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. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) continues to look susceptible to a primary challenge from the right in a poll released Tuesday, but the two-term incumbent comfortably tops all would-be intraparty rivals — except for former presidential candidate Herman Cain.

The latest automated survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling shows that a slightly plurality of Georgia Republicans, 43 percent, would prefer someone more conservative. Thirty-eight percent of GOP primary voters said they want Chambliss to be the party's nominee in 2014. 

Despite that vulnerability, the poll shows Chambliss trouncing every prospective candidate who's signaled an interest in running — Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and former Secretary of State Karen Handel. Chambliss likewise claims wide leads over long-shot candidates such as conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who announced last week that he will not run.

But Cain, the colorful former pizza magnate who saw an unlikely rise in the polls last year as a presidential hopeful, tops Price among in-state Republicans 50 percent to 36 percent. Chambliss is by far the most electable Republican, the poll shows, indicating that the 2014 race in Georgia could bear some resemblance to a key 2012 senate race.

From PPP:

In terms of the general election the Georgia Senate race is somewhat reminiscent of the Indiana contest this cycle- if Chambliss is the nominee the seat is probably safe for the GOP, but if someone far to his right wins the primary the Democrats might have a chance if everything goes their way.

The only Democrat who comes particularly close to Chambliss is 2002 foe Max Cleland, who despite being quite popular with a 50/27 favorability rating, only musters a tie at 45. Chambliss leads former Governor Roy Barnes 48-40, Congressman John Barrow 50-37, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed 52-37, and State Senator Jason Carter 52-34. Those folks are all of a higher caliber probably than who the Democrats will be able to get to run, and they still don't come all that close.

The reason Chambliss does so well against all of those folks is that he actually has a fair amount of appeal to Democrats. 28% approve of him, a lot more crossover support than we see for most politicians these days. If Chambliss was taken out in the primary, it's likely the Republicans would end up with a nominee who doesn't have that going for them. We tested Tom Price against all the Democrats as well and he would trail Cleland 47-39 and Barnes 46-40 while leading Barrow only 40-38, Reed 43-38, and Carter 42-36. It could have the potential to be a race if Chambliss does get primaried.


Former Vice President Dick Cheney is writing a book on his "many battles with coronary disease and the revolutionary changes in treatment that helped keep him alive," the Associated Press reported Monday.

Cheney is collaborating with his cardiologist on the book, which is slated to be published by Scribner next fall.

Raw video footage, courtesy of the Associated Press, captured footage of a deadly typhoon that ravaged the Philippines on Tuesday. At least 33 people were killed in the storm, according to the AP.



Former Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX) has resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks following a dispute over the direction of the leading tea party organization, Mother Jones reports

Armey's decision has yet been made public, but his resignation was outlined in an email sent to Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, and obtained by Mother Jones on Monday. The email indicates that the two sides are not parting on congenial terms.

From the report in Mother Jones:

In the email, Armey indicated that he wants nothing to do with FreedomWorks anymore. He asked that all user names, passwords, and security-related data created in his name be emailed to him by the close of business on December 4. He even insisted that FreedomWorks—"effective immediately"—was "prohibited" from using a booklet he authored. Was Armey's resignation a reaction to the recent election results? "Obviously I was not happy with the election results," he says. "We might've gotten better results if we had gone in a different direction. But it isn't that I got my nose out of line because we should've done better."


Nearly half of Americans doubt that President Obama and Congress will strike a deal on the so-called "fiscal cliff" before the year-end deadline but a majority is prepared to blame Republicans on Capitol Hill for such a failure, a poll released Tuesday shows.

The latest Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll shows that 49 percent of Americans do not think an agreement will be reached before January 1, 2013, when self-imposed automatic spending cuts and tax hikes are slated to take effect if a deal is not produced.

But the poll also shows that 53 percent believe that the congressional GOP will be more blameworthy if an agreement isn't ironed out, while 27 percent believe Obama will be more to blame. Twelve percent said that both sides should share the blame equally.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans consider themselves either "moderately" or "very" religious, according to findings from Gallup released on Tuesday.

The survey shows 40 percent consider themselves very religious, while 29 percent said they are moderately religious. Secularism remains a minority view in the United States, the survey indicates. Only 31 percent said they are nonreligious. 

The head of NATO on Tuesday joined the President Obama and others in issuing a stern warning to the Syrian government to not deploy chemical weapons on its own people, the BBC reports

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime would be "completely unacceptable." 

The Syrian government has repeatedly insisted that it does not have access to such weapons, and would not use them on its own people if it did. 

President Obama is mulling the possibility of tapping Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour to be the next ambassador to the United Kingdom or France, Bloomberg reports Tuesday. 

Wintour was one of the Obama campaign's biggest fundraiser, memorably co-hosting a high-dollar dinner for the president at the Manhattan home of Sarah Jessica Parker.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Monday responded to President Obama's tweet of support for her to continue on as chair of the Democratic National Committee, taking to Twitter herself to express the "honor" she's felt serving in her current post:


The latest piece of Republican introspection emerged on Monday, with a prominent GOP polling firm releasing a memo that candidly outlined the electoral failures of Mitt Romney's campaign. 

Authored by The Winston Group, the memo asserted that "the door couldn’t have been more wide open for Governor Romney and Republicans to win a significant victory" in 2012, pointing to the historically high unemployment rate as evidence that President Obama was eminently beatable. But it was a mistake, the authors of the memo argued, for Romney and other Republicans to treat the election purely as a referendum on Obama's first term record — a strategy that allowed the incumbent to present the electorate with a choice between the two candidates.

From the memo:

Many in Republican campaign circles prior to and during the presidential primary process believed with certainty that the candidate who won would handily defeat President Obama because of how bad things were. This attitude developed into a belief among some Republicans that this election was going to be purely a referendum on the president. 

However, the general electorate was in a very different place. First, people believed this election would have serious consequences. Earlier in the year in a New Models survey, 85% of voters said they believed the statement, “If we don’t make the right choices, the economic downturn may last for many years, and would lead to a decline in the quality of life.” That result was similar across race, gender, age, ideology, and party. Additionally, when voters were asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who would stop President Obama or one who had his own plan for the economy and jobs, they preferred the one with a plan by 72-18.

But after winning the primary, Governor Romney’s campaign decided to focus on making this a referendum on President Obama’s record. In contrast, the Obama campaign made the election a choice between the two candidates and their plans for the future. President Obama defined Romney in terms that would allow for a favorable contrast, particularly on economic policies, and in the end, the choice became moving forward with the economic polices of the present (Obama’s) or going back to the failed economic policies of the past (Romney’s/Bush’s). Because Governor Romney focused on Obama’s negative record at the expense of defining himself, the Romney campaign never engaged in the needed economic debate that would have given voters a clear understanding of his economic vision for the country, why it would work, and how it differed from both Obama and Bush.