ATTENTION POLITICAL JUNKIES: This week we are debuting 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. With Super Tuesday behind us, onward to Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi and beyond.
CNN’s GUT CHECK | for Wednesday, March 7, 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: Analysis: In key Romney win, some warning signs remain
Leading Drudge: Ron Paul: 0-for-23
Leading HuffPo: Chellie Pingree Announces She Will Not Run For Retiring Senator Olympia Snowe's Seat
Leading Politico: Mitt fights back with math
Leading New York Times: For an Upbeat Romney, the Bottom Line Is the Numbers
Leading Leavenworth (Kansas) Times: Organizers prepare for Republican caucus
Which politician branded himself “America’s most courageous congressman”?
True to our personalities, we are going to look at the positive and negative for Mitt Romney as he rubs his eyes after a late night and stares ahead at the states remaining on the Republican nominating calendar.
The positive for Team Romney: Even in states Rick Santorum won Tuesday, Romney carries the mantle of the candidate “most likely to defeat Obama.”
Tennessee: Thirty-eight percent of voters selected “Can Defeat Obama” as the most important candidate attribute, and those voters chose Romney over Santorum 40% to 25%.
Oklahoma: Forty-one percent of voters selected “Can Defeat Obama” as the most important candidate attribute, and those voters chose Romney over Santorum 45% to 18%.
The negative for Team Romney: It is becoming increasingly difficult for him to mathematically clinch the nomination. Romney political director Rich Beeson e-mailed a memo Wednesday morning arguing that “only four of the remaining 34 contests award their delegates on a statewide winner-take-all basis. The four statewide winner-take-all states (Utah, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Delaware) are unlikely to offer Senator Santorum or Speaker Gingrich victories.” Yet Beeson doesn’t point out the difficulty that Romney will face even if he sweeps these winner-take-all states. See for yourself: Go to the CNN GOP Delegate Calculator and try “running the board” for Romney. It is tough. And it brings back the possibility of a scenario reminiscent of the Democratic delegate fight of 2008: i.e., the roughly 117 unpledged RNC delegates could be key to this contest.
CNN’s LATEST DELEGATE ESTIMATE
Romney: 429 (Pledged: 406, Unpledged RNC delegates: 23)
Santorum: 169 (Pledged: 168, Unpledged RNC delegates: 1)
Gingrich: 118 (Pledged: 114, Unpledged RNC delegates: 4)
Paul: 67 (Pledged: 67, Unpledged RNC delegates: 0)
The political bites of the day
– Washington outsider –
GINGRICH TRYING TO DIFFERENTIATE HIMSELF FROM RICK SANTORUM IN MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA. “And I would say with all respect to my friend from Pennsylvania, Sen. Santorum, there is a big difference between being a good team member and changing the game. I'm not going to Washington to be a good team member. I'm going to Washington to change Washington.”
– Obama knocks Gingrich’s gas pledge –
PRESIDENT OBAMA AT THE DAIMLER TRUCK PLANT IN MOUNT HOLLY, NORTH CAROLINA. “The next time you hear some politician trotting out some three point plan for $2 gas, you let him know we know better. Tell them we are tired of hearing phony election year promises that never come about.”
– Syria –
ON CAPITOL HILL, MCCAIN ASKS PANETTA: HOW MANY MORE HAVE TO DIE? “Can you tell us how much longer the killing would have to continue, how many additional civilian lives would have to be lost in order to convince you that the military measures of this kind that we are proposing necessary to end the killing and forced to leave power? How many more have to die? Ten thousand more? Twenty thousand more? How many more?”
DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA IN RESPONSE: “I think the question as you stated yourself, senator, is the effort to try to build an international consensus as to what action we do take – that makes the most sense. What doesn’t make sense it is to take unilateral action at this point. As secretary of defense, before I recommend that we put our sons and daughters in uniform in harm’s way, I have got to make very sure that we know what the mission is. I’ve got to make very sure we know whether we can achieve that mission, at what price and whether it will make matters better or worse.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Herman Cain | @THEHermanCain
Folks, only 1/3 of the delegates have been allotted! It's too soon to call on a candidate to withdraw from the race! #tcot
Eric Fehrnstrom | @EricFehrn
Is Obama having trouble connecting? In Oklahoma Dem primary, Obama only got 57% of vote, 43% voted for someone else.
Steve Deace | @SteveDeaceShow
What is happening with Romney and non-Mormon middle class voters in this primary is catastrophic in a general election.
Davidfrum | @davidfrum
This year GOP not in a pragmatic mood. So Romney has to reposition himself to look like the guy they want.
Ezra Klein | @ezraklein
For three guys who profess to dislike the media, Romney, Santorum and Gingrich are really making all our dreams come true.
None other than Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) branded himself as “America’s most courageous congressman.” Indeed, the eight-term House member made sure to go down swinging in defeat after his loss last night in Ohio: “Now I would like to be able to congratulate Congressman Kaptur, but I do have to say that she ran a campaign in the Cleveland media market that was utterly lacking in integrity with false statements, half truths, misrepresentations. I hope that is not the kind of representation she would provide to this community and I don’t think the people of Toledo have any idea of the kind of campaign that was run in the Cleveland area. My own integrity requires me to say this that it’s not alright but moving forward. Many of you in this room have known me for years and you know that I’ve lost campaigns before and there’s always a tomorrow. Don’t cry any tears for me. I am concerned about our community and the kind of representation it will receive.”
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Tips or comments? Send them to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood.