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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

President Barack Obama was deemed the clear political winner of Republican leaders in Congress of the just-concluded fiscal cliff negotiations, according to a survey from Pew Research Center released on Monday. 

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said Obama got more of what he wanted in the bill that passed the House of Representatives and was signed into law last week, compared with only 20 percent who said Republican leaders in Congress got the better end of the deal.

The poll also showed that 48 percent approve of Obama's handling of the fiscal talks, while 40 percent disapprove — a tepid rating, but one that is much stronger than the one given to the Congressional GOP. A mere 19 percent of Americans said they approve of the way Republicans on Capitol Hill handled the talks, while 66 percent disapprove. 

 

In an interview with The Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel on Monday said he demonstrated an "unequivocal, total support for Israel" throughout his career as a senator.

The former Nebraska senator bristled that his critics — many of whom are former GOP colleagues who previously spoke glowingly of him — have "completely distorted" his record on U.S. policy toward Israel while he has been "hanging out there in no-man's land unable to respond to charges, falsehoods and distortions."

But Hagel insisted that there is "not one shred of evidence that I'm anti-Israeli, not one (Senate) vote that matters that hurt Israel."

"I didn't sign on to certain resolutions and letters because they were counter-productive and didn't solve a problem," Hagel said in his first interview given since being made President Barack Obama's official nominee to head the Pentagon.

Read the entire interview here.

 

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) on Monday announced that he will introduce a bill to stop the much-ballyhooed proposal for the U.S. Treasury Department to mint trillion dollar platinum coins in an effort to avoid the debt ceiling.

The statement:

“Some people are in denial about the need to reduce spending and balance the budget. This scheme to mint trillion dollar platinum coins is absurd and dangerous, and would be laughable if the proponents weren’t so serious about it as a solution. I’m introducing a bill to stop it in its tracks,” Rep. Walden said.

“My wife and I have owned and operated a small business since 1986. When it came time to pay the bills, we couldn’t just mint a coin to create more money out of thin air. We sat down and figured out how to balance the books. That’s what Washington needs to do as well. My bill will take the coin scheme off the table by disallowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins as a way to pay down the debt. We must reduce spending and get our fiscal house in order,” Rep. Walden said. 

Within the last week, numerous media reports (example here) have suggested that the U.S. Mint could create trillion dollar platinum coins, which would then be deposited into the Federal Reserve to be used to pay the federal government’s bills or avoid hitting the debt ceiling. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, touted the proposal last week (storyhere). New York Times columnist and Princeton professor Paul Krugman suggested the idea in an article as well (click here). Other leaders in Washington, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have urged the President to raise the debt limit unilaterally without permission from Congress.

After the owner of the complex had challenged the original decision, a city attorney in Dallas announced Monday that the scheduled demolition of Lee Harvey Oswald's apartment will go ahead as planned, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Originally ordered to be razed in 2011, the owner objected and managed to delay the demolition. But Andrew Gilbert, senior assistant city attorney, said in a letter that the city will conduct asbestos abatement "over the next several days" and then will begin "the immediate demolition."

A pro-gun activist who made headlines with an open letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) compared federal gun control laws being considered to policies of Nazi Germany during an interview on Fox News on Monday. 

Appearing on "Fox & Friends," Joshua Boston discussed his combative letter to Feinstein before making a series of provocative historical references to convey why he feels threatened by new gun laws. 

"It’s something we’ve seen happen time and time again in history, with Stalin," Boston told host Steve Doocy. "It happened in Cambodia. Then of course the Third Reich. No one saw that coming until it was too late."

Watch the exchange:

 

h/t Think Progress

Republican National Committee deputy communications director Tim Miller on Monday mocked the lack of diversity in President Barack Obama's second-term cabinet nominations, taking to Twitter to refer to Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and the administration's current counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as "3 old white guys who supported/voted for Iraq & DADT."

 

The National Jewish Democratic Council on Monday responded to news that Chuck Hagel will be nominated for secretary of defense, expressing confidence that he will "follow the President's lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel" despite the group's previous concerns about the former Republican senator. 

The statement:

"President Barack Obama's unprecedented pro-Israel credentials are unquestionable, and setting policy starts and stops with the President. While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, former Senator Chuck Hagel will follow the President's lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel -- on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran's nuclear program." 

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker (D) on Monday said he has yet to speak with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), whose seat Booker will pursue in 2014, indicating he wants to give the 88-year-old incumbent "space to make his own decision."

Appearing on CNN's "Starting Point," Booker said he was scheduled to meet with Lautenberg recently, but those plans fell through.

“I want to give him the space to make his own decision. I’ve announced my intention to run, but the reality is is we’ve got a good senator," Booker said. "He’s been loyal. He’s been there for a long time. And I think he’s got a decision to make. So, I’m focusing on my job for now. And I hope to talk to him. We’ve reached out to him a number of times. In fact, I had a plane trip going down to meet with him, but unfortunately with a lot of the challenges going down in Washington, he had to cancel the meeting.”

Lautenberg has yet to announce if he will seek re-election, and Booker took a pass when asked if he would be open to a primary challenge to the five-term senator. 

"I think it's too even early to talk about those kind of hypotheticals because he hasn't made his decision yet," Booker said.

Watch the exchange:

 

A top executive for NBC dismissed the notion that reality television star Donald Trump's often incendiary political rhetoric has inflicted damage on the network's reputation, saying in an interview published online Sunday that the real estate mogul would be dealt with if he were to "cross a line." 

“I don’t think what he’s doing in his personal life is going to corrupt what is happening on the show,” NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt told Entertainment Weekly. “That said, if he becomes somehow hurtful or says or does things that cross a line, we would figure out what to do about that.”

Greenblatt also seemed to indicate that network officials talked Trump out of a presidential bid

“We talked to him about running for president, wasn’t that good enough?” Greenblatt joked.

 

In a wide-ranging interview published online in The Star-Ledger on Sunday evening, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) indicated that he wants a decisive re-election victory in the state's gubernatorial election this year and that he expects to be more prepared for a presidential bid the next time around.

"I'll consider that a raging success and a historic success," Christie said of winning a second term by a comfortable margin. "I'd consider that to be a real affirmation of my time in office and my vision for the future."

Republicans have won statewide races in New Jersey only three times since 1988 — a list that includes Christie's 2009 victory — but none have eclipsed the 50 percent threshold, something the Republican governor said he wants to change.

With sky high approval ratings following Hurricane Sandy, Christie is a heavy favorite to win re-election — a victory that could cement his status as GOP standard-bearer and catapult him to the White House in 2016. Without delving into specifics about his presidential prospects, Christie insisted that he'll be more ready for a run in 2016 than he was in 2012.

"Yeah, you’re damn right I’d be more ready," Christie said.

 

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