CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 26, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: Wolf Blitzer’s hat trick on CNN’s the Situation Room:
Romney: “I am not going to worry too much about what Rick is saying these days. I know that when you fall further and further behind, you get a little more animated.”
Santorum: “You talk about desperate and pathetic, Mitt Romney can’t run on his record. He can’t run on the - here we have the whole world watching what’s going on here in Washington, these Supreme Court arguments, Mitt Romney’s 3,000 miles away.”
Gingrich: “If Romney can’t clinch it, I think it becomes pretty wide open.”
Who in the news today got his start not covering politics, but covering gridlock in the air traffic control system?
Rick Santorum took a detour off the campaign trail Monday and showed up at the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to draw attention to his opposition to the health care law. It was a strategic political move to try and stay in the headlines (and not for losing his cool) as his campaign seeks to push back against growing calls for the Republican presidential primary to come to a close. And let’s face it, there are no primaries this week, and the Court is addressing what Santorum thinks is Mitt Romney’s Achilles’ heel.
But what do the voters think about this issue heading into the general election? It is not necessarily great news for Republicans if you look at the trend line in the new CNN/ORC International Poll. While 50% of Americans disapprove of the health care law, it is for different reasons: 10% of them said that it is not liberal enough. Support for the health care law did tick slightly down over the past five months among Republicans and Democrats. But it increased by 9 points among independents. See below:
Approve of Health Care Law
Democrats 68% 71%
Independents 41% 32%
Republicans 10% 12%
Sampling error: +/-6% pts
And as we turn our attention to this week’s hearings, a majority of Americans are not inclined to see the high court “overturn all of the provisions,” the new CNN/ORC poll shows. Look specifically at the independents - the swing bloc of voters you will hear us talk incessantly about until November 6. A majority of Republicans, 58%, are dead set against the law. But 18% of independents say “keep the law as is.” Another 43% of independents say “overturn some provisions.” That shows us that 61% of independents see some value in the health care law.
Keep law as it stands: 23% (among Democrats, 38%; independents, 18%; Republicans, 9%)
Overturn some provisions: 43% (among Democrats, 51%; independents, 43%; Republicans, 32%)
Overturn all provisions: 30% (among Democrats, 6%; independents, 34%; Republicans, 58%)
Sampling error 3-6%
But it is important to note that health care is not an issue at the top of voters’ minds. Only 11% say it is the “most important issue facing the country today,” according to the CNN/ORC poll. The economy remains issue No. 1 with 53% citing it as the nation’s biggest challenge followed by the federal budget deficit at 20%.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: CNN poll: Majority call for arrest in Trayvon Martin shooting
One month after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, nearly three out of four Americans say the police should arrest the neighborhood watch volunteer who pulled the trigger, according to a new national survey.
Leading Drudge: 'AFTER MY ELECTION I HAVE MORE FLEXIBILITY'
At the tail end of his 90-minute meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Monday, President Barack Obama said that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense, but incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to give him “space.”
Leading HuffPo: Health Care Law Hits Supreme Court
The Supreme Court plunged into debate Monday on the fate of the Obama administration's overhaul of the nation's health care system, and the justices gave every indication they will not allow an obscure tax law to derail the case.
Leading Politico: First glimpses of Supreme Court's thinking on health law
As protesters chanted outside, the Supreme Court opened three days of hearings Monday on a landmark health care law by signaling that they believe they can decide the core issues in the case now, rather than waiting until after 2014.
Leading New York Times: Justices Hear Argument That Health Case Is Premature
The Supreme Court on Monday began three days of epic arguments over the 2010 health care overhaul law with a sort of appetizer - a 90-minute debate over whether the court yet has the authority to hear the case.
The political bites of the day
– Hot mic catches president being political –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAID THIS TO OUTGOING RUSSIAN PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it's important for him to give me space… This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
– Rhodes on clean-up duty –
DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER BEN RHODES SAID THIS DURING A WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING TODAY: “Well I wouldn’t comment on it in any specific exchange. I am certainly not familiar with that specific exchange. I was in the meeting and what I can say broadly on missile defense – the president has a clear view.”
– The Santorum swear heard ‘round-the-world –
RICK SANTORUM TOOK ISSUE WITH A QUESTION FROM NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER JEFF ZELENY: “What speech did you listen to? Stop lying. I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obamacare. And that is what I was talking about. I have said repeatedly, for every speech I give, I have said he is uniquely unqualified to run against Barack Obama on the issue of health care. Would you guys quit distorting what I am saying … Quit distorting my words. If I see it – it is bullsh**. Come on man, what are you doing?”
– Romney campaign pounces on temperament as an issue –
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SUROGATE JOHN H. SUNUNU SAID THIS ON A CAMPAIGN CONFERENCE CALL: “I can tell you one of the most important things you need in a president is self-control and discipline. It is one thing to lose your temper at a New York Times reporter, and it's another to have to deal with the pressures of folks on the international stage and even opposing congressional leaders. … Rick Santorum's outbursts in the last few days, in my opinion, disqualified him on that aspect. He has a tendency to speak before he thinks.”
– Move over Glenn Close, Herman Cain video shows Bunny being shot –
HERMAN CAIN LAUNCHES NEW VIRAL VIDEO ON YOU TUBE: “This is small business. [This=a bunny] This is small business under the current tax code” [Bunny thrown in the air and shot with a rifle. Seriously. Watch yourself: http://t.co/Cy3Jysn4 ] Any questions?”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Mitt Romney (@MittRomney)
Fill in the blank. @BarackObama: I’ll have more flexibility to _______ after the election. #ObamaFlexibility
Brendan Buck (@Brendan_Buck)
Hey State Department, I need some space until after the election on this Keystone thing. After my election I have more flexibility
Alex Burns (@aburnspolitico)
MEDVEDEV ISN'T WORKING RT @TonyFratto "I will transmit this information to Vladimir" is a pretty pathetic response from Medvedev
Lindsey Boerme (@Lindsey_CBSNJ)
Santorum tells David Brody he'd be open to being Romney's VP: http://t.co/aApL3uaV
The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny not only broke out covering traffic in the sky – he won a Pulitzer doing so. Zeleny joined the Chicago Tribune in 2000 and was a member of the reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism for their work in “documenting gridlock in the nation’s air traffic system.” Zeleny, now best-known as a well-respected campaign reporter at The New York Times, has the dubious distinction of creating his own news cycle twice in the Past seven weeks. In today’s “trail moments,” you can read the heated exchange in which Rick Santorum tells Zeleny that his question “is bullsh**” – but we at Gut Check prefer his previous exchange with another testy candidate, Newt Gingrich. After the Nevada caucuses, Zeleny asked Gingrich about Gingrich’s staff having advised the former speaker to get rest so the candidate could get Mitt Romney’s attacks “out of his head.” Zeleny, in a televised news conference, asked Gingrich if he would be able to go forward with Romney “still in his head.” Gingrich responded, “Well, first of all, I'm not sure that Mitt Romney is in my head. I mean think that's an interesting analysis on your part. I am sure that with a psychiatric degree that will get you a tremendous opportunity to have new clients.”
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