Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

President Barack Obama trumpeted his signature health care law Thursday in Largo, Md., five days ahead of the date its insurance plan exchanges are set to open for business.

"The Affordable Care Act is here," the president told the crowd in a speech at Prince George's Community College. "I don't have to tell you it was a challenge to get it done."

Obama pointed out that despite staunch Republican opposition -- and over 40 votes in Congress aimed at repealing Obamacare -- the health care law passed both houses of Congress and was upheld by the Supreme Court. The health insurance exchanges are slated to open on Oct. 1.

The State Department renewed a "worldwide caution" alert Wednesday night following an attack last weekend on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya by an al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group. 

"Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East," the alert read. "These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings."

The alert replaces a worldwide caution issued in February. In early August, the State Department ordered the temporary closure of embassies and diplomatic posts in the Middle East and northern Africa out of an "abundance of caution" for terror threats emanating from the Arabian peninsula.

The Florida branch of the Armed Citizens Project, a group that seeks to arm "law-abiding citizens," was advertising free shotguns in an Orlando neighborhood as part of an effort to stop crime, WESH reported Tuesday.

Members of the group distributed fliers advertising free shotguns door-to-door in the Sunshine Gardens section of Orlando. The state program director for Florida, Ron Ritter, told the news station that the group hopes to work with gun manufacturers and dealers to arm residents with free or discounted firearms. 

"This is perfectly legal, permitting guns to be handed out," Ritter said.

One resident said she didn't see the need for a drive to arm her neighbors. Robin McLaughlin, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, told WESH that although the group's giveaway may be legal "that doesn't mean we should all have a firearm."

Earlier this year, the Armed Citizens Project announced a similar shotgun giveaway in Tucson, Ariz.

[Image via zimand / Shutterstock]

Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) told his side of a recent heated encounter with Lynne Cheney to the Casper Star-Tribune this week, confirming that the former vice president's wife told him to "shut up."

“She just said, ‘Shut up,’” Simpson told the newspaper during an interview on Tuesday. “You can just read into it what you want to. I don’t know what she meant. She was very intense.”

Simpson's daughter-in-law, Deb Oakley Simpson, wrote on her Facebook page Saturday that Cheney confronted Simpson at a fundraiser in Cody, Wyo. over his support for Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY). Enzi is facing a primary challenge from Cheney's daughter, Liz Cheney, and the Facebook post suggested the confrontation was about the race.

But the former senator told the newspaper the dispute stemmed from an interaction a few weeks earlier at an fundraiser in Laramie, Wyo. Liz Cheney's daughter asked Simpson to sign a football at that event, a request he said he declined out of concern the football would be used for campaign purposes.

Lynne Cheney described a similar interaction in a statement emailed from her daughter's campaign to the Star-Tribune.

“It was about Al’s blowup at the FMC event in Laramie, when my 15-year-old granddaughter asked him to sign a football to be used to raise money for cancer patients in Rock Springs,” Cheney said of the confrontation at the Cody fundraiser. “Al was rude to my granddaughter and I told him he was out of line. The topic was not Mike Enzi.”

Simpson told the Star-Tribune that he's often signed footballs that were later used for charity or campaign purposes, and said that when he refused, "that obviously set off something."

The former senator told the newspaper that he wasn't sure if he'd stump for Enzi during the primary campaign.

"It’s a deep-, deep-, deep-rooted friendship,” he said of Enzi. “I didn’t have that friendship with Liz.”

Vice President Joe Biden celebrated New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control advocacy Wednesday at a Clinton Global Initiative gala, praising his push for tougher gun control laws as "contagious."

"Your passion about reducing gun violence in this country is something that has become contagious,” Biden said while presenting the Clinton Global Citizen award to the mayor, as quoted by the New York Daily News.

“One of the things that President Obama said at the memorial for the victims of the Navy Yard shooting is that change isn’t going to come on this issue from Washington, it’s going to come to Washington,” he continued. “And when it does it will be … because Mike has sent it.”

Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns group pushed for gun control legislation that failed in the Senate earlier this year, which would have required background checks on firearms purchases via the Internet and at gun shows. Recently, the group gave $350,000 to the campaigns of two Colorado state senators who faced recall efforts prompted by their support for expanded background checks in that state. Both senators lost their respective recall elections earlier this month.

Accepting the award, Bloomberg pointed out his gun control efforts are "not contagious enough yet," according to the Daily News.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara were official witnesses Saturday at the Maine wedding of two old friends.

Bush and his wife attended the wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen in Kennebunkport as "private citizens," spokesman Jim McGrath told the Washington Post

“This is such a wonderful time for change in our legal system,” Clement, who said she's known Bush for years, wrote the Post in an email from the couple's honeymoon. “Who would be best to help us acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world. When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgment of being ‘real and normal.’”

While the elder Bush hasn't expressed public support for gay marriage, his son, former president George W. Bush, warned in an interview earlier this year against criticizing gay couples "until you've examined your own heart."

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) on Tuesday publicly apologized for requesting that a scheduled execution be pushed back because it conflicted with a fundraiser to kick off her reelection bid.

“I should not have requested the execution be moved. It had been (delayed) twice,” Bondi told reporters, as quoted by the Tampa Tribune.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) granted the request, moving the execution of convicted killer Marshall Lee Gore from Sept. 10 to Oct. 1. 

“And just so you know, (Gore) has filed another motion this past Friday, asking that it be (delayed) once again," Bondi said. "And we are fighting that.” 

“But I should not have moved it,” she continued. “I'm sorry. And it will not happen again. Next question.”

Bondi declined to answer a reporter who asked to confirm the delay was requested due to the fundraiser conflict, according to the newspaper. She also declined to say who in her office made the request.

This post has been updated.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that President Barack Obama was not disappointed when Iranian President Hasan Rouhani declined an offer to meet with him this week at the United Nationals General Assembly in New York.

"I think that we should not over interpret the fact that the Iranians decided against having an encounter, and that it was too complicated," Carney said during the daily press briefing.

Carney said the president remains open to meeting informally with Rouhani.

A self-described white supremacist's plans to turn the tiny North Dakota town of Leith into a white enclave could be sidelined over health code violations, the Bismarck Tribune reported Tuesday.

An order giving Craig Cobb five days to make plans for running water and a sewer outlet in his Leith home expired Monday, according to the newspaper. 

Custer District Health Unit's environmental health practitioner, Aaron Johnson, told the Tribune that since Cobb hasn't shown he has plans for potable water in his home, the structure may either be declared uninhabitable or the matter may be taken to court. Johnson said he suspects Cobb may be using an old outhouse on the property.

Cobb has so far purchased about a dozen lots in Leith in hopes of persuading fellow white supremacists to move there, according to the Associated Press.

Johnson added that two of the properties Cobb purchased, an abandoned creamery and a home the activist planned to sell to a Wisconsin man, are in the process of being condemned. The city plans on removing those structures along with nine other abandoned properties in mid-October, he said.

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) on Wednesday praised Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) marathon speech against Obamacare on the senate floor via Twitter, contrasting the senator's stamina with President Barack Obama's response to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

"Ted Cruz stayed up all night to fight ObamaCare," Stockman wrote. "Obama went to bed while Ambassador Stevens was being murdered."

The Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attack, in which four people including Ambassador Chris Stevens were killed, remains a heated issue among Republicans. Some members of Congress used the first anniversary of the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11 to suggest that the White House had failed to answer their questions and could be hiding evidence from the attack.