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

Here is the official portrait, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza in the Oval Office on Dec. 6, 2012, for President Barack Obama's second term.

(Photo credit: Pete Souza)

In his highly anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Thursday night, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong finally came clean and admitted to using performance enhancing drugs throughout a career that included seven wins in the Tour de France.

"I'm a flawed character," Armstrong told Winfrey, as quoted by ESPN.com.

Armstrong said his use of the banned substances didn't feel wrong, that he didn't feel bad while he was using them and he didn't considerit cheating.

"I went and looked up the definition of cheat," Armstrong said. "And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field."

The second part of the interview will air tonight at 9 p.m. ET on OWN. 

Watch part of the interview:



Before he announced his bid for the U.S. House seat previously held by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford (R) waited to receive the green light from his ex-wife, the Daily Beast reported Thursday. 

In one of the more bizarre instances of political infidelity, Sanford disappeared from South Carolina in the summer of 2009 before it was ultimately revealed that he was visiting his mistress and current fiancé, María Belén Chapur, in Argentina. He and his then-wife, Jenny Sanford, filed for divorce later that year. 

Mark Sanford told the Daily Beast that he sought his ex-wife's blessing before he announced his intention to pursue the House seat.

From the Daily Beast:

One of his first conversations before he decided to run again was with his ex-wife,Jenny Sanford, who remains popular across the state and had been publicly mentioned as a possible Senate nominee and even a congressional candidate. He drove out to the family’s beach house to broach the subject: “I sat down with her on the porch and said, ‘If you have any thoughts about running for this, then I’m out, because I can’t think of anything more disastrous than for a husband and wife to run against each other,’” he said. “I also told my boys that I wouldn’t run if they didn’t want me to run.” Having received the family’s OK, the once and future candidate was off to the races.

The National Rifle Association has been met with considerable criticism for its response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn., but a poll released Thursday indicated that the pro-gun lobby remains fairly popular and more well-liked than another player in the gun control debate.

According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, more Americans view the NRA favorably than negatively: 41 percent gave the organization a positive approval rating, compared with 34 percent who gave it a negative rating.

That's not only above water, but a better rating than the one given to Hollywood and the entertainment industry — a segment thrust into the gun control debate by individuals leery of the psychological effects of violent movies and video games. Just 23 percent of respondents have a positive view of Hollywood and the entertainment industry, while 46 percent have an unfavorable view. 

The complete poll will be released Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Wednesday suggested he may not enforce some of the new federal gun laws unveiled by the White House. 

During an interview with conservative radio host Mike Broomhead, Arpaio said he took an oath to defend the Constitution and he won't carry out policies that run counter to the founding document. 

"Now if they’re going to tell the sheriff that he’s going to go around picking up guns from everybody, they’re going to have a problem," the Maricopa County, Ariz. sheriff said. "I may not enforce that federal law.”

Asked by Broomhead if he would instruct his deputies to confiscate high-capacity magazines or assault weapons if they were made illegal under federal law, Arpaio responded with an emphatic "no."

“I said before, I’m going to arm all my deputies — a month ago I said before this — with automatic weapons and semi-automatic weapons," Arpaio said. "We’re going to be able to fight back...I don't care what they say from Washington." 

It's a familiar line from the tough-talking sheriff, who has been the target of federal lawsuits for alleged racial discrimination against Latinos despite his repeated insistence that he is simply upholding the law of the land. After securing a sixth term in November, a defiant Arpaio said he would continue to "enforce all the laws, including illegal immigration."

"Nothing changes," he said on Election Night.

Listen to Arpaio's interview with Broomhead:


Republican legislators in South Dakota on Thursday filed legislation that would authorize local school districts to determine whether or not to arm personnel, KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, S.D. reported. 

Introduced by four representatives, the bill currently has 29 co-sponsors between the state House and Senate. If passed, it would give school boards the power to "create, establish, and supervise individual school sentinel programs to promote school safety." Under the law, schools would be required to inform local law enforcement who has been armed but not parents or the general public.

The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls reported that the legislation was born out of two separate ideas by GOP House members following last month's shooting in Newtown, Conn. One proposal was to create a school marshal system, while the other would have permitted school employees to carry concealed weapons on campus. The sides came together to craft the legislation that was filed Thursday, known as the “sentinels bill."




Hillary Clinton could carry Florida in the 2016 presidential election even if she's matched up against two popular Sunshine State Republicans, according to a poll released Thursday. 

The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed the outgoing secretary of state outpacing both Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in the quadrennial battleground. In a hypothetical matchup, 50 percent of Florida voters gave the nod to Clinton compared with 46 percent who chose Rubio. Pitted against Bush, Clinton claimed a 5-point edge, 49 percent to 44 percent. 

Rubio and Bush are by far the preferred candidates of Florida Republicans. Thirty-one percent of GOP voters in the state said they'd like Rubio to be the party's nominee in 2016, compared with 26 percent who chose Bush. The next closest Republican, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), claimed the support of only 11 percent.

Clinton, meanwhile, continued her undisputed claim as the party's favorite, with 65 percent of Florida Democrats identifying her as their top choice for 2016. Vice President Joe Biden trailed with a mere 15 percent support of Democratic voters in the state.


Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) issued a statement Thursday in which he outlined his proposal for reforms to the state's election laws, which included an expansion of the early voting period.

On Tuesday, Scott disavowed his role in the law that reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, which resulted in long lines and chaotic scenes at a number of polling places in the days leading up to Election Day in 2012. In the statement Thursday, Scott said the state needs "more early voting days" but qualified his support by saying he supports allowing election supervisors the "flexibility to offer anywhere between eight and 14 days of early voting."

Scott's statement included a full list of reforms, including proposals for shorter ballots and more early voting locations, that came out of a briefing he had with Florida's Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

From the statement:

“In short, these reforms need to address the three major areas I have previously outlined. We need shorter ballots. We need more early voting days, which should include an option of the Sunday before Election Day. And, we need more early voting locations.  From my briefing with Sec. Detzner today, I believe all these reforms are strongly supported by the input and experiences of local election supervisors and others that the department met with for ideas on improving our current system – a system clearly in need of improvement."

Read the entire statement here.


Responding to a report Thursday that suggested otherwise, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) made it clear in a statement that he supports "the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons" and said he "will carefully review any proposal to do that." 

A story in the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minn. quoted a Franken spokesman who said he didn't "have an answer" on whether the Democrat supported a ban. The report also suggested that Franken did not mention an assault weapons ban when he rattled off the list of his favored White House gun control proposals during a Wednesday press avail in Rochester. 

But a Franken aide told TPM that the junior senator from Minnesota has "consistently supported" a reinstatement to the ban, and that the junior senator from Minnesota was actually not aware of President Barack Obama's exact proposals due to scheduling conflicts on Wednesday.

"He was in a meeting yesterday morning during the President’s press conference and then held a press avail directly after the meeting concluded, prior to being informed of the President’s proposals," the aide told TPM in an email Thursday. 

According to the aide, Franken's statement was provided to the Post-Bulletin but it was not published in the newspaper's original report. The Post-Bulletin has since updated the report. 

The statement:

“My heart is heavy over the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut and my thoughts are with those who are grieving. I’ve always supported the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans to own firearms for collection, protection, and sport. But I also think we need to find a balance between those rights and the safety of our children and our communities. I co-sponsored legislation to large clips like those used in so many mass shootings.  I also support the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that. We need to make sure we don’t have weapons out there that are really designed for the battlefield, and not for hunting. In the days and weeks ahead, I’m going to consult closely with all of the affected communities in the state – and that includes people like hunters, educators, parents, and other elected officials – about the best path forward.”



Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Thursday once again spoke out against the White House's proposed gun policies, questioning if President Barack Obama is "truly committed  to the Second Amendment."

The junior senator from Florida said Obama doesn't have the "political courage" to admit his lack of conviction on gun rights.

“Look, I have questions about whether he’s truly committed to the Second Amendment as I understand it and most Americans would understand it," Rubio said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends." "I don’t think he has the political courage to admit that."