CNN's GUT CHECK | for Thursday, March 15, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: Democratic pressure on the President from ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHARIMAN SEN. CARL LEVIN, D-Michigan, ON “JOHN KING, USA” TONIGHT: “I hope the president sticks with what he said some months ago, that the reductions will continue at a steady pace after this summer and that he will not feel that he should stop the reductions as some of our key uniform military would have him do at the end of this summer.” (Full interview at 6 p.m. ET on CNN).
It’s time for a Gut Check on the search for the next president of the World Bank. President Obama’s deadline is one week away, and his decision may tip his hand on the shape of what a possible second term Obama administration may look like.
The search has been filled with so much political intrigue and delay that it has generated its own blog. The term of the current president, Robert Zoellick, ends in June, but the Obama administration must meet a March 23 deadline to name his successor.
World Bank employees have been grumbling privately that the delay in signaling a clear choice would encourage other countries to rally behind their own external candidate. (Just imagine the political fallout for Obama if the United States were to “lose” the World Bank.) Many in the international community relished the idea of the symbolic power of having a choice come from one of the emerging BRIC economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China. The administration issued a declaration this week to calm such fears, saying a choice would a.) come soon and b.) be an American.
The original speculation centered on two strong candidates, Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. Kerry and Rice have also been mentioned as possible successors to Secretary Hillary Clinton at the State Department.
The two whisper campaigns became so fervent (about who was holding out for the State job) that Kerry’s office finally issued a statement taking him out of the mix for the World Bank job: "Sen. Kerry hasn't been contacted by the administration about the World Bank vacancy," Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth told Reuters on March 7. "While he has great respect for the institution and its role in the world, he's not interested in the position."
We enlisted our colleague, foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott, in helping us make calls to determine the state of the race: Larry Summers’ name was floated and then dismissed. Same with Jeffrey Sachs, who campaigned publicly for the job – so publicly that he in fact published his cover letter in the Washington Post). (Our favorite tidbit in researching Sachs’ candidacy is the number of times he is referred to as a “celebrity economist.”)
With the race becoming so public, the fretting by bank employees escalated, many worried about the bank’s future (and its funding). Clinton’s name was floated (again) and shot down (again). Then, a new faction of strong, influential aid activists started coalescing around an outsider who would bring some of the symbolism of emerging markets: Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi. Nooyi, a female Indian immigrant, is considered a business trailblazer who is concerned with global health. Adding to that rumor mill was the speculation over Pepsi’s newly announced succession plans and some market grumbling over missed sales numbers, pointing to a good time to exit.
Adding to the intrigue, Rice made a trip from New York to Washington this week. Her supporters stress that this visit was for the British state dinner last night. But asked if she is interested in the World Bank job, her aides demurred. Which of course, only further adds to the intrigue.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: Anti-Mormonism bites Romney in South
The polls and the campaign dialogue aren't much help in assessing the Mormon factor in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries. The distinct feeling on the ground was that it had an impact, leading many evangelical Christians to reject pragmatic arguments to ignore Mitt Romney's Mormonism because of his presumed electability.
Leading Drudge: Obama: GOP “Flat Earth Society”
President Barack Obama took the bully pulpit on Thursday as he assailed Republicans for suggesting they can cut gas prices even as he can’t, and for dismissing the development of alternative sources of energy.
Leading HuffPo: Marital Problems, Obama vs. Gay Rights Advocates On DNC Platform
An unexpected surge in support to place same-sex marriage on the Democratic Party platform at the August convention has energized LGBT advocates and complicated an already delicate situation facing President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
Leading Politico: How Scott Brown got his mojo back
A string of recent polling, an agreement to bar outside money from the race and some savvy legislative moves have put Democrats on notice that ousting the first-term Massachusetts Republican will be anything but easy, even with a first-class challenger.
Leading New York Times: In Toledo, Biden Makes a Working-Class Appeal
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Obama administration’s go-to emissary to the Rust Belt, waded into his political sweet zone on Thursday, touting the White House’s economic record to a raucous gathering at the United Auto Workers Local 12 hall.
Who asked this loaded question Thursday on the trail, “If you can’t stand up to Rush, how are you gonna stand up to Russia?”
The political bites of the day
- Campaign Joe -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A UNITED AUTO WORKERS SPEECH IN TOLEDO, OHIO: “Gingrich and Romney and Santorum, they don't let facts get in their way. Nobody knows better than you and your families the real price you paid to allow this reorganization to take place. Plant closures, wage freezes, lower wages; they know, everybody knows these companies would not be in existence today without the sacrifices all of you in the UAW make.”
- But the White House says it’s focusing on policy–
JAY CARNEY AT THURSDAY’S WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “The president is still spending the vast preponderance of his time on his official duties as is everyone who works here. There is a campaign, of course, and it is active in doing the things that it does in preparation for the time when there is a general election nominee for the other party and there is a debate to be had more directly.”
- Candidate “cheerful” elaborates -
NEWT GINGRICH IN BARRINGTON, ILLINOIS: “Because I am so intense and I am so issue-oriented I don't look like I am wandering around all day being cheerful. But the fact is I love life. I love getting up in the morning. I love seeing what the weather is going to be. I love animals. I love the process of interacting with people. I like learning. So I really am basically very cheerful. In my mind everything's cool. I am still here. And that's just a nice thing.”
- Don’t go breaking my heart -
FORMER ILLINOIS GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH AT THE DENVER AIRPORT:“That's a thought that breaks my heart. The thought that people out there might think that I broke their heart. But this is a process that still is ongoing, and you know, the decision went against me. That's what the law is, and I accept that. And now I have to bear some of the burdens. But I'm hopeful for the future.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Jim Acosta @JimAcostaCNN
Santorum stands by his comments that English be the official language of PR for the territory to become a state.
Gabriel Sherman @gabrielsherman
Romney pressing Fox strategy: about to sit down with Bill Hemmer. Did Megyn Kelly interview yesterday, appears on Hannity tonight
America’s most famous foul-mouthed politician used PG rhetoric (PG means politically guided in this case) in his key state of Illinois five days before the Republican primary. Chicago mayor and former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel waded into the Republican primary Thursday in Chicago: “I thought what Rush Limbaugh said was not only wrong. It was absolutely repulsive. That said, if you can’t stand up to Rush, how are you gonna stand up to Russia?”
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