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

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.  

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is still committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act; he just thinks it might be tough to pull off.

During an appearance Monday at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown, Ky., McConnell admitted that the prospect of repealing "Obamacare" could be politically impractical, WHAS-TV reports.

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Mitt Romney holds a 5-point edge over President Barack Obama in the coveted swing state of North Carolina, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The poll was conducted June 29-July 1 by SurveyUSA on behalf of Civitas Institute, a conservative organization based in North Carolina.  Romney earns the support of 50 percent of Tar Heel State voters, compared with 45 percent who prefer Obama.  The presumptive Republican nominee enjoys massive support from North Carolina independents, topping Obama among the key voting bloc, 54 percent to 36 percent.

Obama carried North Carolina in 2008 and the selection of Charlotte to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention made it clear that the state figured prominently in the party's electoral outlook.  The PollTracker Average currently shows Romney with a narrow advantage over Obama in North Carolina.  



The public is divided over the Supreme Court's ruling last week on the Affordable Care Act, while President Barack Obama's health care plans earn significantly higher marks than Mitt Romney's approach to the issue, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted June 28-July 1, examines the high court's decision to uphold virtually all of the law known to most as "Obamacare," as well as the two presidential candidates' health care plans.  Forty-three percent have a favorable view of the Supreme Court's ruling, compared with 42 percent who have an unfavorable view.  

The public is similarly divided when it comes to Obama's approach to health care: 45 percent view the president's plans favorably for the health care system, while 48 percent view them unfavorably.  That's a tepid score, but it's still better than the public's views of Romney's approach to health care.  Only 30 percent view the presumptive Republican nominee's plans for health care favorably, compared with 47 percent who see them unfavorably.  Twenty-three precent have no opinion on Romney's plans for health care, perhaps a reflection of the lack of specifics offered by the former Massachusetts governor.    

A clear majority of Americans think opponents of the Affordable Care Act should not try to block the law's implementation, a new poll shows.  

According to the latest survey from Kaiser Family Foundation, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, 56 percent believe that detractors to the law widely known as "Obamacare" should move on to tackle the nation's other problems, compared with only 38 percent who believe they should continue their efforts to block the law from being implemented. 

Forty-seven percent of respondents in Kaiser's poll approve of the Supreme Court's ruling last week to uphold the health care law, while 43 percent disapprove.  A comparable divide in public opinion appeared in a Monday poll from CNN, which showed that 50 percent of Americans agree with the high court's ruling and 49 percent disagree.