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

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) on Thursday took on comments from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who said he will introduce legislation to nullify President Barack Obama's executive actions on guns.

Appearing on CNN's "Starting Point," Kaine said Paul was using code language.

"And so, there are those, and as Rand Paul said, he wants to nullify," Kaine said. "'Nullification' is a code word. Look at when nullification has been used. It's been used a lot, kind of, it's a states' rights argument that gets used in times of great controversy. The president is acting by executive power that is legally conferred on him. And as you pointed out, you went over these executive orders. They’re basic, common sense things."

Pressed by host Soledad O'Brien about what he meant by "code word," Kaine said Paul was using "anti-government rhetoric."

“We’ll see what it is," Kaine said. "But the notion that we’re going to nullify a presidential action when the president is acting pursuant to law, you know, that’s just kind of this anti-government rhetoric that I’m surprised to hear somebody in government using.”



The fallout from Lance Armstrong's anticipated admission to doping continued Thursday with the International Olympic Committee stripping the disgraced cyclist of his bronze medal from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Reuters reported

Armstrong has already been hit with a lifetime ban from the sport by the International Cycling Union (UCI), which also stripped him of his record seven Tour de France titles.

Reuters quoted an unnamed IOC official in the report:

"We have written asking for the return of the medal from the Sydney 2000 Games," an IOC official told Reuters on Thursday after the decision to take away the last major title won by the disgraced American.


President Barack Obama is expected to tap a key national security confidant to serve as his next chief of staff, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Although the unnamed White House officials said in the report that Obama has not finalized his decision yet, he is said to be close to giving the job to Denis McDonough, the president's deputy national security adviser.

McDonough would replace Jack Lew, who last week was nominated by Obama to serve as the next secretary of the treasury. 


Pushing back against one of several gun control proposals unveiled by President Barack Obama, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) on Wednesday said that criminals will be able to eschew any new federal law by obtaining high-capacity magazines from a foreign state that has been dissolved for more than two decades. 

"If they want a 30-round clip, they're going to get it out of Brazil or the Soviet Union," Bryant said at a press conference, as quoted by the Associated Press. "It's going to go on the black market. Self-protecting citizens won't have that right, but criminals will."

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. 

Prior to the White House's news conference on Wednesday, Bryant posted a letter on his Facebook page in which he urged state lawmakers to block any of Obama's executive actions that might undermine the Second Amendment. 


President Barack Obama's proposal to require background checks for all would-be gun buyers has the backing of the vast majority of Americans, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll released Thursday.

Ninety-two percent of all Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases. The proposal likewise has enormous support across the ideological spectrum, with 93 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans supporting background checks.

Moreover, 93 percent of those living in households with gun owners and 85 percent in households with members of the National Rifle Association are in favor of background checks.


Sen Al Franken (D-MN) on Wednesday indicated that he's undecided on an assault weapons ban, the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minn. reported. 

Speaking at an event in Rochester, Franken pledged support for a number of provisions in the gun control package outlined by President Barack Obama at a news conference on Wednesday — including limiting high-capacity magazines and instituting stricter nationwide background checks — but the junior senator from Minnesota did not mention a ban on assault weapons. 

When asked if Franken would back an assault weapons ban, Marc Kimball, a spokesman for the senator, couldn't say for sure.

"I guess I don't have an answer for you," Kimball said. "He's been listening to Minnesota, trying to be thoughtful on this and trying to get input from people from a wide spectrum of views."

Update: A Franken aide told TPM on Thursday that the senator has "consistently supported" a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, nothing that he was unaware of the the president's exact gun control proposals because the event in Rochester was held at the same time as the White House's announcement.

According to the aide, a statement outlining Franken's support of an assault weapons ban was provided to the Post-Bulletin on Thursday, but it was not published in the newspaper's original report. The Post-Bulletin's report has since been updated.

Huge majorities of voters in New York back key provisions in the state's sweeping new gun law, according to a poll from Siena College released Thursday.

New York this week became the first state to pass a new gun control law in the wake of last month's massacre in Newtown, Conn., placing some of the strictest restrictions on firearms in the country. The poll suggested that the measure, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) almost immediately after its swift passage through the state legislature, is far from controversial in the Empire State.

Seventy-three percent of Empire State voters support a ban on assault weapons and magazines with the capacity of more than seven bullets. Moreover, 91 percent of voters support stiffer penalties on purchasing illegal guns or using guns on school grounds. 

In a statement provided to TPM on Wednesday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) responded to crticism voiced by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) toward a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) that enabled more than 800 libraries nationwide, including one at a community college in North Carolina, to acquire books on Islam and Muslim culture.

Jones denounced the use of federal dollars "to promote the culture of Islamic civilizations" and expressed concern that the grant was unfair to Christians. But the 10-term Republican representative rebutted the notion that he harbors an anti-Islam prejudice by pointing to his friendship with Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Ellison also called Jones a "friend" in the statement, while emphasizing the importance in having the "freedom to learn about any culture."

The statement:

“I do plan on talking to my friend Walter Jones.  Americans should have the freedom to learn about any culture and specifically excluding any religion is Un-American.  Just as we have access to books on Christianity, Judaism, and atheism in our public libraries now, Americans should have access to books about Muslim culture.  More than anything, free speech gives us the freedom to learn about beliefs and religions other than our own.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Tuesday sought to assuageĀ concerns voiced by black lawmakers regarding an election law that reduced the number of days for early voting by insisting that he had nothing to do with the legislation, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

In 2011, Scott signed a bill into law that cut the number of early voting days from 14 to 8, resulting in long lines and mayhem at many Florida voting locations in the days leading up to Election Day in 2012. But on Tuesday, Scott concurred that changes to the state's election laws are in order and offered a message to concerned black elected officials: it wasn't my fault.

"It was not my bill," Scott said. "We've got to make changes, I agree. ā€¦ The Legislature passed it. I didn't have anything to do with passing it."

The anemic approval rating of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) may catch up to him when he's up for re-election next year and a Republican apostate could be the one to capitalize, according to the latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling released Wednesday.

Fifty-seven percent of Florida voters disapprove of the job Scott is doing — a continuation of the low popularity that has dogged him his entire first term in office. Only 33 percent approve of Scott's performance as governor. 

Moreover, the poll showed Scott trailing in four of the six hypothetical gubernatorial matchups tested by PPP. Charlie Crist, a former GOP governor of the Sunshine State who joined the Democratic Party last month, would defeat Scott by 14 points, according to PPP. Crist, who campaigned on behalf of President Barack Obama during the 2012 election, is enormously popular among Florida Democrats. Seventy-three percent of Democratic voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Crist and 52 percent would prefer to see him as the party's gubernatorial nominee in 2014. 

The PollTracker Average captures Scott's longstanding weak approval rating among his Florida constituents.