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Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a News Writer for Talking Points Memo based in New York City. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, Tom served as assistant polling editor for TPM Media's PollTracker during the 2012 campaign. Before joining TPM, he worked on political campaigns and wrote for various publications in Minnesota and his native South Dakota. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Friday criticized Congressional Republicans for walking away from fiscal cliff negotiations "every time we are close to a solution." 

She also called on both sides to return to the negotiating table to strike a deal before the year-end deadline.

"We have no right to walk out the door of Congress without a resolution to this challenge," Pelosi said during the briefing. 

Former Republican National Committee chairman and MSNBC commentator Michael Steele on Friday said he found the press conference led by National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre "very haunting and very disturbing."

Asked by MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts for his immediate response to the NRA presser, Steele initially appeared speechless.

“I don’t even know where to begin," Steele said. "As a supporter of the Second Amendment and a supporter of the NRA, even though I’m not a member of the NRA, I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that our country now, that are talking about arming our teachers and our principals in classrooms. What does that say about us? And I do not believe that's where the American people want to go. I do not believe that is the response that should be coming out of the tragedy in Newtown."

Watch the exchange:

 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the GOP whip, told conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin on Friday that he will oppose the nomination of Chuck Hagel if President Obama taps the former Nebraska senator to serve as secretary of defense as is widely expected.

“I can’t support a Hagel nomination if it comes,” Cornyn said, making him the first senator to publicly state his opposition to a Hagel nomination.  

Cornyn said his opposition stems from Hagel's positions on Israel's national security.

“I’ve heard prominent Democrats concerned about his position on Israel," Cornyn said. "Many Republican have said they did not want to prejudge. But it would be a bad move and one of the reasons I’ve taken the position [to oppose]. ‘Mr. President don’t do that. It would be a bad nomination.’”

 

During a press conference on Friday, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, urged leaders on Capitol Hill to provide sufficient funding in order "to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation."

"I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation," LaPierre said.

 

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, sought to draw attention to what he called the "corrupting shadow industry" of violent video games during a press conference on Friday.

"There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people," LaPierre said. "Through vicious, violent video games with names like "Bulletstorm," "Grand Theft Auto," "Mortal Kombat," and "Splatterhouse."

He then highlighted an online game called "Kindergarten Killers" that he said has been accessible on the Internet for a decade.

"It's been online for ten years," LaPierre said. "How come my research staff can find it and all of yours couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?"

 

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said during a Friday press conference that the pro-gun lobby has remained "respectively silent" since last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. "out of respect for the families" of the victims.

“Out of respect for the families and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment," LaPierre said. "While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectively silent."

Conservative commentator Joe Scarborough and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) had a tense argument over gun control during an interview Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Huelskamp rejected the notion that an assault weapons ban would prevent gun violence, and criticized President Obama and others for politicizing last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The Kansas congressman argued that the Newtown shooting stemmed from a "cultural problem," and that a law addressing access to firearms would be futile.

"I think it's an issue of the Second Amendment, says we have the right to defend ourselves," Huelskamp said. "The Supreme Court has upheld that. But gosh, let's step back. Let's not build on the tragedy in Connecticut and use that to actually push a political agenda."

Scarborough took umbrage to Huelskamp's characterization.

"Use that to push a political agenda? Let me ask you, what was your feeling after Sept. 11, congressman?" an indignant Scarborough asked. "Were there some changes made in this country after the tragedy of Sept. 11? Was that just using a tragedy, 3,000 deaths, to make America safer? Do you dare come on my show and say I am using the slaughter of 20 little six and seven year old children? I'm using that for political purposes, Tim?"

Watch the exchange:

 

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) on Thursday levied sharp criticism toward House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for the failure of the GOP leadership's fiscal cliff proposal, the so-called "Plan B," to garner enough votes to pass the chamber. 

“It weakens the entire Republican Party, the Republican majority," LaTourette said, as quoted by Roll Call. "It’s the continuing dumbing-down of the Republican Party and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get a majority of our own people to support policies that we’re putting forward."

President Barack Obama's job approval rating reached 56 percent in Thursday's edition of the Gallup daily tracking poll, the highest mark since October 13, 2009. 

Thursday's release also showed 37 percent disapprove of Obama, the lowest it's been in Gallup's polling since the same October 2009 release. 

The PollTracker Average captures the post-election bump to Obama's approval rating.

 

After announcing his intentions to "explore the possibility" of a run for U.S. Senate in 2014, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker will sit down with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, according to an announcement made on the show's Twitter feed today.

 

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