Daniel Strauss

Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper's Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Daniel

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) sent out perhaps the most straightforward email of any politician, especially a former comedian like Franken.

Franken's fundraising pitch on Friday was very simply titled "Fundraising email."

"Yes. This is a fundraising email," Franken wrote. "See, here's a contribution link: Can you give $5 or more today?"

Franken goes on to warn about Republican-leaning special interest groups.

"Karl Rove and his special interest friends don't like how I've spent my time in the Senate standing up to big corporations and special interest groups," Franken continued. "So they're going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at us."

Franken concluded email thanking his supporters for reading and then reminding them, once again, that he's asking for money.

"P.S.: Yes, you may have guessed it again —this is a fundraising P.S. Can you help us hit our goal by contributing $5?"

See the email below:

A Democratic operative in South Carolina responded to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's (R) tweet highlighting a Beretta PX4 Storm pistol she got from "Santa" with a gun photo of his own.

South Carolina Senate Democratic Caucus Political Director Phil Bailey tweeted out a photo of himself and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D), who is running against Haley in 2014, with a shotgun.

Bailey also tweeted a photo of Sheheen shooting.

The tweet came a day after Haley wrote her own tweet about her new pistol, which was a Christmas gift from her husband.

"Our family had a wonderful Christmas together!" Haley tweeted Thursday. "I must have been good Santa gave me a Beretta PX4 Storm."

Haley has a concealed carry weapons permit. Sheheen is also a gun owner, according to South Carolina's Post and Courier.

(Photo credit: Phil Bailey)

(H/t: The State)

The tea party group Americans for Prosperity is out with a set of ads blaming two first-term House Democrats for Americans losing their healthcare coverage under Obamacare.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) spending over $600,000 on the ads, which hit Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH). The ads are tailored to each candidate, and the one targeting Kuster features a woman speaking directly to the camera.

"Millions of people can't see their own doctors, and millions are paying more and getting less. Obamacare doesn't work, it just doesn't work," the woman said. Then a voiceover in the ad directs viewers to "tell Congresswoman Kuster to stop thinking about politics and start thinking about people."

The Nolan ad is much more dramatic. In it a man named Randy Westby talks about how his insurance plan was canceled under Obamacare.

"I received notice that my insurance was no longer qualified," Westby said. "I have had three heart attacks in the last six years. Healthcare is something that's essential and my life depends on it."

A narrator in the ad then interjects.

"Obamacare is hurting Minnesotans and Congressman Rick Nolan voted to keep it," the narrator said.

"Congressman Nolan, Obamacare needs to be repealed. It was a big lie," Wesby then said.

The ads are especially notable given that AFP stayed out of the effort that was popular among tea partiers to defund Obamacare.

Nolan opposed repealing Obamacare but he's also criticized President Barack Obama for the rollout of healthcare.gov. Kuster and Nolan also voted in favor of the House GOP Keep Your Health Plan Act in November, according to Politico. That proposal aimed to let Americans keep their health insurance plans through next year.

Watch the Kuster ad here.

Watch the Nolan ad here.

(Photo credit: YouTube)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will deliver a speech at the Gridiron Club's annual 2014 dinner.

Cruz will be the Republican speaker at the prestigious dinner. A Democratic speaker has not been picked yet, according to Politico.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) were the speakers last year.

What's also notable about Cruz speaking at the dinner is that a number of previous Republican presidential hopefuls delivered a speech at the dinner. Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), former President George H.W. Bush and former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) all spoke at the dinner in years past.

Cruz has regularly been mentioned as a strong possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) got a primary challenger this week.

Former state Sen. Randy Brogdon (R) announced Wednesday that he plans to run against Fallin in the GOP primary.

On his website Brodgon said he planned to file the paperwork to challenge Fallin this week.

Brogdon previously ran against Fallin for the GOP nomination back in 2010. He also served as a state senator for Oklahoma's 34th district from 2002 to 2011.

Fallin's office needled Brogdon for making his announcement on Christmas day.

"Governor Fallin is celebrating the birth of our Savior," a statement from Fallin's office said according to Oklahoma's KFOR. "Mr. Brogdon can use this day to discuss politics. We will not."

Fallin has also been an indirect target of the Democratic National Committee recently. Earlier in December the DNC released an ad attacking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for making an appearance at a fundraiser for Fallin.

(H/t: Huffington Post)

Updated: December 26, 2013, 4:42 PM

Outside conservative groups quickly denounced the Chamber of Commerce for planning to spend tens of millions to boost pro-business Republicans against challenges from ultra-conservative primary challengers.

The groups responded to a report in The Wall Street Journal that said the Chamber of Commerce plans to spend $50 million to support pro-business establishment Republicans and take control of the Senate in the next election cycle. Those Republicans are the ones outside conservative groups like The Madison Project, FreedomWorks and Senate Conservatives Fund hope to replace with tea-party backed conservative primary challengers.

"Special interests in Washington will do whatever it takes to protect big government Republicans," Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote in an email to TPM on Thursday. "Their ability to get future bailouts, kickbacks, and other favors depends on it."

Read More →

Republicans now have a slight lead on a generic congressional ballot, meaning that Democrats have dropped 13 points in the last two months, according to a new poll.

The CNN/ORC poll released Thursday found that a Republican candidate leads a Democratic candidate on the generic ballot, 49 percent to 44 percent. The new findings from the mid-December poll are a switch from two months ago when Democrats had the advantage over Republicans on the generic ballot. Back then, the same polling outlet found Democrats leading Republicans on the generic ballot, 50 percent to 42 percent.

The shift from Democrats leading on the ballot to Republicans leading on the ballot follows two months in which national attention moved away from the government shutdown and to problems with the rollout of healthcare.gov.

Most of the shift from Democrats to Republicans on the generic ballot comes from movement among male registered voters, CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

"Virtually all the movement toward the GOP has come among men, " Holland said. "Fifty-four percent of the female voters chose the Democratic candidate in October; 53 percent pick the Dem now. But among male voters, support for Democratic candidates has gone from 46 percent in October to just 35 percent now."

Holland added that the lead could easily switch back to Democrats in the generic poll.

"A year before the 2010 midterms, for example, the Democrats held a 6-point lead on the generic ballot but the GOP wound up regaining control of the House in that election cycle, thanks to an historic 63-seat pickup," Holland said.

The new CNN/ORC International poll was conducted from Dec. 16 to Dec. 19 among 1,035 adults nationwide over telephone. The poll had a error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Former U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez (R-MA) apologized Monday for attacking two Republican activists and saying they and their supporters are part of a "Klan."

On Facebook Gomez criticized GOP activist Rob Eno and Worcester, Massachusetts Republican activist Chris Pinto "an embarrassment to our civil society." Gomez described their supporters as a small "Klan."

GoLocalWorcester published his apology Monday evening:

I’ve always said that leaders should admit when they are wrong. That starts with me. Over the weekend, I regrettably used inappropriate language to share my disagreement with some with whom I disagree on specific social and policy-related issues. While attempting to speak out against those who question the commitment of fellow Republicans, I used careless language in characterizing their views that clouded the point I was trying to make. I was wrong to do so, and I apologize to Rob Eno and to Chris Pinto. Leaders have a responsibility to share their views in a respectful way. In this instance, as someone who understands the slings and arrows of political life, I failed to live up to the standard of discourse every leader should strive for.

Earlier in the day, in an interview with the Boston Globe Gomez said he was not referring to the Ku Klux Klan when he used the word Klan.

"If I wanted to refer to the Ku Klux Klan, I would have just said KKK," Gomez told the Boston newspaper.

The Republican congressional candidate who said Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson is the "Rosa Parks of our generation" is now saying he was not making a "literal comparison" and that it wasn't about skin color.

The statement follows the candidate, Ian Bayne, who is running in the GOP primary against Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), saying that Robertson was really making a defense against the persecution of Christians.

"We are a Christian nation based upon the foundation of free will and individualism," Bayne said in the new press release on Monday. "People know this, and those who have come here from other countries to practice a religion other than Christianity, know and desire this as well. The comparison between Parks and Robertson is based on the recent persecution of Christians, and not in skin color or literal comparison."

Bayne previously told TPM that that he thought comparing Robertson to Parks was complimentary to Parks.

"To me, not knowing him, it is clear that he wanted to expose the, what I call, persecution of people who are open Christians. What better way to do it than in an open interview not on your television show so A&E can't argue some breach of contract," Bayne told TPM. "So having seen that I believe and I thought it was complimentary to Rosa Parks because I see Rosa Parks as a courageous person that stood up in the face of a system that was bad and said hey, enough is enough."

Bayne's comments followed an interview Robertson did with GQ where the Duck Dynasty star said that he did not believe African-Americans were mistreated during the Jim Crow era in the United States. Robertson said "not once" did he see blacks receiving mistreatment.

"Where we lived was all farmers," Robertson said in the interview. "The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. "

Photo credit: Ian Bayne for Congress.

This post was updated.

The liberal group Americans United for Change is out with a new ad blitz attacking Republicans for failing to come to an agreement with Democrats over extending unemployment insurance benefits before the end of the year.

"Who had a merry Christmas? The richest one percent," a voiceover in the ad, airing nationally, said. "Republicans in Congress made sure of that, protecting billions in taxpayer giveaways and for those facing tough times, Republicans stripped 1.3 million Americans of jobless benefits — folks who want to work but cannot find a job."

The voiceover in the ad continues that "It's wrong to leave more than a million Americans behind. Tell Republicans restore unemployment benefits now."

The national ads, which are set to air Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 are accompanied by new polling results commissioned by Americans United for Change and conducted by Public Policy Polling showing bipartisan support for extending unemployment benefits.

The ad and the memo come just a few days after President Barack Obama blasted House Republicans for leaving for the holidays without compromising with Democrats on extending unemployment insurance. In a Friday press conference Obama said that extending unemployment insurance should be the first order of business when Republican lawmakers return in January.

(Photo credit: YouTube)

Watch the ad below: