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

The millions of dollars President Barack Obama's re-election team spent on ads tailored for mobile devices paid off, campaign operatives told AdWeek in a story published Tuesday:

In the case of mobile video ads, the Democratic operatives said they got click-through rates from 3 percent to 19.5 percent during the race's crucial stretch run when Mitt Romney appeared to surge in late October and early November. The promos criticized the GOP candidate's tax plan and praised Obama's auto industry bailout, among other examples.

"We knew we had to be in mobile," said Shannon Lee, the campaign's digital lead who previously worked at interactive shop Digitas. "The work we did there was exciting because we felt it was directly impacting the election."

More from AdWeek on who the ads targeted:

The ads typically zeroed in on young, female and Hispanic voters in Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, Iowa, Florida and Colorado, appearing via mobile properties owned by major regional news outlets such as the Cincinnati EnquirerDetroit Free PressLas Vegas Review-Journal, Des Moines RegisterMiami Herald and Denver Post. The Obama digital team also bought ads directly from CNN, The Weather Channel, Associated Press and Pandora, leveraging through those publishers' mobile apps.

Half of the country is dissatisfied with the Obama administration's handling of the September attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, but a solid majority rejects the notion that the White House misled the American public on what transpired, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday. 

On the heels of a scathing report released Tuesday by an independent panel that highlighted a litany of failures on the part of the State Department in the lead-up to the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the poll shows that 50 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the administrationhave handled the matter. Forty-three percent are satisfied. 

But 56 percent of respondents said they do not believe the White House has "intentionally misled" the public about the attack, compared with 40 percent who believe it has. 


CNN's Piers Morgan on Tuesday unloaded on a pro-gun advocate during an extremely contentious interview on his show. 

During the interview, Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, contended that adding more guns in society and arming teachers could help prevent mass shootings like the one last week in Newtown, Conn., arguing that attempts to institute stricter gun control laws in European countries have failed. 

That set off Morgan, who proceeded to compare gun-related deaths in America to other industrialized countries. When Pratt attempted to counter Morgan's statistics, the host fired back with an insult.

“You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?” Morgan said.

“It seems to me that you are morally obtuse,” Pratt responded. “You seem to prefer being a victim to being able to prevail over the criminal element. I don’t know why you want to be the criminal’s friend.”

Watch the exchange:


Police in Scottsdale, Ariz. surrounded a local middle school Wednesday morning after a food-service worker reported seeing an armed person there around 6 a.m., Phoenix-based KTVK reports. The worker reported seeing a man dressed in a long coat with a holstered weapon. Police had covered 75 percent of the school's grounds by 9 a.m. and found nothing suspicious.

Below is video from KTVK's coverage of the incident.



A Virginia legislator says he will introduce a bill mandating teachers or other school personnel to carry concealed weapons, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The proposal from state Sen. Robert G. Marshall (R) comes in response to last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Wenzel J. Cummings, the state lawyer charged with drafting the legislation, originally questioned whether the legislature has the authority to require teachers to carry weapons to school rather than authorizing them do so.

From WaPo:

Cummings, in consultation with other lawyers, ultimately concluded that the bill could be proposed as a mandate after turning up a recent example of the General Assembly’s ordering schools to do something. Last session, it passed a bill requiring that school boards adopt policies for stocking and administering epinephrine, to be administered to students in the case of a severe allergic reaction.

“Given that this is a mandate placed on the school board with regard to the training of its personnel, it seems to be within the realm of what your bill request would seek to accomplish requiring the training of personnel who would carry a firearm,” Cummings wrote. “In that vein, if you would prefer a ‘shall’ versus a ‘may,’ we think you could probably go forward with a ‘shall’ bill.”

An automated-pollster aligned with the Republican Party will launch this week in an effort to occupy a space in the data collection arena currently dominated by Democratic outfits such as Public Policy Polling, Politico reported Wednesday. 

Harper Polling will officially begin its operations this week, with founder Brock McCleary telling Politico that his outfit will attempt to compete with the likes of PPP. Thanks to interactive voice response technology -- a methodology widely known as "robo-polling" that uses automated messages rather than live interviewers to conduct surveys --- PPP has established a reputation for its prolific output, churning out hundreds of polls each election cycle covering a vast array of candidates, issues and races. 

“The technology is very affordable and very nimble. Having fast, precise polling was very useful for us,” McCleary, the outgoing polling director and deputy executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Politico. “This is what PPP is and there’s really no competitor.”

Tom Jensen, director of PPP, responded to the Politico report via Twitter on Wednesday, suggesting that Harper's formation is a sign both of PPP's strong track record and the dubious results produced by Rasmussen, the best-known GOP robo-pollster.


The re-election team of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) hopes to raise $2 million by the end of the year, Politico reported Wednesday.

According to Politico, the lofty fundraising goal helps explain why Christie filed for re-election this year instead of waiting until 2013:

Part of the impetus for Christie to declare his reelection bid this year was to begin fundraising, supporters said. Still, $2 million is a tall order, given New Jersey’s strict pay-to-play laws and the state’s $3,800 cap on donations.

One email to prospective donors asks “founding members” of the Christie fundraising committee to agree to raise $50,000 from 12 donors before New Year’s Eve.


Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), who was selected to succeed outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) earlier this week, said Wednesday that the best response to last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. may not necessarily come in the form of "new legislation" on gun control, but instead a hard look at mental illness and the country's "culture of moral decay and of violence." 

“I think the solutions are not necessarily in new legislation. Perhaps the solution starts with us examining the mental condition of the person and the persons in the past that have had the desire to create the atrocities that we’ve seen recently," Scott told CNN's Soledad O'Brien. "So mental illness should be a major part of the conversation going forward. We should also look at an opportunity for us to engage this entire culture of moral decay and of violence. So when we start looking for solutions as a response to the crisis, I think we’re starting in the right place. If we draw conclusions quickly, we may draw flawed conclusions." 

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday informed British lawmakers that the country would withdraw roughly 3,800 of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2013, the Associated Press reports. Cameron said that Britain would enter 2014 with about 5,000 of its troops still in Afghanistan. 


Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) continues to nurse a negative approval rating while his hopes for a second term look grim, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University released Wednesday. 

The poll shows only 36 percent of Florida voters approve of the job Scott is doing, compared with 45 percent who disapprove. It's familiar territory for the beleagued Scott, whose low approval rating has been a persistent trend throughout his first term.

The poll from Quinnipiac also indicates that Scott's weak popularity could spell doom for his re-election prospects in 2014. A mere 30 percent of Florida voters said they believe the Republican deserves another term, while 52 percent said he does not. What's more, 55 percent think that Scott should be challenged by someone from his own party.  

The PollTracker Average provides a glimpse of the low approval ratings that have spanned Scott's first term.