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9:50 AM ET, April 18, 2012

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Maggie Habermanand Emily Schultheis / Politico:
The year of the ‘surrogate’  —  Hilary Rosen.  Bill Maher.  Rush Limbaugh.  Foster Friess.  Even Ted Nugent.  —  They are the non-surrogate surrogates of the 2012 presidential campaign — consultants, public figures or quasi-celebrities who sometimes thrive on the fringes …
Jonathan Easley / The Hill:
Romney says ‘vast left wing conspiracy’ in media is attacking him
Discussion: CNN and The Other McCain
Amie Parnes / Ballot Box:   Obama flips, re-labels his probable foe
CNN:
TRENDING: Nugent threatens death if Obama wins in November
Josh Glasstetter / rightwingwatch.org:
Nugent Compared Obama and Democrats to a Coyote that Needs to Be Shot
Jim Treacher / The Daily Caller:
Hey, if we're going to talk about how presidential candidates treated dogs decades ago, let's talk about how presidential candidates treated dogs decades ago.  —  Can you name the author of this quote? … Give up?  That's Barack Obama, writing about his childhood with his stepfather Lolo Soetoro …
Alex Sundby / CBS News:
Obama, Romney in dead heat among registered voters, CBS News/New York Times poll finds  —  CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.  —  Mitt Romney has closed the gap with President Obama among registered voters …
Discussion: Politico, GOP 12, Hot Air and Ballot Box
RELATED:
Dalia Sussman / The Caucus:
New Poll: Romney and Obama Are in a Tight Contest
Patricia Zengerle / Reuters:
Obama easily beating Romney among U.S. women: Reuters/Ipsos poll
David Zucchino / Los Angeles Times:
U.S. troops posed with body parts of Afghan bombers  —  An American soldier says he released the photos to the Los Angeles Times to draw attention to the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline.  The Army has started a criminal investigation.
Thomas L. Friedman / New York Times:
One for the Country  —  I had to catch a train in Washington last week.  The paved street in the traffic circle around Union Station was in such poor condition that I felt as though I was on a roller coaster.  I traveled on the Amtrak Acela, our sorry excuse for a fast train …
Discussion: Lawyers, Guns & Money
RELATED:
Josh Lederman / Ballot Box:
Kelly wins GOP primary in contest for former Rep. Giffords's seat  —  Jesse Kelly won a special primary election in Arizona on Tuesday, securing the Republican nomination to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).  —  Kelly, an Iraq War veteran and project manager …
Discussion: Politico
RELATED:
Rebekah L. Sanders / Arizona Republic:
Kelly to face Barber for Giffords' seat  —  Jesse Kelly won the Republican primary Tuesday and will face Democrat Ron Barber in a special election to fill the remaining months of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' term in Congress, according to unofficial results.
Discussion: Taegan Goddard's … and msnbc.com
Daniel Halper / Weekly Standard:
Michelle Obama: ‘This President Has Brought Us Out of the Dark and Into the Light’  —  Michelle Obama made a remarkable claim when talking up her husband, President Barack Obama, at a campaign event earlier today in Nashville, Tennessee.  —  “I am so in,” Michelle Obama said toward the end of her remarks.
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Investor's Business Daily:
IRS Might Have Stalinist Powers Under New Law  —  Liberty: The Republican House of Representatives may soon follow the Democratic Senate and give the IRS the power to confiscate your passport on mere suspicion of owing taxes.  There's no place like home, comrade.
Daily Mail:
Revealed; Official fears from U.S. and UK over President Obama's ‘anti-American’ and ‘anti-white’ father  —  In his three years as U.S. president, Barack Obama has been dogged by claims he is not patriotic enough.  —  Last year he even had to publish his birth certificate to silence doubters who suggested he was not born an American.
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
Tennessean.com:
'Don't Say Gay' bill advances in the House  —  Tennessee's elementary and middle school teachers could face more pressure not to talk about homosexuality with their students next year after the so-called Don't Say Gay bill cleared a House education committee Tuesday.
Andy Baio / Wired:
Memeorandum Colors 2012: Visualizing Bias on Political Blogs  —  I don't watch sports, but every four years, I lose myself in the horse race of the U.S. presidential elections.  That competition kicked off in earnest Monday, as Gallup started its daily tracking polls for the general election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
John Sexton / BREITBART.COM:
VAN JONES: OBAMA ‘FORCED’ TO SIT WITH ‘RACIST’ COP AT BEER SUMMIT  —  In an April 3rd appearance on the left-wing Democracy Now TV show, Van Jones has offered his own behind-the-scenes take on an incident that made race a political issue three years before the Trayvon Martin case.
BBC:
Tolkien and Dickens grandsons join for book  —  Michael Tolkien is the eldest grandson of JRR, while Gerald Dickens is the great-great grandson of Charles  —  A grandson of JRR Tolkien and a descendant of Charles Dickens are to collaborate on two new fantasy books for children.
Discussion: ArtsBeat
Steve Coleman / Associated Press:
Baptist pastor backs Romney in spite of Mormonism  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — The Southern Baptist pastor who last October called Mormonism a cult and said Mitt Romney is not a Christian is now endorsing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.  —  The pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas …
Discussion: Politico
Igor Volsky / ThinkProgress:
Catholic Priest Receives Standing Ovation For Shunning Anti-Marriage Equality Petition Drive  —  At least six Catholic parishes in Washington state have ignored the Seattle Archbishop's call to gather signatures for a referendum repealing the state's recently-enacted marriage equality law …
Discussion: Joe. My. God.
Ben Geman / The Hill:
White House threatens veto of highway bill over Keystone pipeline provision  —  The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto House legislation to extend transportation programs because it contains GOP language that mandates approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
Donovan Slack / Politico:
Biden works to rev up youth vote  —  Vice President Joe Biden rallied a standing-room-only crowd of young people in a DC theater on Tuesday night by inviting the audience to envision what the country would look like with Republicans in charge.  —  “Does anybody in this audience …
Discussion: Weasel Zippers
 
 
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 More Items: 
Ben Protess / DealBook:
Regulators to Ease a Rule on Derivatives Dealers
Discussion: Ezra Klein
Washington Post:
DOJ review of flawed FBI forensics processes lacked transparency
Discussion: The BLT and Crooks and Liars
Luke Harding / Guardian:
The World Tomorrow: Julian Assange proves a useful idiot
Michael Tarm / Associated Press:
Judges, journalists clash over courtroom tweets
New York Post:
Giving away the game
Discussion: Betsy's Page and GayPatriot
Irene Klotz / Reuters:
Space shuttle Discovery makes final flight to museum
 Earlier Items: 
Vicki Needham / The Hill:
Conrad announces budget markup for Wednesday
Pete Donohue / NY Daily News:
Brooklyn state Sen. Eric Adams wants transit workers to be armed with Tasers
Alexander Bolton / The Hill:
Senate GOP will join legal challenge against Obama's recess appointments
Discussion: Politico and Booman Tribune