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

In the weeks following Mitt Romney's defeat to President Obama, there's been no shortage of reports suggesting that the former Republican nominee's campaign was caught off guard by the election results. The surprise among the Romney team has been attributed to internal polling data that gave the GOP ticket a false sense of confidence. Now, details of those internal numbers are finally beginning to trickle out.

Noam Scheiber of the New Republic reports today on a handful of internal polls conducted on behalf of the Romney camp on the Saturday and Sunday before the election in six battlegrounds: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Hampshire. While the two-day averages showed Obama with the lead in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, the data showed a tied race in Iowa and gave Romney the edge in Colorado and New Hampshire.

From Scheiber's report, which includes reactions from the Romney campaign's pollster Neil Newhouse:

The first thing you notice is that New Hampshire and Colorado are pretty far off the mark. In New Hampshire, the final internal polling average has Romney up 3.5 points, whereas he lost by 5.6. In Colorado, the final internal polling average has Romney up 2.5 points; he lost by 5.4. “I’m not sure what the answer is,” Newhouse told me, explaining that his polls were a lot more accurate in most of the other swing states. “The only ones we had that really seemed to be off were Colorado—a state that even Obama’s people tweeted they thought it was going to be one of their closest states—and the New Hampshire numbers, which seemed to bounce a lot during the campaign.”

A spokeswoman for Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) on Thursday offered a peculiar explanation for why the re-elected congressman is abandoning Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge: his district number changed.

Originally elected in 2010 in New York's 20th Congressional District, Gibson won a second term this year in the state's newly redrawn 19th Congressional District. That, Gibson's spokeswoman Stephanie Valle said in a statement, is sufficient reason to walk back the pledge he signed two years ago. Like the old 20th District, Gibson's current district also encompasses New York's Hudson Valley although it does lean slightly more Democratic.

The statement:

The Congressman signed the pledge as a candidate in 2010 for the 20th Congressional District. As a 24-year veteran of the United States Army, without a legislative record, the pledge was his commitment to the district he was running to represent that he would fight for Upstate families, small businesses, and farmers in Congress, recognizing that high taxes are an impediment to growth in New York and result in less discretionary income for NY families. Since being elected, he has fought for these pro-growth policies that include reforming the tax code to close loopholes that don’t grow the economy so that we can lower rates for families, small businesses, and farms in New York.

Regarding the pledge moving forward, Congressman Gibson doesn’t plan to resign it for the 19th Congressional District, which he now represents (the pledge is to your constituents of a numbered district). Those voters have just evaluated the Congressman on his record and his record is the same as his position now – again, that he’ll fight for tax policy that helps those he represents.

He is opposed to increasing the marginal rates for individuals and businesses and has voted against this as a standalone measure; however, he will consider all comprehensive packages brought forward as a result of bipartisan negotiations.


With New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) looking increasingly invincible, a poll released Thursday offers an alternative higher office for Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker (D). 

The latest automated survey from left-leaning Public Policy Polling shows Booker as the overwhelming preference among New Jersey Democrats to run in the state's 2014 U.S. Senate race. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who is 88, has not announced if he will seek a sixth term, but Thursday's poll indicates that his in-state party peers would rather see a Booker candidacy. Given the choice between the two, 59 percent of Garden State Democrats prefer Booker as the party's 2014 nominee, while only 22 percent prefer Lautenberg.

Moreover, Booker's 23-point edge over GOP Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno among all voters is wider than Lautenberg's 15-point margin in the hypothetical general election matchups. Booker has not announced whether he will challenge Christie in the state's gubernatorial election next year, but recent polls have shown that the Democrat may be no match for the ulta-popular Republican governor.


Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) on Thursday said in a statement that he will make a formal decision on his re-election plans "later next year," but it was the subsequent line in the press release that has many thinking he will make a run in 2014.

"But I feel great, still have work to do, and I fully intend to put together a winning campaign in the weeks and months ahead," Johnson said in the statement, which came in response to the news that former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) will run for Senate in 2014. 

If Johnson's statement was somewhat cryptic, the South Dakota Democratic Party appears to be all but confirming that the three-term incumbent will run again. An email penned by state party chairman Ben Nesselhuf and circulated shortly after Rounds made his announcement urges supporters "stand with Senator Johnson."

"Pledge right now to stand behind our Democratic senator over the next two years," Nesselhuf wrote. "Let's show Republicans across South Dakota that we're going to do everything in our power to protect working South Dakotans by supporting Senator Tim Johnson."

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) welcomed former South Dakota Mike Rounds (R) to the state's 2014 U.S. Senate race in a statement released on Thursday. 

Rounds announced his intention to run on Thursday morning, although it remains unclear if he will face Johnson or someone else. Johnson, a three-term Democratic incumbent who suffered a life-threatening brain hemorage in 2006, said he feels "great" and that he intends to formally announce his plans next year, adding that he plans to "put together a winning campaign in the weeks and months ahead."

The statement:

I consider Mike a friend, and I welcome him to the race.  I had an excellent working relationship with him during his eight years as Governor, and the fact that he has already re-stated his refusal to take the Grover Norquist "no tax increases under any circumstances" pledge is a very good sign. 

Our country faces a real fiscal dilemma, and tax increases on the wealthy absolutely have to be a part of the solution.  While I'm sure that Mike and I will have some policy disagreements–which is to be expected–I am more than willing to give credit where it is due.  And the fact that Mike realizes that it is irresponsible to take tax increases off the negotiating table is absolutely to his credit. 

As in past campaigns, I will make my formal announcement later next year.  But I feel great, still have work to do, and I fully intend to put together a winning campaign in the weeks and months ahead.  In the meantime, I intend to continue to focus on my important work representing South Dakota.

Mike Rounds, the former two-term Republican governor of South Dakota, announced on Thursday that he will run for U.S. Senate in 2014, the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D. reports.

Three-term incumbent Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) will be up for re-election in 2014, but he has not yet announced if he will run. Johnson suffered a life-threatening brain hemorage in late 2006, but he recovered from the scare to return to the Senate. He won re-election in 2008 by a resounding margin. 

Rounds, who was popular throughout his eight years in the governor's office, launched an exploratory committee for a potential Senate run in September. 

Democrats and Republicans diverge sharply on their opinions of capitalism, socialism, big business and the federal government, according to a survey from Gallup released Thursday.

The poll shows that Republicans react more positively to terms such as "capitalism" and "big business" than their Democratic counterparts. Seventy-two percent of GOPers surveyed have a positive opinion of capitalism, while 75 percent view big business in positive terms. Democrats react more coolly to both: 55 percent have a positive impression of capitalism and only 44 percent have a positive opinion of big business.

The reactions flip when it comes to "socialism" and the "federal government." A little more than half of Democrats, 53 percent, have a positive view of socialism, while 75 percent have a positive image of the federal government. Less than 30 percent of Republicans surveyed have a positive view of each.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) on Thursday said he's been taken aback by the amount of praise he's received from his Democratic counterparts in recent days, given that he's rarely seen eye-to-eye with any of them previously.

"I've never had so many nice things said about me by people that I don't agree with on anything," Cole said during an appearance on CNN's "Starting Point."

Cole made headlines on Tuesday when it was revealed that he urged his GOP colleagues to immeidately accept President Obama's proposal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000, winning him commendation from congressional Democrats. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the Oklahoma congressman on Wednesday. But on Thursday, Cole re-iterated that he and Murray still aren't exactly simpatico.

"I respect Sen. Murray, but she's one out there arguing to go over the fiscal cliff. She thinks that would be a good idea. That's a crazy idea," Cole said. "With all due respect, I'm not sure she really wants my idea accepted because she's argued for the opposite position."

The BBC reports:

Julian Assange, who is living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, has a chronic lung infection "which could get worse at any moment", the country's ambassador to the UK has warned.

Ana Alban said the Wikileaks founder, who is fighting UK efforts to send him to Sweden, was suffering from living "in a confined space".

Stuart Stevens, a former top adviser to Mitt Romney, commended President Barack Obama's re-election team on Thursday, but argued that the Republican nominee ran a more nationally focused campaign.

"There were two very different campaigns that were run. When you listen to the Obama campaign and let me be the first to say they ran a great campaign. It was a campaign they could have lost and they won and that's the definition of a great campaign in my book," Stevens said during an appearance on "CBS This Morning."

"They ran very state specific issues, less of a national campaign. That was not why Governor Romney was running. He wanted to talk about big national issues — debt, entitlements, the future of the country. He wanted to put big questions before the country. And he did that. And I think the comparison of those two was striking. It was striking in the debates."

Watch the interview: