Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

Working toward a bold response to last month's shooting in Newtown, Conn., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Wednesday will introduce one of the most sweeping new gun laws in the country, the New York Times reports

Among other restrictions, Cuomo will reportedly announce his plans to push for a strict new ban on assault weapons in his State of the State address this afternoon in Albany, N.Y. Although New York already has a ban on some assault weapons on the books, Cuomo intends to expand the "number of guns and magazines covered by the law while also making it harder for gun makers to tweak their products to get around the ban," according to the Times:

According to people briefed on the talks, the governor is considering not only rewriting the state’s assault weapons ban, but also proposing more expansive use of mental health records in background checks of gun buyers, lower limits on the capacity of magazines sold legally in New York and a new requirement that gun permits be subject to periodic recertification.

CBS 2 in New York reported late Tuesday that Cuomo was negotiating with leaders in the state Assembly and Senate in the hopes of having a deal struck before his speech on Wednesday. 

Delivering his "State of the State Address" on Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) hailed the resilience of his constituents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy while also calling on Congress to offer more disaster aid, asserting that the storm "was and is one of those things" that should be "above politics."

An excerpt from those remarks, which were made available to the press:

New Jerseyans are among the toughest, grittiest and most generous people in America.  These citizens are a small example of that simple truth.  Our pride in our state in our moment of loss and challenge is reflected in the eyes of these extraordinary people.

You see, some things are above politics.  Sandy was and is one of those things.  These folks stand for the truth of that statement.

We now look forward to what we hope will be quick Congressional action on a full, clean Sandy aid bill – now, next week -- and to enactment by the President.  We have waited 72 days, seven times longer than victims of Hurricane Katrina waited.  One thing I hope everyone now clearly understands—New Jersey, both Republicans and Democrats, will never stand silent when our citizens are being short changed.

The people of New Jersey are in need, not from their own actions but from an act of God that delivered a natural, human, and financial disaster --- and we are thankful to the people of America for honoring the tradition of providing relief.  We have stood with the citizens of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Iowa, Vermont, California and Missouri in their times of need—now I trust that they will stand with us.

So make no mistake.  New Jersey’s spirit has never been stronger.  Our resolve never more firm.  Our unity never more obvious. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya the day after the presidential inauguration, the Associated Press reports.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the ranking member of the committee, said during an appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday that Clinton will appear before the panel on Jan. 22, the day after President Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term and the first day the Senate will reconvene following a two-week hiatus. The Foreign Relations Committee has not officially confirmed the date. 

Freshman Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), who was wounded in the shooting two years ago that killed six people and left former Rep. Gabby Giffords (R-AZ) severely injured, said on Tuesday that he has been given "a second opportunity at life" to prevent gun-related massacres like the one in Tucson, Ariz. 

"My leg, left leg, still doesn't have any feeling in it below the knee, but I've got my leg, and I've got my life, and I've been given a second opportunity at life to do something about a tragedy that none of us ever want to see happen again," Barber said during an appearance on MSNBC. "Now as a member of Congress, I'm determined that we're going to take appropriate action."

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) is catching heat nationally and at home for his "no" vote on a bill to provide $.97 billion in relief to people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. 

An editorial published Monday by The Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., Palazzo's hometown, argued that the second-term congressman's opposition to the bill that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week "misrepresents his district."

"Seldom has a single vote in Congress appeared as cold-blooded and hard-headed as one cast by Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., last week," the editorial read. 

Palazzo was one of only 67 members, all Republicans, to vote against the measure despite publicly appealing for federal dollars in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — a point for which he was castigated in the editorial. A spokeswoman for Palazzo provided TPM with a statement following his vote last week in which she said the Gulf Coast lawmaker hopes the debate over Sandy relief will spark a "much-needed national discussion" on disaster relief reform. Palazzo will tour areas devastated by Sandy today. 

More from the editorial: 

No member of Congress should have been more supportive of this measure than Palazzo. As the congressional representative of Hurricane Katrina's "ground zero," Palazzo should have had nothing but sympathy and empathy for those in need of this legislation.

Certainly seven years ago he would have. As the chief financial officer for the Biloxi Public Housing Authority when Hurricane Katrina hit, Palazzo called for immediate federal relief. "Send us money," he said in 2005, "so we can put our families back together and do our part to rebuild our community."

But instead of voting to honor the nation's obligation to flood insurance policy holders in 2013, Palazzo joined 66 of his Republican colleagues in the House to vote against the bill.

The urgency he had understood so well after Katrina was gone, replaced by a call for spending reductions to offset the cost and a call for a dialogue on spending and debt.

Such a dialogue is needed. But the time and place for it is not when Americans are suffering from a natural disaster and in need of assistance only the federal government can provide.



On the heels of an historically unpopular Congress, Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found a sardonic way to illustrate just how low the public thinks of the governing body in a survey released Tuesday.

Among several items and individuals tested, the automated poll found that American voters have a higher opinion of root canals, Canadian rock band Nickelback, head lice, colonoscopies, Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, France, real estate mogul Donald Trump and cockroaches than they do of Congress. 

On the other hand, Congress, which registered a paltry favorability rating of 9 percent in the survey, is still more popular than telemarketers, ebola, North Korea, troubled actress Lindsey Lohan, communism, meth labs and disgraced former politician John Edwards.

(Photo: Derick Hingle/ZUMA Press/Newscom) 

In a memo circulated to staff on Tuesday, Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron announced that the newspaper's polling division will branch out to become an independent entity of Washington Post Media and "will begin to do work for outside clients as well as continue to do work for The Washington Post poll." 

Jon Cohen, the Post's polling director, will continue to lead the effort while news editor Scott Vance will serve as newsroom liaison. The memo, reported by media blogger Jim Romenesko, came attached with a press release, which said that the polling operation will now be known as "Capital Insight."

The press release can be read in full online at Capital Insight's official website

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday released a statement on President Barack Obama's nomination of John Brennan to serve as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, arguing that the administration's counterterrorism adviser should not be confirmed "until our questions are answered" on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans.

The statement:

“I have not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle and still have many questions about what transpired before, during and after the attack on our consulate.

 “In that regard, I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered - like who changed Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points and deleted the references to Al-Qaeda?  My support for a delay in confirmation is not directed at Mr. Brennan, but is an unfortunate, yet necessary action to get information from this Administration.

 “I have tried – repeatedly – to get information on Benghazi but my requests have been repeatedly ignored.

“We were first told the Director of National Intelligence deleted the Al-Qaeda reference in the talking points because they did not want to let al Qaeda know we were monitoring them.  We were then told the FBI changed the talking points so as not to compromise an ongoing criminal investigation.  Finally, during a meeting with Ambassador Rice and acting-CIA Director Morrell, I was told it was the FBI who changed the talking points.  However, later in the day the clarified it was the CIA who had changed the talking points. 

“This ever-changing story should be resolved.  It is imperative we understand who changed the talking points just weeks before a presidential election and why.  The stonewalling on Benghazi by the Obama Administration must come to an end.”

The Associated Press reports:

Turkey's seismology center says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 has hit an area off Turkey's Aegean coast.

The earthquake was felt in Istanbul and neighboring regions, but there was no immediate report of any damage.

The Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory says the quake occurred at 4:16 p.m. (1416 GMT) Tuesday off the coast from Turkey's northwestern Canakkale province. Authorities are still assessing possible damage.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute in Greece put the magnitude at 5.9 and said the quake occurred between the Greek islands of Lemnos and Lesvos, near the Turkish coast. The quake was also mildly felt in Athens. The U.S. Geological Survey gave a prelimary magnitude of 5.7.