Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. 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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Joe Walsh, Flailing in the Polls, Sticks it to the 47 Percent

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) probably could have picked a better time to come rushing to the defense of Mitt Romney. On Tuesday, a new survey from Public Policy Polling showed the first-term tea partier trailing Democratic challenger and Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth by 14 points (52–38) in his Chicagoland district. Just 35 percent of voters said they approved of his job performance.

But Walsh, a bombthrower famous for overheated floor statements and dismissive critiques of his political rivals—he recently suggested that Duckworth, a double-amputee, was not a "hero" because she talks about her military service too much—doesn't appear to be toning things down. While other Republican candidates across the country are distancing themselves from Mitt Romney's suggestion that 47 percent of Americans are moochers, Walsh came to the GOP presidential candidate's defense at a campaign stop on Saturday in Roselle, Illinois:

He didn't say it as probably exquisitely as he should have said it...But what Mitt Romney meant to say was this: Here's why this is the most important election in our nation's history: Because we are at a very scary point right now where there are too many Americans dependent upon government right now. Or as a very wise woman told me in the last campaign, we have too many people in the wagon and not enough people pulling the wagon. And if we don't get this election right, the people pulling the wagon are going to put the wagon down and say, "You know what? I've had it, I'm tired." That's what this election is all about.

Here's the video, captured by the liberal super PAC CREDO:

Walsh's hardline on the 47 percent would make a bit more sense if Romney were at least polling well in the district. But Walsh has hitched his horse to the wrong wagon: Only 40 percent of voters in the 8th district say they'll vote for the former Massachusetts governor this fall.

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WATCH: Scott Brown Staffers "Tomahawk Chop" at Warren Volunteers

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 11:12 AM EDT

This is how you kill a talking point. On Monday, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) released a new television ad hammering his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, for identifying herself as part Native American to her employers at Harvard Law School. On Tuesday, the progressive blog Blue Mass Group published this video, which shows at least three two top Brown staffers shouting Indian war whoops and making tomahawk gestures at a group of Warren supporters:

The Warren volunteers had gathered outside of a Brown campaign event in Boston on Saturday.

Brown's Native American attack always had an air of desperation to it, but this video of his aides—according to Boston ABC affiliate WCVB, that's Brown's deputy Chief of Staff Greg Casey and Constituent Service Counsel Jack Richard in the video—would seem to further complicate his efforts.

Update: Brown's response, per WCVB: "It is certainly something that I don't condone. The real offense is that (Warren) said she was white and then checked the box saying she is Native American, and then she changed her profile in the law directory once she made her tenure."

Quick Reads: "The Signal and the Noise" by Nate Silver

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don't 

By Nate Silver

PENGUIN PRESS

Nate Silver, now the New York Times' resident stat-head, began earning his rep as something of a whiz by devising a probabilistic model that changed the way baseball franchises evaluate players. And during the 2008 election, he correctly predicted the winner of 49 states and all 36 Senate races. But his book isn't a victory lap, it's a confession: We're not as smart as we think we are. From the housing bubble to political science, the best and perhaps the brightest routinely blow the biggest calls because they can't separate the signal (truth) from the noise (distractions). We'll risk one prediction, though: Silver's book will be hard to put down.

This review originally appeared in our September/October issue of Mother Jones. 

"Romney's Balls" Found...at Scott Brown Presser

| Mon Sep. 24, 2012 10:20 AM EDT

A Massachusetts Democrat sends along this photo, from the Boston Herald, of top Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom lurking behind the scenes at a campaign press conference for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Friday in Boston:

Mark Garfinkel/Boston HeraldMark Garfinkel/Boston Herald

Two things: 1) "Lurking Fehrnstrom" should be a meme. 2) Fehrnstrom's appearance at the presser (he was at the Thursday debate, too) comes at a time when Brown himself is going out of his way to distance himself from Fehrnstrom's other big client, Mitt Romney. Brown distanced himself from Romney's 47-percent remarks, and (briefly) hedged on whether he was even going to vote for his former governor in November. But it's a lot tougher to distance yourself from Mitt Romney when Romney's right-hand man is hanging out in your office.

Aside from that, it's noteworthy that Fehrnstrom is still multi-tasking this late in the race, even as his top client, Romney, is finishing up his worst month of the campaign. As Jason Zengerle put it in a profile for GQ, "If Karl Rove was Bush's brain, then Fehrnstrom is Romney's balls." So why are Mitt Romney's balls chilling at a press conference about Elizabeth Warren's ancestry?

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