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

Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) told Politico that he is being "encouraged" to pursue the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, a post currently held by Reince Priebus. 

Priebus has already signaled his intention to run for another term, and Watts did not speak ill of the current chairman in the interview. But Watts, an African-American who represented Oklahoma in the House of Representatives from 1994 until 2002, told Politico that the results of the previous two presidential election cycles should be a cause of concern for his party.

“My concern right now, and I don’t say this necessarily as a candidate [for RNC chairman], my concern is that as a Republican, every single Republican in America ought to be concerned about what has happened in 2008 and 2012,” Watts said in the interview, which was published on Sunday. “In this business, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Watts did not specify who was urging him to run.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Two men have been detained after a veteran U.S. Coast Guard chief petty officer was killed Sunday after suspected smugglers in a panga rammed his vessel off the Ventura County coast.

The Coast Guard declined to identify them or say whether drugs were found aboard the boat. A second suspicious vessel was believed to have been traveling alongside the panga before the incident.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our shipmate," said Adm. Robert J. Papp, the Coast Guard commandant. "Our fallen shipmate stood the watch on the front lines protecting our nation, and we are all indebted to him for his service and sacrifice."

Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, 34, of Redondo Beach was second in command of the Halibut, an 87-foot patrol cutter based in Marina del Rey. Authorities said they could not recall a Coast Guard chief petty officer being killed in such a manner off the coast of California.

Early Sunday morning, the Halibut was dispatched to investigate a boat operating near Santa Cruz Island, the largest of California's eight Channel Islands. The island is roughly 25 miles southwest of Oxnard.

Americans give members of Congress extremely low ratings on honesty and ethics, according to a survey from Gallup released Monday.

The poll tested 22 professions, asking respondents to measure the honesty and ethical standards of each. Only 10 percent of Americans rated the honesty and ethics of Congressional members as "high" or "very high." Fifty-four percent gave lawmakers on Capitol Hill the lowest marks possible — the highest negative rating of any profession included in the survey.

Congressional members only outpace car salespeople, whose honesty and ethics rated the lowest in the survey. Nurses were rated as the most honest and ethical. 


Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) will present an Oscar statuette Saturday to a documentarian who made a 2006 film about the comedian-turned-politician. 

D.A. Pennebaker will receive the honor at the Motion Picture Academy's 4th annual Governors Awards in Hollywood for his documentary, "Al Franken: God Spoke."

An explosion erupted on Friday morning at a federal office building in Casa Grande, Ariz.

The explosion occurred around 8:15 a.m. local time at a Social Security Administration building. Although there were multiple people in the building at the time, there were no reported injuries. Authorities said the explosion appeared to be triggered by a device, which was placed on the back door of the building.

AzFamily.com reported that U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was sending investigators to the site of the explosion.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave a blistering assessment of the White House's budget proposal, telling the Wall Street Journal that the deal offered by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday was "almost comical."

"He noticed that I laughed. That pretty well summed up my view of what he was saying," McConnell said on Friday, adding that he thought it must have been "demeaning" for Geithner to put such a plan forward.



New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) probably wouldn't relish a campaign against his idol, but a poll released Friday indicates that not even rock icon Bruce Springsteen could top the popular Republican in the state's gubernatorial race next year. 

The latest automated survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling shows Christie comfortably besting "The Boss" in a hypothetical (and probably far-fetched) matchup 61 percent to 25 percent. Christie also claims large leads in the four other matchups tested by PPP, including a 14-point edge over Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker. 

Christie's Springsteen fandom is well-documented. When the two chatted at a benefit concert in November for victims of Superstorm Sandy, Christie said he was moved to tears.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) would carry his own state in the 2016 presidential race over Vice President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) but a Hillary Clinton candidacy would keep the Garden State blue, according to a survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling released on Friday.

In the hypothetical matchups, Christie tops Biden by 6 points and Cuomo by 15 points. But the popular Republican governor is no match for Clinton, who beats Christie in the poll 52 percent to 40 percent. A Republican has not carried New Jersey in a presidential election since 1988.

The poll also shows a slight plurality of 44 percent would prefer Christie not to run for president in 2016, while 38 percent would like him to run.

Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman continued to offer a critical take on his party's current woes, arguing during a Friday morning appearance on CNN that the GOP often gets bogged down addressing "fringe issues."

"We kind of drift in areas where we take on fringe issues, and it gets us stuck in the alleyways of life that take our focus away from what is really important for the American people, and that is individual freedom and that is getting the budgets balanced so people can get on with their lives," Huntsman said.

The comments come on the heels of an interview Huntsman gave to the Huffington Post earlier this week in which the former Utah governor took aim at other members of the GOP presidential field in 2012.