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

President Barack Obama claims his highest approval rating since since the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday, but the public overwhelmingly dismisses the notion that he has a mandate.

The poll shows 54 percent of American adults approve of the job Obama is doing, compared with 42 percent who disapprove — the highest shown in ABC/WaPo's polling since May 2011. Nevertheless, 56 percent said Obama does not have “a mandate to carry out the agenda he presented during the presidential campaign,” but instead should " “compromise on things the Republicans strongly oppose." Thirty-four percent said the president does have a mandate.

Still, Obama claims an 18-point edge over Republicans in the public's trust to handle the economy, as well as a 26-point advantage over the GOP in trust to protect the middle class. Moreover, 50 percent said they approve of Obama's handling of the economy, his highest mark in the category since the ABC/WaPo poll in June of 2010, while 48 percent disapprove. 


Michael Dukakis, the former Massachusetts governor and one-time Democratic presidential nominee, ended speculation on Monday that he will serve as interim senator following the expected nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) as Secretary of State. 

“That’s a no,” Dukakis said in a brief interview with Boston-based CBS affiliate WBZ-TV.

If Kerry is tapped to head the State Department as anticipated, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) must fill the seat until a special election is held.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Monday said he does not regret his failed presidential campaign last year, a bid that was notable for several gaffes and shaky debate performances.

"It was an extraordinary experience -- I mean, one that I wouldn't trade," Perry said before a local tea party outfit in North Richland Hills, Texas. "And looking back on it ... I would do it again."

Perry has said repeatedly that he will consider running for president again in 2016. 

In response to last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, a Republican legislator in South Dakota on Monday said that she will introduce a bill that would permit school personnel — from teachers to janitors — to bring guns to their workplace. 

State Rep. Betty Olson of Prairie City, S.D. told the Associated Press that arming faculty members could have thwarted gunman Adam Lanza and minimized the carnage in Newtown, Conn.

"Those children and teachers, that was like shooting fish in a barrel," Olson said.

From the AP:

In a scenario described by Olson, armed school personnel could have felled Lanza with a lethal shot by waiting for him to reload or turn his head. Olson dismissed the idea that people attempting to intervene could injure others in the crossfire or become victims themselves.

"They're going to be dead regardless, the way I see it, so (being armed) is the only chance they've got," she said.


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke on Monday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the Associated Press. With Maliki at the Baghdad hospital where Talabani is being treated, medical personnel were still trying to stabilize the president's condition as of Tuesday. 

An official within the Iraqi cabinet told the AP that Talabani fainted Monday and is still unconscious.

From the AP:

Doctors have not decided whether Talabani will continue to be treated in Baghdad or will be flown to another country for treatment, he said. He was unable to provide further details.

Talabani's office earlier said the Iraqi president had been rushed to the hospital after showing signs of fatigue on Monday evening, and that he was being treated for an unspecified health problem.


The Associated Press reports:

Gunmen killed five Pakistani women working on a U.N.-backed polio vaccination campaign in two different cities on Tuesday, officials said. The attacks were likely an attempt by the Taliban to counter an initiative the militant group has opposed.

After Syracuse University's Jim Boeheim became only the third Division I men's college basketball coach to win 900 games on Monday, the hall of famer emerged as the latest individual to use his prominent platform to call for more stringent restrictions on guns in the wake of last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

"If we cannot get the people who represent us to do something about firearms, we are a sad, sad society," Boeheim said during a press conference following his team's 72-68 win over Detroit. "If one person in this world, the NRA president, anybody, can tell me why we need assault weapons with 30 shots -- this is our fault if we don't go out there and do something about this. If we can't get this thing done, I don't know what kind of country we have."



Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on Monday officially succeeded the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) as the president pro tempore of the Senate -- the longest serving member of the chamber's majority party.

According to the Washington Post, the Senate passed a resolution giving Leahy the distinction "less than two hours" after Inouye passed Monday evening from respiratory complications. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Commitee, released a statement Monday indicating that the panel will hold a hearing in the next congressional session "to help in the search for understanding and answers" following last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

The statement:

“Few events in my lifetime have emotionally roiled the Nation – all of us – as deeply as have the senseless killings last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.  Wrenching images and personal stories that spilled out from that tragedy have forever been imprinted on our collective memories.

“In my family, and I know in families from coast to coast, parents called their children.  Brothers called sisters.  Neighbors reached out to neighbors.  Over the weekend and again today, in discussions across church pews, on the sidewalk, in the grocery line, at the worksite and in our offices, we all have struggled for words to describe our feelings of shock and immeasurable sadness.

“Last night President Obama gave voice – our voice – to let these stricken families know how deeply we want to help relieve their suffering, as we share, through the small ways we can, in their grief.

“Many questions about this unspeakable tragedy have yet to be answered. 

“As the President has pointed out, it is unlikely that any single step, or package of steps, can erase the chance of such a tragedy happening again.  We know that sometimes things happen that are beyond understanding.  We also know that situations vary widely from state to state and from community to community.  But we must take on the responsibility of searching for answers. 

“Congress can and should be part of this national discussion and search for answers.  The Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing early in the next congressional session to help in the search for understanding and answers.  I expect that other committees will also take part in this national discussion.

“If there are practical, sensible, workable answers to prevent such unspeakable tragedy, we should make the effort to find them.”

Ohio Gov. Jon Kasich (R) on Monday halted the planned execution of a killer who argued that his obesity precludes a humane execution, the Associated Press reports:

Kasich followed a recommendation of mercy by the state parole board, which said it didn't doubt Ronald Post's guilt but said there were too many problems with how he was represented 30 years ago. Post, who weighs 450 pounds, never raised the issue of his size with the board.

In its Friday decision, the parole board rejected arguments made by Post's attorneys that he deserves mercy because of lingering doubts about his "legal and moral guilt" in a woman's death, but it said it couldn't ignore perceived missteps by his lawyers.

Post was scheduled to die Jan. 16 for killing Elyria motel clerk Helen Vantz in a 1983 robbery.