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 email@example.com.
CNN’s GUT CHECK | for Thursday, March 8, 2012 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: The Senate narrowly rejected a Republican-sponsored measure Thursday that would have bypassed the Obama administration's current objections to the Keystone XL pipeline and allowed construction on the controversial project to move forward immediately. FULL STORY ON http://www.CNNPolitics.com
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: GOP spotlight turns to Mississippi, Alabama
Leading Drudge: DOJ Eyes Apple
Leading HuffPo: GOP vs. UTERI
Leading Politico:Members of Congress: This job sucks
Leading The New York Times:Democrats Warm to Obama as Campaign Ally
Leading Boston.com:Olympia Snowe brands Scott Brown independent voice as she endorses his reelection
Here’s one dirty little secret about life as a traveling political reporter: Many of the best news nuggets come from the hotel bar. You know, those moments after a long day of scripted events, when you get to see a little peek into the character behind the candidate or the campaign. What happened in the hotel bar in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday night to prove this adage true?
MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics
HIGH ALERT: BOTH PARTIES AGREE ON WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE TALKING ABOUT AND BE SCARED OF. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, spoke about a “new enemy” in the war on terrorism during a Senate floor speech Thursday morning, a comment not only causing us to pause but also reminding us of a similar warning from two Republican presidential candidates a few months ago.
Reid was expressing frustration about the slow progress of work in the Senate when he dropped in this bit of information about the war on terror.
“We had a demonstration here in our classified briefing room to talk about what’s going on in America and what could go on in America about bringing down our – bringing down our country,” Reid said. “The demonstration last night dealt with electricity, but it could be banking; it could be our hospitals. We have to recognize that we now have new enemies in the world. Not enemies that are flying airplanes and dropping bombs necessarily or shooting us with bullets, but they are prepared to do something that is so damaging to our economy, and we were given that illustration last night.”
CNN Senior Capitol Hill Producer Ted Barrett says there was a cybersecurity briefing Wednesday evening in the Capitol as lawmakers negotiate legislation to address this terror threat.
Reid’s warning took us back to the CNN/American Enterprise Institute/Heritage Foundation National Security Debate, when AEI Fellow Marc Thiessen (http://www.aei.org/scholar/marc-a-thiessen/) asked the GOP hopefuls this great question: “What national security issue do you worry about that nobody is asking about, either here or in any of the debates so far?”
Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich sounded an awful lot like Reid in their answers, or perhaps Reid sounds like them.
“Having been a ballistics analyst and a computer scientist early in my career, cyberattacks,” Cain said. “That's something that we do not talk enough about, and I happen to believe that that is a national security area that we do need to be concerned about.”
It should come as no surprise that Gingrich had not one but three answers at the November 22 debate (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1111/22/se.06.html).
“I helped create the Hart-Rudman Commission with President Clinton, and they came back after three years and said the greatest threat to the United States was the weapon of mass destruction in an American city, probably from a terrorist. That was before 9/11,” Gingrich said. “That's one of the three great threats.”
Gingrich added, “The second is an electromagnetic pulse attack, which would literally destroy the country's capacity to function. And the third, as Herman just said, is a cyberattack. All three of those are outside the current capacity of our system to deal with.”
Who says Democrats and Republicans don’t think alike? Even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called this issue his feared 3 a.m. wake-up call: (http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/02/the-3-a-m-call-panetta-fears-the-most/)
And yes, after reading this, go hug your kids and loved ones tonight.
The political bites of the day
– Romney calls Alabama primary an ‘away game’ –
MITT ROMNEY APPEARING ON BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, RADIO STATION WAPI: “I realize it is a bit of an away game, but I also think we are also going to pick up some support in the states that remain this month. We obviously had a terrific Super Tuesday and got a good head start. I would like to get some support from folks in Alabama, and Birmingham, of course, is a place where I have got some good ties. We have been there a number of times. Got good friends in the community, and I am hoping to get some real support from Alabama. I am confident we are going to get some delegates. That’s, of course, what this is all about, getting the delegates necessary to become the nominee. But getting a majority of the delegates, why, that would be icing on the cake.”
– Santorum hoping for a two-person race –
RICK SANTORUM APPEARING IN HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA: “I pledge to you this last comment. If you go out and work for us this Tuesday, if you go out and deliver a conservative victory for us on Tuesday, this race will become a two-person race – and when it becomes a two-person race for the Republican nomination, the conservative will win the nomination.”
– It IS the economy, stupid –
JOHN BOEHNER AT HIS WEEKLY CAPITOL HILL NEWS CONFERENCE. “One thing is clear: that this year's election is going to be a referendum on the president's economic policies. The president is trying to make this election about everything other than his economic policies, but the American people are concerned about our economy and concerned about jobs.”
– Hand me a wrench, I need to fix the Congressional plumbing –-
SAMUEL WURZELBACHER (JOE THE PLUMBER) ON CNN’S EARLY START: “For the last four years, I've gone around building houses, taking trees down, plumbing and speaking at different events around the country encouraging Americans to really get informed on who they're going to vote for and stop voting on 30-second sound bites and make sure their vote counts and then really exercise their civic responsibility as an American.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Steve Case @stevecase
Just spoke w/ @EricCantor & pleased to report House just passed #JOBSAct w/ broad bipartisan support (390-23). Entrepreneurs are grateful!
Dave Weigel @daveweigel
Guam, Virgin Islands, Alabama, Mississippi. And yet somehow this is the set of primaries I'm not traveling for. #fail
John DiStaso's Granite Status Pollster says push poll policy puts NH primary in danger: A top national pollster ... bit.ly/ya7Cy2
Lizzie O’Leary @lizzieohreally
Can we have news outside today?
At the hotel bar in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday night, Newt and Callista Gingrich hit the dance floor, laughing and dancing for over an hour. We liked Danny Yadron of the Wall Street Journal’s write up best: “There was The Beatles’ ‘All My Loving,’ ‘September,’ by Earth Wind & Fire, and, at one aide’s suggestion, Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man.’ (Mr. Gingrich has drawn cheers and mockery this election as he calls for an increased space exploration). ‘We had a long day, we did a lot of things,’ Mr. Gingrich said. ‘My first interview is at 6:30 in the morning… You’ve got to take a few minutes off.’ Sometimes the former lawmaker and his wife danced slowly, sometimes fast. At several points, they twirled. They stayed out until about 2 a.m.” Full Story: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/03/08/gingrich-takes-a-break/
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Tips or comments? Send them to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood.