CNN's GUT CHECK | for Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
POLITICAL DVR ALERT: Mitt Romney will be in “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer live at 5:35 p.m. ET
MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics
Language and alliances. Those are two moving pillars that fascinate us in the primary campaign. We have written about how Mitt Romney’s prior foe, Newt Gingrich, is his new ally in blunting Rick Santorum’s rise. An interesting pivot Tuesday is Gingrich himself - not through his campaign - openly embracing Santorum and Ron Paul as part of a “tag team” to take on Romney. Here he is from WZZK this morning: “With Rick and me together, we are really slowing him down, with some help, frankly, from Ron Paul. I think the country is sort of saying, the majority are saying not Romney. The biggest block is saying Romney, but it's not a big enough block to be the majority. We now are beginning to think he literally won't be able to get the delegates to get the nomination.”
The Romney campaign morning memo upped its tone in dissing these charges, aiming their fire squarely at Santorum’s campaign (and nearly ignoring their new friend, Mr. Gingrich): “Sen. Santorum has recently taken to arguing that he will lose a majority of states but somehow magically win at the convention. This is pure fantasy, or vanity, or both.”
Vain and fantastical? Or transparently political?
The results add pressure for Romney to have something to show for Tuesday – it’s not only about winning in the South, but also rallying a base in red states. In looking at his list of states won (LINK), Arizona is the only primary state Romney has won that was a red state in 2008.
The moment Romney loses the “most likely to defeat Obama” exit poll, his foundation crumbles. And the tag team of Gingrich, Santorum and Paul could chip away if they could point to John McCain’s map and say, “If we can’t match that, we are in trouble.”
Jim Acosta reports that Romney is not speaking after the results come in (he's holding a rally in Missouri, but it's expected to wrap up before the returns come in from Mississippi and Alabama). That puts pressure on a narrative of GOP cohesion and makes it unlikely a dramatic moment will come from a speech. Instead, the results themselves will need to speak loudly enough to start to pull the party together.
All this points to another exciting election night.
Our special coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET (Mark will be in the cube, and Michelle will be in the control room). Here is a guide created by CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon and Political Producer Adam Levy to help you understand the nuts and bolts of the Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii and American Samoa contests.
Total delegates at stake: 110
Polls: Most polls close at 8 p.m. ET except for parts of Chambers County, which close at 7 p.m. ET
Who can vote: Open primary. Any registered voter may participate in the Republican primary. Voters do not register by party
Delegates at stake: 47 (50 total delegates; 47 at stake in primary)
Delegate allocation rule: Proportional
On the ballot: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry
Polls: Polls close at 8 p.m. ET
Delegates at stake: 37 (40 total delegates; 37 at stake in primary)
On the ballot: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Rick Perry and write-in
Results: Final results may be available at 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday but possibly as late as 6 a.m. ET or later. Certification will occur on Thursday.
Caucus hours: 12 a.m. ET Tuesday to 2 a.m. ET Wednesday
Who can vote: Open caucuses. Any registered voter may participate in the Republican caucuses (voters do not register by party), but caucus-goers may be asked to “affiliate” with the Republican Party at the caucus site.
Delegates at stake: 17 (20 total delegates; 17 at stake in the caucuses)
Delegate allocation rule: Proportional
Who’s on the ballot: Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and write-in
American Samoa Caucuses
Results: No results expected before 2 a.m. ET Wednesday
Caucus hours: 11 p.m. ET Tuesday to 2 a.m. ET Wednesday
Delegates at stake: 9 (9 total delegates; all at stake through the caucuses)
Delegate allocation rule: Direct election of individual delegates
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: Candidates play expectation game in Mississippi, Alabama primaries
The GOP presidential candidates' campaigns were downplaying expectations as Alabama and Mississippi voted Tuesday.
Leading Drudge: Afghans Burn Obama Effigy
President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he viewed the killing of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by a U.S. soldier, as seriously as if those killed had been Americans.
Leading HuffPo: Dems Divided: Inside The Foreclosure Settlement That Was ‘Like The Battle of Verdun’Top law enforcement officers from most of the 50 states gathered last week in Washington for the annual spring meeting of state attorneys general, where the hot topic was the $25 billion foreclosure settlement finally filed in federal court on Monday.
Leading Politico: How much do voters know?Voters are appalled at President Barack Obama’s handling of gas prices, even though almost every policy expert in both parties says there’s little a president can do to affect the day-to-day price of fuel in a global market.
Leading New York Times: Obama Allies Fear GOP Head Start on ‘Super PACs’The warning came from David Plouffe, President Obama’s top political adviser: The Koch brothers and Republican super PACs have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat Obama, he told a dozen wealthy Democrats gathered in a Silicon Valley office suite. Do not believe what you read about all the money the president will raise himself, Plouffe urged them. He needs your help.
Leading Samoa News: AmSam targeted in Romney’s quest for delegatesWith the local Republican caucus set for Tuesday, American Samoa was the focus of political pundits over the weekend. Signaling the national interest, an article called “Why Romney will Dominate the American Samoa Caucuses,” flashed online from the BuzzFeed.com website.
What popular male name is defined by Merriam-Webster as “often disparaging” and why does it (once again) keep coming up in trail coverage?
The political bites of the day
- Obama Heartbroken -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN THE ROSE GARDEN: “What I have made to President Karzai when I spoke to him is that the United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens and our own children who were murdered. We are heartbroken at the loss of innocent life. The killing of innocent civilians is outrageous and it is unacceptable. It is not who we are as a country and it does not represent our military.”
- A changed man -
NEWT GINGRICH SPEAKING ON ALABAMA RADIO STATION WZZK: “First of all, I'm a person who believes that you have to go to God in prayer, and that you have to seek God's guidance every day. It's an everyday thing; it's not a Sunday thing. Second, I have had moments in my life when I've fallen short and I've had to ask God's forgiveness and seek reconciliation. Now I'm 68, I'm a grandfather - Maggie's 12 and Robert's 10 – gives you a different perspective on life, a different way of thinking about life. And certainly, what I hope is that people will measure who I am, not who I was 25 years ago.”
- Gingrich needs to perform well in Alabama and Mississippi to stay in -
ALABAMA REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN BILL ARMISTEAD APPEARING ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT:” “Of course, he's our next-door neighbor, and we've seen a lot of them over the past and while he did take a backseat for a while, he has stumped extensively here in Alabama. You would think he was running for governor here in Alabama, because of his campaigning, going in to restaurants, going to church on Sunday. He is showing up everywhere. So this is a place he's got to do well. In fact, he's got to do extremely well in Alabama and Mississippi just to stay in the race.”
- Santorum rebuts Bill Maher, who last Friday called Santorum’s house a “Christian madrassa” -
SANTORUM ON FOX’s “HANNITY” LAST NIGHT: “These folks on the left, whether it's Maher or Letterman or you name it, they're out there trashing anybody who stands up for Christian conservative values, anybody who dares to actually teach their children faith in their home. All of a sudden, if you're instilling faith and teaching them about God in your home, you're a madrassa, according to these folks, and as if reason doesn't take place in the home. Our - our children will out-reason him - my 12-year-old will out-reason Bill Maher when it comes to understanding, you know, what - you know, how the logic works because he is completely illogical.”
- Clinton warns of election-year gridlock -
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON SPEAKING IN WASHINGTON TO THE GLOBAL CHIEFS OF MISSION CONFERENCE FOR U.S. AMBASSADORS. “As I have traveled in so many countries over the last five or six months, a number of you have told me your time will be up in the spring or the summer. But we don’t know if we will get people confirmed in the current political climate. We don’t know who will or won’t get confirmed in some last-minute deal that might be worked out before the Congress basically goes out before elections. So we very much encourage you, insofar as possible, to stay. We need you. We look to you and there is no country in the world that can do without you.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Sandra Fluke @SandraFluke
Pls read and RT my CNN.com op-ed bit.ly/AdTdv0 which clears up big myths on the ACA contraception policy
GovernorBentley @Gov.Robert Bentley
I view Rick Santorum as the most conservative candidate in the Republican presidential primary. I have chosen not... http://fb.me/THJ3ebz3
Erick Erickson @EWErickson
Cumulus Broadcasting is going to put up Mike Huckabee as a 12-3pm alternative to Rush Limbaugh in nat'l syndication.
Susan Page @SusanPage
Obama re-election bid in brief, by Biden: "Osama bin Laden is dead. General Motors is alive." (At fundraiser at John Kerry's house Tuesday)
Stephen Colbert @StephenAtHome
Romneywon Guam and the Marianas Islands. He's been prepping for years by sending his money to islands.
If you look up “Bubba” in the dictionary, it has an italicized disclaimer at the top, “often disparaging” and then proceeds to define the word as “a stereotypical nickname of Southern white males. First Known Use: 1979” (LINK). Yet the name keeps coming up on the campaign trail thanks to the popular syndicated radio show “Rick and Bubba,” which keeps landing interviews with the presidential aspirants in pursuit of Southern votes (LINK). But “Bubba” is not new to the wooing season nor the political lexicon.
Check out this profile of the 1992 race from John Dillin that we dug up on Lexis Nexis:
“Two Southern governors –Bill Clinton of Arkansas and L. Douglas Wilder of Virginia - now are among the leading candidates for their party's presidential nomination.
“Gov. Clinton, who entered the contest yesterday, has spearheaded efforts to move Democrats away from liberalism and back to the middle of the road. Governor Wilder is a fiscal conservative known for his budget-cutting. Political analysts say these two men, both moderates, could play an instrumental role next year by helping Democrats win back some of the middle-class Americans who have given up on the party since the 1960s.
“… Claibourne Darden Jr., an Atlanta pollster, calls these former Democratic voters "Bubba." Bubba is "right at the middle of the middle class," Mr. Darden explains. "He's a high-school graduate, blue collar or lower-white collar. He rides around in a pickup truck in the South with a gun in the back window. He's in construction, farming, factory, forestry, or he's an electrician, plumber, mechanic.
“Right now, Bubba loves George Bush. Clinton thinks he knows how Democrats can win Bubba back: first, by emphasizing work over give-away programs; second, by making sure that government programs help the middle class as much as the poor - through better schools, for example; third, by putting greater emphasis on values, particularly the value of personal responsibility.” (Published in the Christian Science Monitor, October 4, 1991).
Clinton’s rise in politics led to a rise in “Bubba” coverage, prompting this gem of a letter to the editor of The New York Times, from J. David Jorgenson of Tulsa, Oklahoma, on April 1, 1992:
“Although the definitive profile of Bubba awaits publication of ‘The Bubba Handbook,’ some things are clear. Bubba does not matriculate at Georgetown, Oxford and Yale. (Bubba matriculates at junior college or not at all.) Bubba does not marry a Yale law graduate from Chicago with a penchant for public remarks about teas and cookies. (Bubba marries someone who is seen but not heard.)”
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If Gingrich decides to quit tonight, would he be allowed to donate his delegate count to Rick Santorum? Perhaps the race might get really interesting...!