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

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows divided support on three of the most prominent achievements — and three of the most salient planks for his nascent re-election campaign — from President Barack Obama's first term.  

The poll asked respondents for their opinion of the U.S. auto industry bailout, stronger regulation of the nation's financial institutions and the economic stimulus program.

While all three issues drew comparable levels of support, the loans provided to the auto industry are the most popular, with 50 percent viewing them favorably compared to 43 percent who view the bailout unfavorably.  With regard to increased regulation of the financial industry, 49 percent have a favorable view while 44 percent have a negative view.  The economic stimulus — which Republicans have maligned as an unmitigated failure — is clearly the most polarizing, with 47 percent viewing it favorably and 48 percent unfavorably. 

Former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern offered praise of President Barack Obama's support for same-sex marriage. 

The liberal lion, who will turn 90 this summer, told a newspaper in his native South Dakota that he is also in favor of same-sex marriage on "conservative" grounds.

“I’m a ‘conservative’ when it comes to marriage," McGovern said.  "I think if two people love each other, are living together and having sex, they ought to get married." 

North Carolina voters may have just passed a change to the state's constitution that designates marriage between a man and a woman as the only legally recognized union, but gay rights advocates are already considering options to counter the newly minted law.

After Amendment One received overwhelming approval in Tuesday's statewide election, a spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect NC Families told TPM that the organization would now "look at all legal options and political options to overturn this amendment." A day later, Jeremy Kennedy, the campaign manager for the Coalition, clarified his group's official role going forward.

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Marriage between a man and a woman will now be the only legally recognized domestic union in North Carolina after voters Tuesday overwhelmingly passed Amendment One, a change to the state's constitution that could take effect as early as next week. North Carolina now becomes the 30th state to adopt a same-sex marriage ban.

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The latest survey from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling shows President Barack Obama holding a 10-point advantage over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in Iowa. 

In the statewide survey of Iowa voters, Obama claims the support of 51 percent, while Romney trails with 41 percent. Romney appears to be hamstrung by his personal appeal, a problem that has vexed him throughout the campaign. According to the PPP survey, only 34 percent of Iowa voters have a favorable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor, compared with 56 percent who view him unfavorably.  

The poll should give succor to the president's re-election hopes.  Obama's victory in the Iowa caucuses four years ago helped vault him to his party's nomination, and the Hawkeye State eventually handed him a comfortable win over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the 2008 general election.  But four years later, the state is thought to be less friendly to the president. The TPM Poll Average currently shows Obama with a comparable lead over Romney in Iowa.

In a column he penned for his influential website, conservative commentator Erick Erickson called on North Carolinians to support Amendment One, a proposed change to the state's constitution that would ensure legal recognition only for marriage between a man and a woman.  The measure will be voted on in a statewide election today.

Erickson, the editor-in-chief of RedState.com, urged North Carolina voters to help pass the amendment in order to prevent "liberal judges and gay rights activists" from changing the definition of marriage. 

"Over several thousand years, whether by edict from on high or through trial and error, humans settled on the two parent, heterosexual nuclear household as the most stabilizing force in society," Erickson writes.  "In the past few decades, many people have decided that several thousand years of human history can be ignored in favor of unproven claims of happiness, fairness, progress, and an expanded notion of equality."

Opponents to Amendment One have sought to predicate the campaign on everything but same-sex marriage, which is already illegal under current North Carolina law.  Instead, they argue, the amendment would jeopardize the legal status for domestic partnerships and civil unions involving both gay and straight couples alike.  Erickson's column reflects the approach taken by the pro-amendment contigent, which has emphasized concepts such as the sanctity of marriage and traditional values.  

Defining today's vote on Amendment One as a "Rosa Parks moment" for North Carolina, outgoing Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue urged her constituents to oppose the measure that would provide legal recognition only to marriage between a man and a woman.

Echoing the credo from the anti-amendment campaign, Perdue insisted that the proposed change to the state's constitution is less about same-sex marriage and more about civil rights during an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Tuesday morning.  Critics of Amendment One have highlighted its potential implications on civil unions and domestic partnerships involving both gay and straight couples alike.

"I want voters to understand that this constitutional amendment takes away a lot of civil rights," Perdue said.  "It's not about marriage.  We have a law on the books."

Polls show that Amendment One is a heavy favorite to pass.  Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina will also hold gubernatorial primaries today in the first electoral step to replace Perdue, who announced in January that she will not seek re-election.  

The latest survey from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that Amendment One, a proposed change to North Carolina's state constitution that would provide legal recognition only for marriage between a man and a woman, is poised to pass when voters head to the polls on Tuesday.  

In the latest poll of likely voters, 55 percent of respondents said they intend to vote for the measure, while 39 percent said they will vote no — virtually no change since PPP's survey from a week ago.  The latest release also underscores the most daunting challenge that opponents to the amendment have faced throughout the campaign: misinformation.  From PPP:

In some sense North Carolinians are voting against their own beliefs. 53% of voters in the state support either gay marriage or civil unions, yet a majority also support the amendment that would ban both. The reason for that disconnect is even with just 24 hours until election day only 46% of voters realize the proposal bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Those informed voters oppose the amendment by a 61-37 margin but there may not be enough time left to get the rest of the electorate up to speed.

In many respects, Missouri state Rep. Zach Wyatt (R) fits the profile of a typical Republican. He extols the virtues of low taxes and fiscal conservatism. He has cast votes to place restrictions on abortions, require voter identification and mandate drug testing for welfare recipients. He describes himself as a "big Mitt Romney supporter." But on Wednesday, Wyatt became the country's only openly gay Republican state lawmaker when he came out during a press conference in Jefferson City, Mo. The press conference was conducted by legislators from both parties and gay rights advocates to signal opposition to proposed legislation, widely known as the "don't say gay" bill, that would prohibit discussion of sexual orientation in public schools. Wyatt spoke to TPM on Thursday, a day after the announcement.

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A bill proposed by Republicans in the Missouri General Assembly that would prohibit the teaching of sexual orientation in public schools appears to be losing traction fast, but opponents aren't content to allow the legislation to fade quietly from the public consciousness.

Legislators from both parties and gay rights advocates held a press conference at the state capitol in Jefferson City Wednesday to call for the bill, known officially as HB 2051, to be immediately withdrawn from the legislative calendar. After being introduced last month by state Rep. Steve Cookson (R) and 19 Republican co-sponsors, HB 2051 was referred to the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education, where it has languished with little sign of advancing. But some opponents are concerned that until the bill is cleared from the docket, it could still advance through some clever legislative maneuvering.

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