ATTENTION POLITICAL JUNKIES: Today is the public debut of CNN’s Gut Check, written by CNN Political Director Mark Preston and CNN Executive Producer Michelle Jaconi. We hope you find it useful; send us feedback at email@example.com. Only a few hours until Super Tuesday …
CNN’s GUT CHECK | for March 5, 2012 | 5 p.m.
— n a pause to assess the state, progress, or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING … In the final CNN/ORC Super Tuesday Ohio poll, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are locked in a pitched battle for the state. A few interesting crosstabs explain why the race is so close: The Catholic vote, conservative vote and female vote all fall within the margin of error of the poll. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has a comfortable 23 point lead in Georgia. See full results here: CNNPolitics.com Political Ticker
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: CNN POLL: Catholic support for Romney crucial in Ohio
Leading Drudge: BARACK TO BIBI: I’ve got your back
Leading HuffPo: FUN FOR THE 1%: Top Earners Took In 93% Of Income Growth In 2010
Leading Politico: Obama's muddy transparency record
Leading New York Times: Obama Cites ‘Window’ for Diplomacy on Iran Bomb
Leading Columbus Dispatch: Santorum urges Ohioans to look ahead
How many women are on the press bus covering the Romney campaign? (Answer below)
In his closing pitch to Ohio voters Monday, Rick Santorum said it is not just the economy, stupid.
“This country is more than just the economy. There is a lot to this country, both having national security experience as well as understanding the importance of communities and families. And I am someone who has been out there and delivered that message against all the odds.”
Is he on to something? Ohio is the heart of the Rust Belt, but its unemployment rate, 7.9% (according the most recent state data), is just below the national average due in part to spurts of economic growth in certain areas of the state. While Romney highlights his business experience, Santorum is trying to send a message to social conservatives that he will fight their battles and hawkish Republicans that he is more prepared for the role of commander-in-chief.
Ohio’s diverse economy and electorate defies a single narrative or campaign pitch, which explains why we have our eye on this state tomorrow. As our poll shows, Romney and Santorum are locked in a dead heat.
The political bites of the day
– Foreign Policy rears its head again -
MCCAIN CALLS FOR AIR STRIKES IN SYRIA
John McCAIN, on the Senate floor: “The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces. To be clear: This will require the United States to suppress enemy air defenses in at least part of the country. The ultimate goal of airstrikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad. These safe havens could serve as platforms for the delivery of humanitarian and military assistance – including weapons and ammunition, body armor and other personal protective equipment, tactical intelligence, secure communications equipment, food and water, and medical supplies.”
After his Speech CNN Senior Congressional Producer Ted Barrett caught up with Senator McCain:
Q - You are talking about U.S. pilots flying over Syria….
Q - shooting at air defense systems?
MCCAIN: -“I think we’d have to take out air defense systems. We’re the only ones who can do that. The war in Libya, we should have learned something from Libya. It would have been over a lot earlier and thousands of casualties could have been prevented if the United States used the full weight of its air power. Instead we decided to lead from behind, the conflict was extended unnecessarily, and thousands of Libyans were killed or wounded because of that. Because of America’s failure to lead.”
– Reaching out on Obamacare -
ROMNEY TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL ME?
ROMNEY: “I am happy to say `Mr. President all the people in my state are insured. I did that without raising taxes. I did that without cutting Medicare by 500-billion dollars. I did that with Republicans and Democrats working together. My legislature passed our provision – we have 200 legislators – only two voted no. The plan we put in place was right for us. How come you forced through your plan without a single Republican vote? How come you didn’t listen to the fact that the people of Massachusetts voted for Scott Brown to stop Obamacare? How come Mr. President you imposed this on the American people when we didn’t want it? This is something which is counter to the process which has been followed for years and years in terms of passing legislation. And Mr. President one more thing – why didn’t you call me when you were working on this thing? Why didn’t you pick up the phone and say – ‘Is what you are doing in Massachusetts a good model for the nation?’ and I’d have said – ‘No, no. What you are doing is wrong. It’s going to make a mess.’”
– Describing the candidate -
CANTOR WON’T ANSWER IF ROMNEY IS A TRUE CONSERVATIVE
On CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien, Rep. Eric Cantor chooses to stick to the economy …
O’BRIEN: Let me just - forgive me - but interrupt you for a minute. As you know last week a lot of conversation was, you know, who is the true conservative? Does this mean that you've answered this question and the true conservative in your mind is Mitt Romney?
CANTOR: Soledad, what I believe is this election is about how we're going to make our country have a much brighter economic future so we can continue to lead and let America be America. I mean, this is the issue here. I think what the American people are looking for are more certainty as far as their economic future is concerned and right now we know that there's just not enough job creation going on. Watch here: http://on.cnn.com/yyaz4Y
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Ryan Lizza | @RyanLizza
At CNN debate in AZ Romney called 4 arming Syrian rebels. Ystrdy: "I'm not looking for direct military intervention in Syria at this stage."
Peter Hamby | @PeterHambyCNN
among the examples of American exceptionalism cited by Santorum: we defeated the pirates.
Neil King, WSJ | @NKingofDC
Here's an amazing stat: In Oct 09, our poll found 32% of blacks supported gay marriage. 50% do now, higher than the country as a whole.
From our air
John King USA, 6 p.m. (@JohnKingCNN):
Santorum adviser John Brabender parses the polls.
Anderson Cooper 8 p.m. (@andersoncooper):
David Axelrod gives his preview of Super Tuesday
Piers Morgan 9 p.m. (@pierstonight):
Michele Bachmann has a candid interview with Piers – in which she says “The process is very good. It is – it literally just beats snot out of you….”
MOVE OVER BOYS ON THE BUS... the women on Romney's campaign bus out-number the men, 13 to 12. One of those top political female journalists is CNN's own Rachel Streitfeld who moved to New Hampshire on August 2nd and has been on the trail ever since. Rachel told us this morning that the total of 25 journalists on the bus is a bump up from the normal ebb and flow of reporters on the trail, as a half dozen new journalists joined the campaign bus the day before Super Tuesday - many coming from regional outlets.
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