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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

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.

 

Mitt Romney's campaign manager Matt Rhoades wishes the former Republican presidential nominee hadn't staked out such a far-right, hardline position on the issue of immigration.

Speaking at last week's Campaign Decision Makers Conference held at Harvard University — the audio of which was posted online Monday — Rhoades said he regretted going after Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) quite so hard on immigration. Perry alienated many on the right with his support of a Texas state policy that allows children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates, a position he reiterated during a GOP presidential debate last year.

Romney used the issue to pivot to the right of Perry, taking positions on immigration that probably ended up costing him with the country's burgeoning Latino electorate. Rhoades said that position doomed Perry, even more than his infamous "oops" moment, and added that Romney could have effectively dispatched the Texas governor on other policy grounds instead.

From the Huffington Post's report:

"If you look through the unwinding of the Perry campaign, a lot of people put a focus on that one infamous debate moment," Rhoades said, referring to Perry's epic "oops" moment at an early November debate in Detroit, when Perry could not remember the three federal agencies he planned to eliminate.

"But it was the earliest debates, the first and second debates," Rhoades said. "And by the third debate, and this was well before the other moment, I think Governor Perry was badly hurt."

Rhoades reflected on how Romney had inflicted damage on Perry in early September with attacks on his comments that Social Security was a "Ponzi scheme" and his plan to turn the plan over to state governments.

"In retrospect, I believe we probably could have just beaten Governor Perry with the Social Security hit," Rhoades said.

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R) on Monday circulated an email to supporters, thanking them and reiterating that he is "at peace" with his decision to not run in the state's 2013 gubernatorial race.

Bolling, who had the backing of popular Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), surprised many in late November when he dropped his gubernatorial bid, all but ensuring that the GOP's nomination will be claimed by state attorney general and tea party favorite Ken Cuccinelli. 

The email:

Just a quick note to say “Thank You” to the hundreds of people who have reached out to Jean Ann and me over the past week.  We truly appreciate the thoughtfulness you have shown us in the days following the decision to suspend my campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination for Governor of Virginia. 

As I’ve said before, this was a very difficult decision for me – probably the most difficult personal or professional decision I’ve ever had to make.  However, I know it was the right decision and we are at peace with the decision we made. 

I wish all of our candidates well as they move forward with their campaigns in 2013.  I encourage them to keep their focus on the issues that matter most to the people of Virginia and offer a positive vision for the future of our state.  

I truly want to see the Republican Party rebuild and become a big tent party that can win elections and get things done to better the people of Virginia.  That's what Governor McDonnell and I have done, and the results speak for themselves.
 
That's why I intend to focus on being a more independent voice for Virginia in the months to come, speaking out more objectively on the important issues facing our state and on the future of the Republican Party. 
 
My focus will now turn to the upcoming General Assembly session and the work that remains to be done in the McDonnell/Bolling administration.  Governor McDonnell and I have accomplished a lot over the past three years, but we have a lot of work left to do and we won’t stop working until we turn out the lights on January 11, 2014.
 
Thanks again for your friendship, confidence and support.  If I don’t see you before the holidays, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Harvard University on Monday posted audio files of its discussions from the 2012 Campaign Decision Makers Conference, held on the Cambridge, Mass. campus last week. The event included discussions with ABC News Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Washington Post Chief Political Correspondent Dan Balz, including numerous members of the Obama and Romney 2012 campaigns.

 

A spokesperson for the Kansas City Police Department on Monday said Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher owned the handgun he used in the muder of his girlfriend and the subsequent suicide, USA Today reports.

The spokesperson said he believes Belcher used the same gun in both shootings. Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend at their home in Kansas City on Saturday morning before driving to the team's practice facility and turning the weapon on himself.

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