ATTENTION POLITICAL JUNKIES: This week we are debuting CNN’s Gut Check, a daily newsletter 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.
CNN’s GUT CHECK | for March 6, 2012 | 5 p.m.
— n a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: Southwest Ohio, epicenter for GOP race
Leading Drudge: SUPER CHOOSEDAY
Leading HuffPo: FLY AWAY TAXES | Buffett Jet Company Spent Millions Lobbying Government For Tax Cuts
Leading Politico: Obama blasts GOP for 'casual' talk on Iran
Leading New York Times: Obama Tells G.O.P. Critics War With Iran Is ‘Not a Game’
Leading Cincinnati Enquirer: Why Santorum will be in Steubenville tonight
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Which media outlet was the first to have John King on its payroll? (Answer below)
What do GOP primary voters want?
Well, heading into Tuesday evening, we decided to take all of the primary exit polls conducted in this race for the GOP nomination – specifically the question to Republican voters about the most important factor in their decision – and came up with this nugget.
Republicans overwhelmingly want a candidate who ...
Can beat Obama: 41%
Is a true conservative: 14%
Has the right moral character: 19%
Has experience: 22%
The respondents who chose "best chance to beat Obama" as the top candidate quality voted: Mitt Romney, 56%; Newt Gingrich, 28%; Rick Santorum, 11%; Ron Paul, 3%.
Over the course of this GOP nomination fight, one thing we have noticed is how adept the Romney campaign is at creating split-screen moments between their candidate and President Obama in the same news cycle. It is just another attempt by Team Romney to reinforce the narrative as Romney being the inevitable nominee. Tuesday’s example: Romney is holding a rare press conference at 5:30 p.m. ET, just hours after Obama took questions from the White House press corps.
It is going to be a late night with lots of twists and turns, but if you think the race for the nomination will be wrapped up at the close of Super Tuesday, think again. Gingrich is looking past this evening, as are Santorum and Paul.
In fact, Gingrich left the Super Tuesday campaign trail on Tuesday afternoon to attend two events in Alabama, which is holding its primary next week. And the Gingrich campaign just announced that he will spend Friday in Kansas, overnight in the state and appear at two caucuses on Saturday. In a fight for delegates, Gingrich sees delegate gold on the horizon.
Still, there are 419 delegates on the table Tuesday night. The question is, what will the narrative be when America wakes up Wednesday morning? Romney, the inevitable nominee? Santorum, the conservative choice? Gingrich’s appeal to Southerners?
What will continue to be part of the conversation is: “Why are Republicans locked in this primary battle?” Just four years ago, John McCain had wrapped it up on Super Tuesday, and there is growing concern among some Republican gray-beards that this battle is more harmful than helpful to the eventual GOP nominee. So, why are we here? Check out this story from CNN’s Peter Hamby, who lays it all out.
The political bites of the day
THE PRESIDENT MEETS THE PRESS
Obama:“It's not a question of when Assad leaves or if Assad leaves; it's a question of when. He has lost legitimacy of his people. And the actions that he is now taking against his own people is inexcusable, and the world community has said so in a more or less unified voice. On the other hand, for us to take military action, unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake. … I think there is no doubt that those who are suggesting or proposing or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be. I am not one of those people, because what I've said is that we have a window through which we can resolve this issue peacefully. We have put forward an international framework that is applying unprecedented pressure. The Iranians just stated that they are willing to return to the negotiating table, and we have got the opportunity even as we maintain that pressure to see how it plays out.”
SANTORUM ON IRAN: TALK IS NOT ENOUGH
Rick Santorum to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee: “We need to do more than just talk. We need to set forth a clear ultimatum to the Iranian government. We need to say to the Iranian government, ‘the time is now. You will stop your nuclear production now. You will open up facilities to inspectors from the United States and other countries so we can certify that those efforts are stopping and being dismantled, now.’ ”
OBAMA ON HIS GIRLS, IN CONTEXT OF SANDRA FLUKE
Obama: “I'm not going to comment on either the economics or the politics of it. I don't know what's in Rush Limbaugh's heart, so I'm not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology. What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don't have any place in the public discourse. And, you know, the reason I called Miss Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do, as they get older, is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they're being good citizens.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Barack Obama | @BarackObama
President Obama: "I’m not one of those people who believe that we should just sit by and wait for the housing market to hit bottom."
National Review | @jimgeraghty
@SarahPalinUSA is retweeting me. #Winning. Righty street cred: RESTORED!
John King started his media career as a paper boy for the Boston Herald. John pounded the pavement in his native Dorchester in the rain, sleet and lots and lots of snow. Bonus points to anyone who knows the three names the Boston Herald has had (e-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org).
John reports that he loved the job, and tipping was good come Christmastime. Tonight, you can see you Dorchester’s favorite paper boy man the Magic Wall from CNN Election Center from 6 p.m. ET until “CNN After Dark.” One thing that you might not know is that John is completely unscripted as he does his Magic Wall hits – and, in fact, since he uses both hands to drive the wall, he doesn’t carry notes or a pen. This is why, in the long election nights of late, where we have been scoring raw numbers on live air from interviews at polling places, you might catch a glimpse of John – literally – writing on the wall.
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Tips or comments? Send them to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood.