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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

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is a strong favorite to win re-election over her little-known challenger, according to a new Field Poll.

The poll shows Feinstein claiming the support of 51 percent of likely voters, while Republican businesswoman Elizabeth Emken trails with only 32 percent support.  Emken is stymied by low name recognition: 65 percent of likely voters surveyed have no opinion of the GOP nominee.  

Meanwhile, Feinstein — who joined the Senate in 1992 — is viewed favorably by 52 percent of respondents. Forty-five percent of California voters approve of the job Feinstein is doing, compared with 32 percent who disapprove.  

Say what you want about Mitt Romney's strength as a candidate, but the presumptive Republican presidential nominee can clearly raise money with the best of them.  

Romney for President, Romney Victory and the Republican National Committee confirmed today an impressive fundraising total of $106.1 million in June.  The Romney campaign and the RNC together have roughly $160 million cash on hand.  

Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC, trumpeted June's windfall as a harbinger of things to come for Romney and the GOP in a Monday press release:

Our June fundraising is a sign that voters are fed up with President Obama’s failure to fix our economy and want a change of direction.  While President Obama thinks that the private sector is ‘doing fine,’ millions of Americans are struggling to find work, pay their bills and stay in their homes.

President Obama is clearly in over his head and Americans deserve better. Mitt Romney will fix our economy, repeal Obamacare, and get spending under control – that is why he is receiving such strong support from voters across the country.

 

 

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.  

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