Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

The College Republicans National Committee released a blistering postmortem study of the 2012 presidential election on Monday that finds the Republican Party's brand "in need of significant repair" if the GOP wants to win back the youth vote in future elections.

The report, titled "Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation," is scathingly critical of the Republican party's stance on key issues such as gay rights, the economy, and Latino voters--issues where young people with the potential to vote Republican are likely to hold much more progressive positions than GOP candidates. 

The report suggests the party improve the communication and positioning of its policies to better reach the youth demographic.

"In focus groups, our respondents associated Republicans with being solely for the rich, lacking in diversity, and being oldfashioned," the report reads. "The Democratic Party was associated with the attributes of being tolerant and open-minded."

The CRNC report draws its data from two national surveys conducted in March of 800 registered voters each between ages 18-29. Read the findings in full here.

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President Obama highlighted elements of the Affordable Care Act that will help those with mental illnesses seek and obtain care in his opening remarks at the National Conference on Mental Health, held Monday at the White House.

"It’s not enough to help more Americans seek treatment, we also need to make sure treatment is there," he said. "Next year, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny anyone coverage because of a pre-existing mental health condition."

The administration will also launch, a website that features resources to teach the basics of mental health and how to talk about mental illness accompanied by videos featuring celebrities and everyday Americans whose lives have been affected by mental illness.

"Too many Americans who struggle with mental illness suffer in silence rather than seek help," Obama added. "We can help people who suffer from a mental illness continue to be the great colleagues and friends and parents we know."

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Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said on Sunday that women "don't want" equal pay laws.

In a panel on NBC's "Meet The Press" discussing new statistics showing women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in American families, David Axelrod asked Blackburn if she would support workplace gender equality legislation. The Tennessee representative responded by insinuating that such legislation would be condescending to a woman already qualified for a position on the basis of her skills alone.

"You know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job," Blackburn said. "And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want. They don’t want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves."

Blackburn has consistently opposed equal pay measures in the House. In 2009, she voted against both the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which resets the statue of limitations under the Civil Rights Act to file a lawsuit for equal pay, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have barred employers from exercising gender discrimination when determining employees' pay.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus countered Sen. Bob Dole's recent criticisms of the GOP on "Fox News Sunday," offering the asurance that the party is "open for repairs."

Last week Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee, appeared on the same program and argued that conservatives like Ronald Reagan or Richard Nixon "wouldn't have made it" in the GOP of 2013 because they "had ideas."

“I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors,” Dole said of the Republican Party, “that says closed for repairs until New Year’s Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas.”

Priebus highlighted the RNC's self-audit in the wake of the 2012 presidential election and pointed to the last two Republican presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), as "a good counter position to what Sen. Dole had to say."

"I would say we're not closed for repairs, but open for repairs," he said. "That's the Republican Party that needs to grow, that needs to win presidential elections, and needs to be a year-round permanent operation, which is what we're built on."

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After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) jumped into the Massachusetts Senate race on Friday to raise money for Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez, freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) countered with her own call for donations for Democratic candidate Rep. Ed Markey's (D-MA) campaign. 

McConnell sent an email via the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Friday pledging to match any donations three times up $32,000. 

Warren has been hitting the pavement for Markey's campaign in Boston as the race grinds toward the election on June 25, including an appearance with First Lady Michelle Obama last week. Over the weekend she used her clout to match McConnell's fundraising goal.

"Mitch McConnell said it himself: Gabriel Gomez will help right-wing Republicans and Tea Party radicals to stop President Obama's agenda," Warren wrote in a Friday email. "If Mitch McConnell can raise $32,000 for Gabriel Gomez today, why don’t we match it for our friend Ed Markey?"

A Warren aide told the Huffington Post that the email raised $65,000 for Markey's campaign. 

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Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) believes young people should assume responsibility for their student loans and support the GOP's student loan bill because, as he told MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown" on Friday, "personal responsibility is pretty cool."

Student loan interest rates are set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1. Two proposals, one put forth by House Republicans and another by President Barack Obama, both peg interest rates to the U.S. Treasury rate to avoid that increase. The proposals differ in the surcharges added to federally subsidized loans, however.

When "Daily Rundown" host Luke Russert asked Messer how he would reconcile the fact that Republicans are in favor of letting student loan rates rise up to 8.5 percent while it appears the president wants to keep rates between 3 and 4 percent, Messer said the GOP has a communication problem.

“Republicans have to do a better job of explaining how our ideas apply to young people," Messer said. "Sometimes it sounds like he is selling ice cream and we’re selling spinach. I think personal responsibility is pretty cool. There is nothing out of date about freedom, and we have the policies that get this budget back in line, stop the explosive growth of spending. Spending that will be paid for by this generation. We’ve got to do a better job of explaining that.”


[h/t Raw Story]

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stepped up to fundraise for Gabriel Gomez, the GOP candidate to replace Sen. John Kerry, on Friday as the campaign for the Massachusetts senate seat enters its final month.

McConnell sent an email via the National Republican Senatorial Committee to solicit donations on Gomez's behalf, pledging to match each donation three times up to $32,000.

"A Republican majority in the Senate begins with your support today," McConnell wrote in the email. "Securing a victory for Gabriel Gomez in the Massachusetts Senate special election on June 25th is crucial to taking back the Senate and removing Harry Reid from power."

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Conservatives are taking comments made by former President George W. Bush out of context to fan opposition to the current immigration reform bill, writes The Huffington Post's Jon Ward on Friday.

Ward attended Bush's third annual Warrior100K mountain bike ride in Crawford, Texas, where he writes that Bush had "a warning about the party's mad dash for immigration reform."

"The right reason is it's important to reform a broken system. I'm not sure a right reason is that in so doing we win votes," Bush told the Huffington Post. "I mean when you do the right thing, I think you win votes, as opposed to doing something that's the right thing to win votes. Maybe there's no difference there. It seems like there is to me, though." 

Ward noted how quickly media outlets and blogs on the right misconstrued Bush's comment, and clarified that the president does indeed support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants:

The Washington Examiner picked up on Bush's comments and wrote in their headline that Bush was "skeptical of current immigration push." The Drudge Report posted the Examiner story. And on Thursday evening, Breitbart News wrote a similar piece to the Examiner's, with the headline: "George W. Bush Skeptical of Senate's Immigration Bill." The Heritage Foundation, which has been a leading voice in opposition to the current legislation, tweeted out the Breitbart story.


Bush made clear in the interview at his Texas ranch, however, that he remains in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which is one of the thorniest issues in the reform push for some on the right, along with the border security component. Bush also said fixing the immigration system was the right thing to do because the current system is "inhumane."


"I mean we ought to be doing it. One, it's right. Two, because the system is broken," Bush said. "It's a system rife with corruption and the corruption being smugglers bringing individuals to do jobs Americans won't do. And it's, to me it's an inhumane system."

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A Maryland Republican group awarded a lifetime National Rifle Asscoiation membership to a boy who was suspended from school in March for chewing a Pop Tart into what his teacher thought was the shape of a gun.

The Anne Arundel County Republicans presented 8-year-old Josh Welch with the membership at a fundraiser on Thursday. Welch was suspended from Park Elementary School for two days because of the incident, and a lawyer has filed an appeal to remove the suspension from the boy's record.

In an interview with Fox News, Welch has said he was trying to "turn it into a mountain but, it didn't look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun [kind of]."

Republican state Sen. J.B. Jennings told the Baltimore Sun "This isn't about gun control. I'm just shaking my head that all of a sudden he's being used as poster boy in the gun debate."

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A Democratic congressman told The Boston Globe on Thursday that Russian intelligence officials believe the Boston Marathon bombings could have been avoided if U.S. authorities had acted on their warnings about Tamerlan Tsarnev's desire to join an Islamic insurgency. 

Rep. William Keating (D-MA) told the Globe that officials of the Russian Federal Security Service showed him specific information that had convinced them Tsarnev “had plans to join the insurgency back in” Dagestan, a region bordering his native Chechnya in Southern Russia.

“You can see with the level of these details that in fact if we had had better information sharing, there’s a very strong chance that things could have changed, and [the bombings] could have been avoided,” Keating told the Globe from Moscow.

Keating met with counterintelligence officials in Moscow as part of a congressional delegation addressing counterterrorism cooperation. 

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