Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where 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

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) said Friday that fellow Texan Sen. Ted Cruz's (R) presidential prospects were damaged by his 21-hour floor speech against Obamacare.

“I think what became clear this week is that he can’t be president and the reason is nobody will follow him, even people within his own party won’t follow him,” Castro said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And so I think in terms of his long term prospects it was fairly damaging." 

The Texas Democrat noted that Cruz's speech had a polarizing effect. Some of Cruz's Republican colleagues were vocal about their disapproval: Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on Thursday accused Cruz from the Senate floor of putting on a "show" instead of working to avoid a government shutdown. 

"I think that he wanted to make a big splash and he certainly has," Castro said. "He's done something that I think is unusual, which is he's made Washington worse, he's made the polarization worse."

He had tweeted a similar sentiment during Cruz's speech.

Castro added that Cruz's stance on the health care law doesn't encompass the views of many Texans.

"It was really hard to hear Ted speak about representing 26 million Texans when he was giving that talk, because there are millions and millions of Texans who are without health care coverage and who very much disagree with his point of view and who also are looking forward to the chance to get health care coverage," he said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded to critics of his 21-hour floor speech against Obamacare on Thursday, calling his Republican colleagues "scared" of taking the fall for a government shutdown.

In Cruz's first television interview since the marathon speech, Fox News host Sean Hannity asked the senator to address Sen. Bob Corker's (R-TN) accusation that he put on a "show" at the expense of sending legislation back to the House in time to avert a government shutdown. 

"I don't want to speculate about Bob Corker's motivations in coming to the floor, supporting Harry Reid and attacking Mike Lee, which is what he did this afternoon," the Texas Republican said. "Let me say this generally. A lot of Republicans, they've been here a long time. They are beaten down. They're scared that if we stand together on this and if a government shutdown results, that Republicans will be blamed and it's too politically risky."

Cruz then accused Republicans of trying to save themselves from blame for a shutdown by voting yes for cloture on a continuing resolution, then spinning that as a vote against the health care law.

"You know, some of those Republicans are telling their constituents they are going to vote for cloture," Cruz said. "They are going to vote for giving Harry Reid the power to fund Obamacare, but they're trying to convince their constituents that that's a vote against Obamacare. It just isn't."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told CBS News in an interview airing in full this weekend that pushing for a government shutdown is "irresponsible."

"I think there's got to be a solution other than that," Christie said on CBS' "Sunday Morning," adding that he doesn't think "responsible" Republican leaders are advocating for a shutdown. 

The New Jersey governor didn't call out any of the Republicans, most notably Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who are trying to link a continuing resolution to fund the government to defunding Obamacare. Christie, despite calling himself "no fan of Obamacare," enacted legislation expanding Medicaid for his state under the health care law.

"I think it’s always irresponsible if you’re running the government to be advocating for shutting it down,” Christie said. “That, by definition, is a failure. You’ve gotta work it out.”

California's Modoc County voted Tuesday to join neighboring Siskiyou County in exploring secession from the state, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Modoc County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0, with one supervisor absent, to consider joining Siskiyou County's bid to secede and band with counterparts in Southern Oregon to form a new state to be called "Jefferson," according to the Times.

A spokesperson for the Jefferson Declaration Committee, Mark Baird, told the Redding Record-Searchlight that the group would like to have a dozen counties sign onto the effort before approaching the California legislature with a secession bid.

“California is essentially ungovernable in its present size,” Baird told the Record-Searchlight. “We lack the representation to address the problems that affect the North State.”

Several Colorado counties also explored seceding to form "North Colorado" this summer, and the state's Weld County will vote on a 51st state ballot initiative in November.

Any secession bid would require the approval of both the state legislature and Congress.

This post has been updated.

Police said a man trying to place his gun in his waistband accidentally shot himself in the abdomen Wednesday night at a McDonald's parking lot in Callaway, Fla., the Panama City News-Herald reported.

Witnesses heard a gun shot and saw the man exit his vehicle holding his stomach before falling to the ground, according to a news release from police. One witness, seated in a car next to the man's Saturn, told police the man said "…I accidentally shot myself." The man was conscious and able to confirm he accidentally shot himself when police arrived on scene, according to the release.

Police also learned that the man, along with his girlfriend and her brother, had been smoking marijuana before the incident, according to the newspaper.

President Barack Obama warned Thursday in a speech on his signature health care law that glitches may occur in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges on Oct. 1.

"Folks in different parts of the country will have different experiences. It's going to be smoother in places like Maryland, where governors are working to implement it rather than fight it," the president told a crowd at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md. "But somewhere around the country, there's going to be a computer glitch and the website's not working quite the way it's supposed to, or something happens where there's some error made somewhere. That will happen."

Obama said that while opponents of the law may seize on any hiccups in the program's launch to argue against it, possible glitches won't prove that the law isn't working the way it should. 

"I guarantee you the opponents of the law will have their cameras ready to document anything that doesn't go completely right and they'll send it to the news folks and they'll say look at this, this thing's not working," he continued. "Every time they have predicted something not working, it's worked."

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.”