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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

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) flashed his temper on Thursday morning when confronted with questions from a reporter regarding the former Republican presidential nominee's absence from a briefing on the September terrorist attacks at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

According to CNN, most Republican members of the Senate committee in charge of investigating the attacks were absent from the classified briefing, which was led by Obama administration officials on Wednesday. On the same day, McCain held a Capitol Hill press conference to call for a special investigation of the attacks and also took to the Senate floor to issue a blistering criticism of President Obama's handling of the situation in Benghazi. 

Approached by CNN's Ted Barrett on Thursday, McCain said he had no comment on his schedule or "how I spend my time to the media." When Barrett pressed McCain, the senator became agitated.

From CNN:

Asked why he wouldn't comment, McCain grew agitated: "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”

When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, "I'm upset that you keep badgering me."

While McCain refused to shed light on why he didn't show, his spokesman Brian Rogers emailed CNN a short time later with an explanation. He blamed it on a "scheduling error" but wouldn't provide any more detail.

Watch the video below, courtesy of CNN:

 

Voters believe the 2012 presidential campaign was heavy on the mudslinging and light on the issues, according to a new poll from Pew Research Center released on Thursday.

The poll paints a portrait of an American electorate with much more negative attitudes toward the just-concluded race than four years ago. Fifty-one percent of voters believe that the discussion of issues in the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney was "less than usual," while 68 percent believe that the negative campaigning in the campaign was "more than usual."

Both numbers are higher than in Pew's survey following the 2008 campaign between Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The negative assessment of this year's campaign colors voters' expectations for Washington in the years to come.

From Pew:

Similarly, voters do not have a particularly rosy outlook on national politics going forward. Fully 66% say that relations between Republicans and Democrats will either stay about the same (52%) or get worse (14%) over the next year. And while 56% of voters think Obama will be successful in his coming term, that is down from the 67% who thought his first term would be successful at this point four years ago.

As President Obama prepares to take on a second term, a new poll released Thursday may help crystallize what Americans believe his priorities should be for the next four years. 

The latest poll from USA Today and Gallup shows that a whopping 95 percent of American adults believe it is either "extremely" or "very" important that Obama "take major steps to restore a strong economy and job market." Eighty-eight percent apply the same designation to ensuring the "long-term stability of Medicare and Social Security," while another 79 percent think it is extremely or very important for the Obama administration to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Large majorities of those surveyed applied the highest level of importance to most of the policies included in the survey. In fact, only three policy areas were deemed extremely or very important by less than 50 percent, including one of the signature debates of the 2012 campaign: raising taxes on those with income above $250,000 (47 percent), providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (37 percent) and making significant cuts to defense and military spending (29 percent).

Karl Rove on Wednesday pointed to another reason why Mitt Romney fell short last week: the protracted Republican nomination contest that spanned several months and saw a handful of different frontrunners before the party ultimately settled on the former Massachusetts governor.

Rove, whose super PAC American Crossroads dropped hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Republican candidates this year, told a crowd at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy in Erie, Pa. that the GOP primaries featured "way too many debates" and often veered away from the paramount issue of the economy to focus on social issues instead. The process, Rove contended, put Romney in an unfavorable light.

"Mitt Romney had what I scientifically call a butt-ugly primary,'' Rove said.

Invoking presidential proclamation, President Barack Obama today declared November 15, 2012 as "America Recycles Day," calling upon the country to "observe this day with appropriate programs and activities."

More from the proclamation:

As many of us prepare to gather with families and friends this Thanksgiving, America Recycles Day offers a chance to highlight another resource that is too often taken for granted: food. Though many Americans lack access to regular, nutritious meals, much of our country's food goes to waste. To put surplus food to better use, the Environmental Protection Agency is partnering with businesses and organizations in the Food Recovery Challenge, which is helping participants support their communities through food donation and protect their bottom line by reducing waste. By consuming carefully and donating what we can, each of us can join in that important work. Food banks and pantries accept wholesome food that meets quality and safety standards, as do many national and local food recovery programs. Through giving to those in need, all Americans can lift up their communities while helping protect the environment we share.

More than 100 rockets fired from militants in the Gaza Strip descended on the suburbs of Tel Aviv on Thursday, the Associated Press reports.

One rocket that landed in Rishon Lezion claimed no casualties but the AP reports that it was "by far the deepest target reached by Gaza militants so far":

Although the rocket in Rishon Lezion, some 60 kilometers, or 40 miles north of Gaza, landed harmlessly in an open area, it illustrated the significant capabilities that Hamas militants have developed in recent years. Gaza militants had previously hit the city in 2009 fighting as well.

Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on much of New Jersey the week before the 2012 campaign drew to a close, and the biennial Election Day exit polls were nearly a casualty of the disaster.

Mark Blumenthal of Pollster reported on Wednesday that the organization in charge of conducting the exit polls is based in an area of New Jersey heavily affected by Sandy, and its operations were nearly jeopardized by the devastating storm:

What made the exit polls especially challenging this year is that Edison Research, the company that conducts the exit polls on behalf of the National Election Pool (NEP) consortium of the five television networks and the Associated Press, is in Somerville, N.J. It was directly in the path of Hurricane Sandy, and nearly knocked out of business by the storm at a critical moment in its preparations.

But Edison was able to anticipate the incoming storm and made the necessary preparations to avoid an outright cancellation of the exit polls:

With the forecast showing Sandy heading toward the mid-Atlantic states, Edison founder and executive vice president Joe Lenski rushed printing the paper questionnaires whose content had been finalized on Oct. 26. By the following day, they were able to print and ship about two- thirds of the questionnaires ahead of schedule.

 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee next month on the September terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Politico reports.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairwoman of the committee, announced Thursday morning that Clinton had agreed to testify.

“The Secretary has committed to testifying before our Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Accountability Review Board’s report, which is expected to be concluded by early to mid-December,” Ros-Lehtinen said during a different hearing on the attacks that left four Americans dead.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry said that 13 people have been killed in Gaza due to a spate of Israeli airstrikes, the Washington Post reports. According to the ministry, five of the 13 victims were militans while the other eight were civilians, including two children.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi sharply denounced Israel's recent airstrikes on the Gaza Strip during a televised address on Thursday, Reuters reports.

"We are in contact with the people of Gaza and with Palestinians and we stand by them until we stop the aggression," Morsi said. "The Israelis must realize that this aggression is unacceptable and would only lead to instability in the region".

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