CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 19, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING: A senior administration official tells CNN there are “no plans” for the president to mark the two year anniversary of health care reform. White House spokesman Jay Carney had been vague on the issue during his daily briefing. “I have no announcements to make about the president’s schedule in that regard,” Carney told reporters.
At this point four years ago, Sen. John McCain was taking a breather after effectively winning the GOP presidential primary and waiting to see who would be his opponent in the fall.
Meanwhile, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were slugging it out on the campaign trail, prolonging the Democratic primary and causing concern within the party that this intraparty feud would hurt the party’s chance of winning back the White House in November.
But it turns out the primary helped Obama: He remained in the headlines and his campaign never stopped. In contrast, McCain all but disappeared for a few months after he locked up the GOP nomination in early March and the Arizona senator took a back seat to Clinton and Obama as the nation focused on the Democratic battle.
Conventional wisdom would make you think the candidates seeking the GOP nomination this year would hold an advantage much in the same way Democrats did in 2008. Except no one thinks this is true. Obama owns the spotlight by virtue of the White House bully pulpit and there is a different taste to this campaign. It is bitter. Much more bitter than the Democratic contest four years ago. In fact, McCain himself said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that the 2012 GOP nominating contest is "the nastiest I've ever seen." (LINK)
While there was no love lost between Clinton and Obama, the animosity primarily existed between the staff, not the principals. (Clinton, after all, did agree to serve in Obama’s Cabinet, albeit one of the most important positions, but humbling no less). In the battle for the GOP nomination, these candidates don’t really like each other and it shows at campaign events and in interviews with the media.
The division within the party – establishment versus the grass-roots – is helping to fuel the acrimony and the narrative of this race. While the GOP establishment wants to see this primary come to a quick end so Mitt Romney can turn his focus on the general election, the conservative base, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are hoping it goes on.
To deny Romney the 1,144 delegates he needs for the GOP nomination before the Republican National Convention meets in August provides an opening for Santorum or Gingrich to try to win it on the floor.
As of Monday, all four GOP candidates – Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul – still have a shot mathematically at securing the nomination before Tampa. The best odds lie with Romney. But even the former Massachusetts governor must perform exceptionally well in the remaining contests to walk into Tampa with the nomination in hand.
CNN estimates there are 1,290 delegates up for grabs. All the remaining states will divide these delegates proportionally with the exception of the District of Columbia, Delaware, New Jersey and Utah. These states would seem to favor Romney.
Our colleague, Adam Levy, has just posted a story (LINK) on the latest fight for delegates and the inside political strategies on how the campaigns hope to win the nomination. Here are some of the gems from his report:
· If Romney were to win every delegate beginning Tuesday in Illinois, he would clinch the nomination on Mary 15 when Nebraska and Oregon hold their primaries.
So, who needs what to win the nomination? Well …
· Romney needs 625 delegates or 49% of the delegates remaining to win the nomination.
· Santorum needs 905 delegates or 70% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination.
· Gingrich needs 1,006 delegates or 78% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination.
· Paul needs 1,075 delegates or 83% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination.
The fact is this really is a fight for delegates even though Santorum and others may say otherwise. But the bigger question might be what happens once there is a nominee? Will the eventual GOP nominee be too wounded to mount a strong enough campaign to challenge Obama in November?
As one well-known Republican strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to express his concern freely, said, “The difference between 2008 and now is that it was Hillary and Obama and in the end Democrats knew they would have a strong candidate. We don’t have that.”
Which “celebrity” has launched a political blog with a simple request: Call me, Mr. President?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: Why shouldn't a president be a good politician?
The problem is that doing well in Washington requires a very different kind of skill set than the ones that business executives or mavericks bring to the table. Each of these claims is flawed - as Obama himself discovered - given the world in which presidents must operate.
Leading Drudge: Santorum endorses Romney! [1,504 days ago]
In 2008, Rick Santorum said that if you wanted a conservative as the nominee of the Republican Party, "you must vote for Mitt Romney."
Leading HuffPo: Rick Santorum: 'The Issue In This Race Is Not The Economy'
Rick Santorum's presidential campaign has been beset by the impression that he talks too much about things that are not central to the concerns of most voters, such as contraception, President Barack Obama's theology, and most recently, pornography.
Leading Politico: Republican foreign policy message: TBD
Amid a wave of instability across the globe from Syria to North Korea, prominent Republicans are starting to prepare for an unexpected possibility: a 2012 presidential race fought over more than the economy.
Leading New York Times: Drifting Right, Illinois Is Test for Romney
Illinois has been known for choosing Republicans of a moderate brand, in the mold of James R. Thompson, the state’s longest serving governor, or Mark Steven Kirk, the United States senator elected in 2010. So for Mitt Romney, who has had to defend himself against the moderate label elsewhere, a primary here — with its large prize of delegates and the symbolism of President Obama’s backyard — would seem a welcome, natural fit.
The political bites of the day
- Romney has abandoned freedom, says Santorum -
RICK SANTORUM AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN DIXON, ILLINOIS: “Let’s just be brutally honest about it. There is one candidate in this race who can never make this race about freedom because he simply abandoned freedom when he was governor of Massachusetts and he abandoned it when he promoted Obamacare in 2009.”
- Romney repeats the word “freedom” -
MITT ROMNEY IN A SPEECH TITLED “THE FREEDOM TO DREAM” AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: “One feature of our culture that propels the American economy stands out: freedom. The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality.”
- Can Romney seal the deal? No, says Santorum -
RICK SANTORUM DURING A WLS RADIO INTERVIEW: “As the race goes on it shows that he (Gingrich) certainly has just taken the conservative vote and divided it. And by and large, Gov. Romney can’t get above 35% of the vote anywhere. That shows you he hasn’t been able to close the deal in spite of enormous money advantages as you see on TV here in Illinois, and the robocalls and all the other establishment media being in his corner – he can’t seal the deal.”
- Romney: The economy is coming back -
MITT ROMNEY AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS: “I believe the economy is coming back by the way. We’ll see what happens. It has had ups and downs. I think it is finally coming back. The economy always comes back after a recession, of course. There has never been one that we didn’t recover from. The problem is this one has been deeper than it needed to be and a slower recovery than it should have been by virtue of the policies of this president.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod)
With a 7-to-1 spending edge, hard to see Mitt not rolling in IL tomorrow. You can't turn on the TV without seeing 2 or 3 neg ads on Santo.
West Wing Report (@WestWingReport)
Reagan & Obama understood (or understand, rather) that a teleprompter allows more eye contact with the audience – a very big plus
Ram Ramgopal (@RamCNN)
Obama signs Presidential Proclamation on "National Day of Honor" to mark start of Iraq war 8 years ago today
TIME Politics (@TIMEPolitics)
McCain tells Peter Alexander on @msnbctv: "Every day that goes by with these attacks on each other is a day that President Obama wins."
National Archives (@archivesnews)
“As usual, the women do most of the work.” http://ow.ly/9JOOh #farmers #1940census #genealogy #nativeamericans
Chris Cillizza (@thefix)
Why I love Mark Salter. http://politi.co/FRwkls
Bristol Palin has thrown her hat back into the political arena by asking President Obama a provocative question: Since the thought of your daughters under attack moved you to call Sandra Fluke in the wake of Rush Limbaugh’s vitriol, why don’t you call Palin, since Bill Maher, a big Democratic donor, said equally insulting things about her? Like her mother, Bristol has gotten people talking. More than 13,000 people have shared her post – recommending that others read it – even though it was posted just Sunday. Many more have read it and commented on it. She, also like her mother, has a way with words, using the president’s biography as a compliment before she makes her jab, “I’ve always felt you understood my plight more than most because your mom was a teenager. That’s why you stood up for me when you were campaigning against Sen. McCain and my mom — you said vicious attacks on me should be off limits. Yet I wonder if the presidency has changed you. Now that you’re in office, it seems you’re only willing to defend certain women. You’re only willing to take a moral stand when you know your liberal supporters will stand behind you.” LINK
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