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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

Conservative commentator Joe Scarborough and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) had a tense argument over gun control during an interview Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Huelskamp rejected the notion that an assault weapons ban would prevent gun violence, and criticized President Obama and others for politicizing last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The Kansas congressman argued that the Newtown shooting stemmed from a "cultural problem," and that a law addressing access to firearms would be futile.

"I think it's an issue of the Second Amendment, says we have the right to defend ourselves," Huelskamp said. "The Supreme Court has upheld that. But gosh, let's step back. Let's not build on the tragedy in Connecticut and use that to actually push a political agenda."

Scarborough took umbrage to Huelskamp's characterization.

"Use that to push a political agenda? Let me ask you, what was your feeling after Sept. 11, congressman?" an indignant Scarborough asked. "Were there some changes made in this country after the tragedy of Sept. 11? Was that just using a tragedy, 3,000 deaths, to make America safer? Do you dare come on my show and say I am using the slaughter of 20 little six and seven year old children? I'm using that for political purposes, Tim?"

Watch the exchange:

 

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) on Thursday levied sharp criticism toward House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for the failure of the GOP leadership's fiscal cliff proposal, the so-called "Plan B," to garner enough votes to pass the chamber. 

“It weakens the entire Republican Party, the Republican majority," LaTourette said, as quoted by Roll Call. "It’s the continuing dumbing-down of the Republican Party and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get a majority of our own people to support policies that we’re putting forward."

President Barack Obama's job approval rating reached 56 percent in Thursday's edition of the Gallup daily tracking poll, the highest mark since October 13, 2009. 

Thursday's release also showed 37 percent disapprove of Obama, the lowest it's been in Gallup's polling since the same October 2009 release. 

The PollTracker Average captures the post-election bump to Obama's approval rating.

 

After announcing his intentions to "explore the possibility" of a run for U.S. Senate in 2014, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker will sit down with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, according to an announcement made on the show's Twitter feed today.

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday welcomed Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker's announcement that he will "explore the possibility" of a senate run in 2014, but noted that they still "have to work out a few issues." 

“He’s a very good man, he would be a good senator,” Reid told Politico. “Of course we have to work out a few issues, but he would be a wonderful senator and he’s a great man.”

Perhaps the biggest issue to resolve is the political future of 88-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), whose seat Booker will pursue. Anonymous aides to Reid told Politico that the senior senator from Nevada would support Lautenberg if he opts to seek another term.



Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker announced in a video posted to YouTube on Thursday that he will "explore the possibility of running for the United States Senate in 2014" after reports surfaced earlier in the day indicating that he had opted against a challenge to Gov. Chris Christie (R) in the state's gubernatorial election next year. 

The seat Booker will consider pursuing is currently held by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who is 88 years old. Booker said he will "consult" with Lautenberg during the exploration period.

"As I explore a run for the United States Senate, I look forward to consulting with Sen. Frank Lautenberg," Booker said. "It would be a privilege, an honor to continue his legacy of service."

Watch the announcement:

 

 

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker has opted against challenging Gov. Chris Christie (R) in the state's gubernatorial election next year, according to multiple reports Thursday.

NBC 4 New York reported that Booker plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014 and will announce his intentions on Twitter today. Meanwhile, PolitickerNJ.com reported only that Booker will not run for governor. The road to the Senate looks smoother than one to the governor's mansion for Booker. Christie's approval ratings saw a dramatic rise following Superstorm Sandy. According to NBC 4, Booker will pursue the seat currently held by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who is 88 years old and not expected to run for re-election when his term ends in two years.

PolitickerNJ, citing anonymous sources, reported that people close to Booker were "hedging and referring to his potential to go suddenly out of the box" as late as Wednesday night. But most in Booker's inner circle were "shifting gears away from the mayor to consider other possibilities" aside from the 2013 gubernatorial run. One person close to Booker floated the idea of a third term as mayor of Newark, "which seemed to have legs" even though he has ruled out such an option in the past.

This post has been updated.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) may be on his way out of public office following his November defeat to Elizabeth Warren, but a poll released Thursday indicates that the moderate Republican may be well-positioned for a shot at redemption.

The poll, conducted by MassINC Polling Group, shows that Brown remains in good standing among his Massachusetts constituents, with 58 percent of Bay State voters viewing their junior senator favorably. Additionally, the poll suggests that Brown would be the favorite in a special election to fill the seat expected to be vacated by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the anticipated successor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Brown tops every Democratic opponent in hypothetical matchups tested in the poll. He leads Gov. Deval Patrick (D) -- the preferred choice among Democrats to run in the special election -- by 7 points and state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), who he defeated in the 2010 special election to fill the seat held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D), by 15 points. 

 

Outgoing Rep. Allen West (R-FL) on Thursday morning suggested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who postponed her testimony regarding the September attack on a U.S. mission in Libya that was scheduled for this week after fainting and suffering a concussion, is not legitimately under the weather but instead came down "with a case of Benghazi flu."

“I’m not a doctor, but it seems as though that the secretary of state has come down with a case of Benghazi flu,” West said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends." “I think we have to get to the bottom of this, there’s still very — countless amount of unanswered questions.” 

Watch the exchange:
 

 
 

Seventy-three percent of Americans oppose immediate military intervention in Syria, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Thursday, but those attitudes would flip completely if circumstances were to deteriorate in the war-torn country. 

The poll indicates that the public would be more supportive of military intervention if chemical weapons were used or if Syria attacks launches an attack on American ally. Sixty-three percent said they would support military involvement if the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad deploys chemical weapons on its own people, while 70 percent would be in favor of a U.S. military intervention if the Syrian government loses control of those weapons. 

Moreover, 69 percent said they would back military intervention if Syria attacks an ally to the U.S.

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