she believed Occupy Wall Street was a separate grassroots movement. Here's what she said when informed by a local reporter that her comments had not gone over well at Occupy Boston:

Rick Santorum Still Thinks Sodomy Should Be a Crime in Texas

Refusing to let Dan Savage win, the presidential candidate doubles down on his anti-anal agenda.

| Tue Oct. 25, 2011 12:00 PM EDT
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.)

Just in case you thought he'd had a change of heart, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum went on Minnesota rap-core evangelist Bradlee Dean's radio show on Saturday to double down on his belief that states should be able to make anal and oral sex illegal: 

Santorum pointed to the landmark case, Lawrence v. Texas, where the U.S. Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws that were used to imprison gays and lesbians.

"And I stood up from the very beginning back in 2003 when the Supreme Court was going create a constitutional right to sodomy and said this is wrong we can’t do this," Santorum said. "And so I stood up when no one else did and got hammered for it. I stood up and I continue to stand up."

You know the rest. Asked to defend his comments back in 2003, Santorum went a step further, arguing that allowing two men to have sex would be akin to "man on dog." In response, sex columnist Dan Savage held a contest to come up with an alternative definition for Santorum, and redefined it as—NSFW!—"the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex." As MoJo's Stephanie Mencimer has chronicled, the alternative definition has became a serious problem for the candidate because it's the first thing that comes up when you Google his name. (The second result is a Wikipedia entry about Savage's "Santorum" campaign.)

But what's really interesting here is the venue: When last we heard from Dean, he was suing Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, and the American Independent News Network for $50 million for quoting him, with some caveats, suggesting that the execution of gays was "moral." (Dean has explicitly condemned the execution of gays, but has, like Santorum, called for sodomy to be outlawed and gays to be banned from public office.) The crux of the lawsuit was that Dean believed liberal media outlets were using him as a proxy to assassinate Rep. Michele Bachmann's character, because Bachmann has raised money for Dean and praised (and prayed for) his ministry. He also was upset that Maddow made fun of his name. So has Dean given up on Bachmann? If the polls are any indication, he wouldn't be the only one.

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