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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

The re-election team of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) hopes to raise $2 million by the end of the year, Politico reported Wednesday.

According to Politico, the lofty fundraising goal helps explain why Christie filed for re-election this year instead of waiting until 2013:

Part of the impetus for Christie to declare his reelection bid this year was to begin fundraising, supporters said. Still, $2 million is a tall order, given New Jersey’s strict pay-to-play laws and the state’s $3,800 cap on donations.

One email to prospective donors asks “founding members” of the Christie fundraising committee to agree to raise $50,000 from 12 donors before New Year’s Eve.



 

Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), who was selected to succeed outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) earlier this week, said Wednesday that the best response to last week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. may not necessarily come in the form of "new legislation" on gun control, but instead a hard look at mental illness and the country's "culture of moral decay and of violence." 

“I think the solutions are not necessarily in new legislation. Perhaps the solution starts with us examining the mental condition of the person and the persons in the past that have had the desire to create the atrocities that we’ve seen recently," Scott told CNN's Soledad O'Brien. "So mental illness should be a major part of the conversation going forward. We should also look at an opportunity for us to engage this entire culture of moral decay and of violence. So when we start looking for solutions as a response to the crisis, I think we’re starting in the right place. If we draw conclusions quickly, we may draw flawed conclusions." 

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday informed British lawmakers that the country would withdraw roughly 3,800 of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2013, the Associated Press reports. Cameron said that Britain would enter 2014 with about 5,000 of its troops still in Afghanistan. 

 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) continues to nurse a negative approval rating while his hopes for a second term look grim, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University released Wednesday. 

The poll shows only 36 percent of Florida voters approve of the job Scott is doing, compared with 45 percent who disapprove. It's familiar territory for the beleagued Scott, whose low approval rating has been a persistent trend throughout his first term.

The poll from Quinnipiac also indicates that Scott's weak popularity could spell doom for his re-election prospects in 2014. A mere 30 percent of Florida voters said they believe the Republican deserves another term, while 52 percent said he does not. What's more, 55 percent think that Scott should be challenged by someone from his own party.  

The PollTracker Average provides a glimpse of the low approval ratings that have spanned Scott's first term. 

 

The New York Times reports:

The United Nations suspended all polio-related field activities in Pakistan on Wednesday after more attacks on public health workers attempting to immunize children. Two people were killed and another wounded around the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The shootings followed a day of violence on Tuesday in the port city of Karachi in which four female health workers were killed. The attacks Wednesday brought the death toll from the three-day polio immunization campaign to eight people, most of them women.

A report released Tuesday night by an independent panel lambasted the State Department for its failures to provide adequate security to the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya prior to the September attack that left four Americans dead, the New York Times reports. 

According to the Times, the report was highly critical of the State Department's "lack of seasoned security personnel" and reliance on "untested local militias to safeguard the compound" in Benghazi. 

More from the Times:

The investigation into the attack on the diplomatic mission and the C.I.A. annex in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans also faulted State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests from the American Embassy in Tripoli for more guards for the mission and for failing to make sufficient safety upgrades.

The panel also said American intelligence officials had relied too much on specific warnings of imminent attacks, which they did not have in the case of Benghazi, rather than basing assessments more broadly on a deteriorating security environment. By this spring, Benghazi, a hotbed of militant activity in eastern Libya, had experienced a string of assassinations, an attack on a British envoy’s motorcade and the explosion of a bomb outside the American Mission.

Finally, the report blamed two major State Department bureaus — Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs — for failing to coordinate and plan adequate security. The panel also determined that a number of officials had shown poor leadership, but they were not identified in the unclassified version of the report that was released.

“Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus,” the report said, resulted in security “that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.” 

 

Fifty-seven percent of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing and his party is viewed far more favorably than the Republican Party, according to a poll from CBS News released Tuesday evening.

Obama's approval rating is the highest it's been in the CBS poll since the killing of Osama bin Laden in May of 2011. Thirty-seven percent disapprove of the job the president is doing. Obama's party, meanwhile, earn far more positive marks than the Republican Party: 51 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Democratic Party, compared with just 31 percent who have a favorable opinion of the GOP.

Polls have consistently shown Obama's approval rating above 50 percent since he defeated Mitt Romney in the November election. The PollTracker Average reflects the president's post-election bounce.

 

Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker (D) is reportedly vacillating between a run for U.S. Senate in 2014 or a challenge to Gov. Chris Christie (R) next year, but records dug up by Politicker on Tuesday indicate that the popular Democrat with a prominent presence on Twitter has been prepared for either bid for quite some time: 

Records show Mr. Booker’s fundraising advisor and former City Hall staffer Bari Mattes has purchased the web domains for both “BookerForSenate” and BookerForGovernor. 

Ms. Mattes registered BookerForSenate.comBookerForSenate.net and BookerForGovernor.neton May 15, 2010. She registered BookerForGovernor.com on May 24, 2010. All of the domains expire in May 2014.

Authorities in Weld County, Colo. say a man shot and killed three people and then himself early Tuesday morning inside a suburban Denver home, Reuters reports:

Sergeant Tim Schwartz of the Weld County Sheriff's Office said police received a call from the home in a community about 35 miles north of Denver before dawn and heard a female voice say "No, no, no" before multiple gunshots were fired.

A man then came on the line and said he was going to kill himself, and the dispatcher heard another gunshot, Schwartz said.

According to Schwartz, the bodies of two males and two females included three adults, while one of the females may have been a teenager. A motive has not been determined.

 

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D), a candidate in the state's 2014 gubernatorial race, admitted that he has been involved in an "inappropriate" relationship with his attorney, the Associated Press reports.

Allegations of McDaniel's extramarital affair with Andrea L. Davis first surfaced in a custody dispute earlier this year between Davis and her ex-husband, who asked her in a court filing to admit that she's had sexual relations with the attorney general.

While McDaniel accepted culpability on Tuesday, he did not elaborate on the exact nature of his relationship with Davis. 

"With respect to Ms. Davis, I met her during the 2010 campaign. I had limited interaction with her in 2011, some of which I regret to say was inappropriate," he said in a statement.

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