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

Their speeches at the Democratic National Convention widely praised, first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton are both extremely popular in the crucial swing states of Ohio and North Carolina, according to a pair of polls released late Sunday night.

The latest releases from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that Obama and Clinton each notch favorability ratings near the 60 percent threshold in the two battlegrounds. In Ohio, 57 percent of likely voters say they have a favorable opinion of the first lady and the 42nd president. Fifty-five percent of North Carolina voters view Obama favorably, while 59 percent have a favorable view of Clinton. Clinton's national favorability rating is even higher. According to a USA Today/Gallup poll released last week, 69 percent of American adults view Clinton favorably.  

Sunday's poll shows that other DNC speakers battle low name recognition in the two purple states. At least 50 percent of voters in Ohio and North Carolina have no opinion of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Massachusetts Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren, while at least 80 percent of voters in both states are unfamiliar with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has been pegged as a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

President Barack Obama's base is weary. His opposition is fired up. On the day of his speech at the Democratic National Convention, and with just two months left until Election Day, his task is clear: Get supporters to the polls.

To that end, the president has used the bully pulpit in recent months to mobilize the disparate coalitions that helped power him to victory in 2008.

In the spring, Obama took on House Republicans over rising student loan rates, part of an effort to motivate young voters who proved instrumental to his win four years ago.

His endorsement of same-sex marriage has emerged as an organizing and fundraising tool for the campaign within the LGBT community.

The June directive to implement parts of the DREAM Act helped Obama expand an already massive lead among Latino voters.

Obama and the entire Democratic Party have for months highlighted Republican positions on contraception and abortion to widen their lead among women.

And the president is hoping that black voters -- a contingent that has been unwavering in its support of Obama -- will again turn out en masse this November.

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Jim Hunt, the former and longest serving governor of North Carolina, told delegates on Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention that Republicans believe they have a "magic" prescription for the country's economic woes.

"The other crowd doesn't get it," Hunt said. "They say just cut taxes for the wealthiest, get rid of regulations and job growth will happen by magic. Folks, magic didn't do it in North Carolina. This is not a time for America to believe in magic."


AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave a fiery address at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, suggesting that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney can't relate to the experience of the working class.

"Remember, last week, Mitt Romney told us that he and his friends built America without any help from the rest of us," Trumka told the crowd in Charlotte, N.C.  "Let me tell you, Mitt Romney doesn't know a thing about hard work or responsibility. We are the ones who built America. We are the ones who build it every single day."

Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) on Wednesday made a thinly veiled reference to a dubious episode from Mitt Romney's past to make the point that the Republicans will advance policies unfavorable to the middle class.

"With a Republican Congress sitting shotgun, Mitt Romney will put the middle class on the roof and take us for a long, painful ride," Murray told the audience at the Democratic National Convention.

Murray was referring to an incident involving Romney's dog, Seamus, who infamously rode on top of the family's car on a 12-hour road trip to Canada in the 1980s.

Former President Bill Clinton will headline the Democratic National Convention tonight boasting a personal best favorability rating, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday.  

Clinton is viewed favorably by 69 percent of American adults, the poll shows, while only 27 percent view him unfavorably.  That marks a new high for Clinton in Gallup's polling, which has spanned both his presidency and post-White House career.  Clinton's favorability rating is high across all sub-groups, including 73 percent among women.  

The poll also shows two other marquee convention speakers, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, claiming high personal popularity, with favorability ratings of 53 percent and 65 percent respectively.  Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, earns tepid reviews in the poll: 44 percent have a favorable view of Obama's second-in-command, compared with 45 percent who have an unfavorable view.  

A roughly equal number of Americans describe Vice President Joe Biden as "good" and as those who say he is an "idiot," according to a new survey released Wednesday by Pew Research Center.

The poll shows that the public ascribes more pejorative descriptors to President Barack Obama's second-in-command than positive terms.  When asked for a one word description of the vice president, 43 of those surveyed describe him as "good," while 40 call him an "idiot."  

Overall, 38 percent of respondents used negative terms, 23 percent used positive terms and 39 percent invoked neutral terms.  

Correction: The post originally referred to the portion of respondents who described Biden as "good" and as an "idiot" in terms of percentages, rather than as the number of people who responded that way.  

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt on Wednesday said the decision to shift locations for the president's Thursday night speech from the open air Bank of America Stadium to the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena was motivated by public safety, not concern over filling seats.

"Ultimately public safety comes first," LaBolt told MSNBC's Thomas Roberts. "We had 65,000 people slated to attend and we can't put them in that position. We looked at all of the weather forecasts out this morning and several predicted severe weather in the middle of the program tomorrow night."

LaBolt also pushed back against conspiracy theories floated by Republicans that the decision was made out of fear that the larger outdoor stadium would be littered with empty seats.

"I think those are unfortunate comments," LaBolt said. "We had 19,000 people on the wait list in addition to the 65,000 people ready to see the president tonight. I think if you look to the stories out this morning, there was a clear difference in enthusiasm here in Charlotte than you saw in Tampa last week."

Support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would make possession, consumption and recreational use of marijuana legal in Colorado continues to hover around the 50 percent mark, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The latest release from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows 47 percent of likely Colorado voters support Amendment 64, which would treat marijuana comparably to alcohol if passed, while 38 pecent are opposed — a mirror image to the results of PPP's survey a month ago.  Because of the somewhat confusing nature of the ballot language, PPP also asked Colorado voters if they simply favor or oppose the legalization of marijuana.  While 49 percent expressed support for legalization, 43 percent came out against.  

Amendment 64 will appear on the Colorado ballot this November.  

Romney campaign press secretary Andrea Saul on Tuesday was called out for the Republican ticket's repeated use of President Barack Obama's out-of-context "you didn't build that" line.

During Saul's appearance on MSNBC, host Andrea Mitchell highlighted the correct context of Obama's remarks — that the president was referring to infrastructure and not businesses — but the Romney spokeswoman refused to cede the point.

MITCHELL: When we talk about he didn't build it, we both know the context of that. All of the fact checkers, Andrea, show that that was -- he was talking about the bridges and the infrastructure that goes into building a small business. 

SAUL: Well, we know what he meant because he said it. He said if you have a small business, you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen. And it's not just that one sentence. He said time and again through his policies that he's hostile to job creators. He wants to raise taxes on small businesses. He's putting more burdensome regulation on all these job creators and it's just not a way to create jobs and make sure the economy can get going again.