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Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a News Writer for Talking Points Memo based in New York City. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, Tom served as assistant polling editor for TPM Media's PollTracker during the 2012 campaign. Before joining TPM, he worked on political campaigns and wrote for various publications in Minnesota and his native South Dakota. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

The AP reports:

International envoy Kofi Annan says he has agreed with President Bashar Assad on an approach to end the violence in Syria.

Annan did not disclose details, but says he will also discuss it with the country's armed opposition.

Judge Richard Posner was appointed to the bench by former President Ronald Reagan, and has earned a sparkling reputation as a conservative jurist. But Posner, a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, says the current incarnation of the Republican Party has driven him away from conservatism.

In a candid interview with NPR Thursday, Posner opened up about what he sees as a "real deterioration in conservative thinking" over the last decade.

"I've become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy," Posner said.

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Former presidential candidate turned conservative commentator Mike Huckabee says he harbors no grudge toward Mitt Romney for the often contentious campaign the two waged against each other in 2008.  

In an interview with Andrew Goldman of the New York Times published Friday, Huckabee dismissed the notion that Romney is still a rival, saying that the former Massachusetts governor is clearly his preferred choice over President Barack Obama.   

"Four years ago, Mitt Romney was my opponent, and he was saying some brutal things about me, and he and I were both vying for the same position," Huckabee said. "But I’m looking ahead now, and my question is real simple: which person, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, would be a better president? It’s not hard for me to be enthusiastically supportive of Mitt Romney."

In his 2009 book, "Do The Right Thing," Huckabee took a notable swipe at Romney for failing to make a congratulatory phone call following Huckabee's victory in the 2008 Iowa Caucus.  Huckabee turned coy when Goldman highlighted a quote from 2008, when the former Arkansas governor said that voters want a candidate who "reminds them of the guy they work with rather than the guy who laid them off” — seemingly a thinly veiled shot at Romney.

"I will let everybody draw their own conclusions," Huckabee said.

Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies announced on Friday a new $25 million ad buy, with a new spot slated to begin airing in eight swing states next week. 

The ad, titled "Excuses," will air in local markets in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia beginning July 10 and running through early August. 

“We’re suffering through one of the weakest economic recoveries in our history, and the only thing President Obama is offering is slogans and excuses,” Steven Law, president of Crossroads GPS, said in a press release.  “People are hungering for practical solutions to our skyrocketing debt and flat-lined economy, and that’s what we are putting forward in our New Majority Agenda.”

Watch the ad below:

 

CNN reports:

Manaf Tlas, a Sunni general in Syria's elite Republican Guards, has defected, a Western diplomat said Friday, a stunning blow to the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Tlas, the son of a former Syrian defense minister and cousin of a first lieutenant in al-Assad's army, is possibly the most senior Sunni in a power structure dominated by the Alawite minority.

"He's an inside confidant of Assad. So it counts that even an insider thinks it's time to go," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official was not authorized to speak to the media.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday issued pointed criticism at Russia and China for thwarting measures to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

During a speech at the Friends of Syria conference in Paris, Clinton accused Russia and China of "standing up" forthe Syrian president.  She said the roughly 60 countries present at the conference should "make it clear that Russia and China will pay a price" for showing solidarity with the al-Assad regime.

"I ask you to reach out to Russia and China and not only ask but demand that they get off the sidelines," Clinton said. "I don't think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all, nothing at all, for standing with (the) Assad regime."

The U.S. Department of Education on Friday is expected to formally relieve both Washington and Wisconsin of some of the requirements associated with "No Child Left Behind," the AP reports.

Washington and Wisconsin will join 24 other states that have been granted waivers from the federal education law that originally passed in 2001.  

More Americans think the Affordable Care Act will hurt the economy rather than help it, according to a new poll from Gallup released Thursday.

The survey shows that 46 percent think the health care overhaul signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court last week will hurt the national economy.  Comversely, 37 percent believe the law will help the economy. 

Not surprisingly, the results of the poll fall along party lines: 62 percent of Democrats say the Affordable Care Act will help the economy compared with 78 percent of Republicans who think it will hurt the economy.  But in a development that could impact the degree to which "Obamacare" is addressed by the two parties in the 2012 campaign, independents are more likely to say the law will hurt the economy.  

After becoming entangled in contradictory messages over the Supreme Court's characterization of the individual mandate as a tax, Mitt Romney's campaign is drawing sharp scrutiny on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal.  In a scathing editorial published Wednesday evening, the Journal writes that the Romney camp "looks confused in addition to being politically dumb" after the presumptive Republican nominee told CBS that he believes the mandate is a tax, a position at odds with remarks made by senior campaign adviser Eric Ferhnstrom earlier this week.  The piece also takes aim at the lack of specifics put forward by Romney.  

From the Journal:

The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault. We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that "Obama isn't working." Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is assailing Mr. Romney as an out-of-touch rich man, and the rich man obliged by vacationing this week at his lake-side home with a jet-ski cameo. Team Obama is pounding him for Bain Capital, and until a recent ad in Ohio the Romney campaign has been slow to respond.

Team Obama is now opening up a new assault on Mr. Romney as a job outsourcer with foreign bank accounts, and if the Boston boys let that one go unanswered, they ought to be fired for malpractice.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will make an appearance in the highly anticipated film "The Dark Knight Rises," the AP reports.  

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee reportedly made the cut in a scene involving Christian Bale, who plays Batman, and Morgan Freeman.  For Leahy, the cameo is a reprisal of sorts.  The senator, an avid Batman fan, appeared in the 2008 phenomenon "The Dark Knight."  Leahy's appearance in that movie occurred in a memorable scene during which the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, crashes a party.  

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