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

Ron Jesmer, who served as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2010 and 2012, is joining FP1 Strategies as a partner, the Republican firm announced Wednesday.

Jesmer was a top strategist to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) during his four years as chairman of the NRSC. 

Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK), who publicly flirted with the idea of pursuing the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee earlier this week, said on Wednesday that the GOP must take a serious look at its outreach efforts to various constituencies in the wake of the party's disappointing showing at the polls last month. But Watts, responding to indications that current RNC chairman Reince Priebus has already secured enough support to win another term, said that the group "probably isn't ready for the kind of change that I would be proposing."

"That tells me that the RNC probably isn't ready for the kind of change that I would be proposing," Watts said during an appearance on MSNBC. "It tells me that we continue to grade our own test and if you continue to grade your own test, you continue to make a good grade. And so I think we've got to take a serious look at where we are as a party and look at what has happened to us in the last couple elections."

Watts continued, "And I think there's enough fault to go around for everybody, but at the same time I do believe that the Republican National Committee, the place where all of these things, these type of outreach efforts, these type of relationships, where they should be built, I think it should be in that institution."

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) may be one of the foremost tea party champions, but a poll out Wednesday indicates that the overwhelming majority of voters in his state do not identify with the conservative movement. 

The poll, from Winthrop University, shows that nearly 91 percent of registered voters in South Carolina do not consider themselves members of the tea party. About 6 percent of Palmetto State voters said they are a part of the movement. 

The top leadership posts within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are largely occupied by registered Republicans, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday.

Public records obtained by the Tribune indicate that 11 of the church's 15 apostles are members of the Republican Party. That includes the church's president, Thomas S. Monson. The other four apostles are not affiliated with any political party. All 15 voted in last month's general election, while none participated in this year's Democratic primary election.

Mitt Romney became the first Mormon to earn the top spot on a major party's presidential ticket this year. An exit poll from Pew Research Center indicated that Romney won 78 percent of the Mormon vote in 2012, which was actually slightly smaller than the share picked up by former President George W. Bush in 2004. 

Few would argue that Gallup was more successful in calling the 2012 presidential election than New York Times polling wunderkind Nate Silver, but a survey released Tuesday indicated the American public still trusts Gallup more.

The survey, conducted by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, showed a plurality of voters, 31 percent, trust Gallup more than Silver. Fourteen percent give the edge to Silver. Perhaps most tellingly, 55 percent of voters surveyed aren't sure who they trust more.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will leave her cabinet post in good standing with an American public that would strongly support her presidential bid in 2016, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 68 percent of American adults approve of the job Clinton is doing at the State Department, while 66 percent said they have a favorable opinion of her. 

Those numbers alone would augur well for her future presidential prospects, but a separate question in the poll fully affirms how strong her candidacy would be. Fifty-seven percent said they would support Clinton should she make a White House bid in 2016, while 37 percent would oppose her candidacy. 

A little more than half of registered voters nationwide believe that marijuana should be leagal, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University released Wednesday.

The poll shows that 51 percent of voters believe the country's prohibition on marijuana should end, while 44 percent do not. But the issue of legalization creates a divide along partisan, gender and generational lines.

Nearly 60 percent of Democrats support legalization, while a little under 70 percent of Republicans are opposed. Fifty-nine percent of men believe pot should be made legal, but 52 percent of women do not.  And large majorities of voters under the age of 30 and between the ages of 30 and 44 are in favor of legalization, while 56 percent of voters over the age of 65 are not.

Tony Fratto, once a spokesperson for former President George W. Bush, used Twitter on Wednesday to attempt to assuage Republicans who still have reservations about raising tax rates on the highest income earners.

While he doesn't find them "ideal," Fratto reminded his followers that such tax rates were in place during former President Bill Clinton's two terms in the 1990s.


Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is currently in Afghanistan visiting soldiers from her home state, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. 

Brewer left Arizona on Sunday, and her whereabouts and intended destination were both initially undisclosed. A spokesman for the governor said only that she was traveling on "official business." Brewer filed a notice with the state's secretary of state before her departure indicating that she would be out of Arizona until Saturday.