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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

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.

 

House Speaker John Boehner (R) recounted the recent fiscal battles on Capitol Hill in an interview published online Sunday night in the Wall Street Journal, at one point sounding a weary note while discussing his leadership role.

"I need this job like I need a hole in the head," Boehner told the Journal's Stephen Moore. 

The speaker also claimed that, during tense fiscal cliff negotiations, President Barack Obama asserted that government spending is not as grave of a problem as Republicans insist.

"At one point several weeks ago, the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem,'" Boehner said.

  

 

Last week, two-term Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS) sparked controversy nationwide when he voted against relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, despite representing coastal Mississippi, one of the regions hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina and a top beneficiary of Katrina disaster aid.

But in addition to representing the region today, Palazzo was deeply involved in pressing for federal dollars in the fall of 2005. Then acting in his role as a local government official, Palazzo repeatedly appealed for federal funding to help rebuild his battered coastal Mississippi community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Read More →

Laura Chambers, a spokeswoman for Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), provided TPM with a statement on Friday in which she elaborated on the second-term congressman's opposition to the $9.7 billion relief package to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Palazzo was one of only 67 members of the House of Representatives -- all Republicans -- to vote against the legislation, despite representing a district that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Highlighting the representative's desire for a bill with spending offsets, Chambers said Palazzo hopes the debate over aid to those affected by Sandy will spark a "national discussion on disaster relief reform."

The statement:

“Congressman Palazzo fully supports a Sandy relief package that includes spending offsets.  On the heels of a fiscal cliff deal that added $4 trillion to our existing $16 trillion national debt, we must ensure that disaster relief is paid for.  He also hopes we will be able to have a much-needed national discussion on disaster relief reform in the coming days."

Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL) didn't cast a vote on the $9.7 billion relief package for victims of Hurricane Sandy on Friday, but a spokesman said the Alabama lawmaker would have. 

Mike Lewis, communications director for Bonner, said the congressman was back in his Gulf Coast district tending to a personal matter. 

“He did receive assurances from the leadership ahead of time that it had enough votes to pass," Lewis told TPM. 

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), who also represents the Gulf Coast region, voted against the aid. Palazzo's Mississippi district suffered considerable damage in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the relief package on Friday, with all 67 "no" votes coming from Republican members

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) on Friday released a lengthy, second statement following his guilty plea to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge in which he elaborated on his drinking habits, Mormon faith and his account of what transpired on the night of his December arrest. The three-term senator released a pithier statement earlier in the day. 

The full statement:

I have recently made personal choices that are at odds with who I am, who Idahoans rightly believe me to be and who I strive to be.  I believe public officials should be held to higher standards, since I have been entrusted by Idahoans to make choices and votes on their behalf.  I offer my apologies, ask for your forgiveness for my recent failings and I make a firm commitment that I will strive to regain the trust that I have lost.

As a public servant, I owe Idahoans a full and accurate explanation of my failings.  I appreciate the opportunity that I have had in the last few days to privately explain and apologize to my family.  I love them deeply and appreciate their encouragement and support in helping me face this situation. 

 In recent months, and for less than a year, I have on occasion had alcoholic drinks in my apartment in Washington, DC.  It was a poor choice to use alcohol to relieve stress—and one at odds with my personally-held religious beliefs.  However, on the night of Saturday, December 22nd, I made another even worse decision to go for a drive to get out of my apartment and try to wind down.  I left my apartment, driving out past the monuments.  I was alone during this drive and never left my vehicle.  After driving around for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, I realized what a mistake it had been for me to drive and decided to return to my apartment. I approached a multi-street intersection and mistakenly turned against a red light.  It was at that time that the police pulled me over.  As has been publicly reported, I cooperated fully with the officer.  I failed the field sobriety tests.   As you know, I pled guilty and will follow through on the punishment imposed by the court.

 As a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is well-known for its standards against consumption of alcohol, I have endeavored for the majority of my life to be an upstanding representative of my faith.  My mistake in using alcohol in recent months has therefore brought additional embarrassment and shame to me, my family and other church members who care about me.  I will carry through on the appropriate measures for repentance, and I ask all of you for your forgiveness.

 I sincerely regret the choice I made for many reasons, especially because tragic consequences can result from drinking and driving.  I am truly, truly grateful that no one was injured and, as has been suggested, I will find an opportunity to help further the message:  “don’t drink and drive”. 

 In summary, I am profoundly sorry for the pain and embarrassment that I have brought to my family, to Idahoans, to my church, to my colleagues in the U.S. Senate and my staff, to anyone who has placed their trust in me.  I am also deeply appreciative of those who have reached out to me over the last few days with messages of encouragement, support and forgiveness.  These words mean more to me and my family than they can ever know.  I will work hard to regain the trust of my family and Idahoans.

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