CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 3, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
NEW PHASE OF THE RACE HAS BEGUN: For the first time in a campaign speech, President Obama names Mitt Romney – and ties him to the Republicans in Congress: "The Republicans running Congress right now have doubled down and proposed a budget so far to the right, it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal. In fact, that renowned liberal Newt Gingrich first called the original version of the budget radical and said it would contribute to right-wing social engineering. This is coming from Newt Gingrich, and yet this isn't a budget supported by some small hump group in the Republican Party; this is now the party's governing platform. This is what they're running on. One of my potential opponents, Governor Romney, has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced on Day One of his presidency. He said that he's very supportive of this new bu dget and he even called it marvelous, which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget."
FLASHBACK: Bob Kemper and Jeff Zeleny, writing for the Chicago Tribune, March 4, 2004: “A day after Sen. John Kerry all but locked up the Democratic presidential nomination, President Bush lit into his new rival as an uncertain leader while unveiling the first television ads of what promises to be a bitterly fought eight-month campaign. Attacking Kerry for the first time by name, Bush told supporters that he looked forward to comparing his record with Kerry's two decades in the U.S. Senate. And in a theme central to his argument for re-election, Bush warned that "the security and prosperity of America is at stake" in the election. “Despite his incumbency, Bush attacked Kerry as a Washington insider who has flip-flopped on various issues throughout his tenure. ‘Sen. Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue,’ Bush said."
What famous politician once invited cameras to watch him put on a scuba suit and get skin samples off of a whale?
Rick Santorum’s math makes his path to the Republican presidential nomination possible, but highly improbable. If you are a “smart” gambler, you would take one look at the odds and walk away from the table. Save your money for another day.
But if you are Santorum, you reach deep into your pocket, pull out a few coins and tell the dealer to throw the cards down, especially when you see poll numbers like the ones we highlighted last week.
For the 53-year-old Santorum, it is a gamble to stay in the race even as the GOP establishment is rallying behind Mitt Romney. Santorum is young, has won 11 states so far in the GOP primary and has shown that he has a strong connection with the conservative grass-roots. But will Santorum hurt his standing within the Republican Party if he remains in the race? Simple answer is yes, but there is a chance he will never get this close to the GOP nomination again. Should he just throw it all away?
The former Pennsylvania senator told CNN’s Piers Morgan on Monday that he doesn’t think his long-term political career is in jeopardy. “I believe what's best for the country is to make sure that we have the strongest possible nominee,” he said.
And Santorum claims the delegate math is not as bad as it appears (more on that later), and he sees a way to win the nomination. The former Pennsylvania senator said he just needs to get beyond April, when a number of states that he described as “not conservative” - including tonight’s contests in the District of Columbia and Maryland - hold their primaries. However, “the month of May is rich with delegates and are strong states for us,” he said.
“States like Texas and Arkansas and Kentucky, and Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina,” Santorum said. “Those are the states that we know we can get this right back to where it is right now, which is a lot closer than what Mitt Romney and the pundits are spinning. It's a very close race and by the end of May, we expect this race to be - to be very close to even.”
But wait. Let’s go to the board and look at the math. Heading into tonight’s primaries, Mitt Romney has accumulated 571 delegates, more than twice as many as Santorum (264), four times that of Newt Gingrich (137), and eight times more than Ron Paul (71).
The goal, of course, is to cross the finish line of 1,144 delegates. In order to do so, Romney needs to pick up 47% of the remaining delegates, Santorum 72%, Gingrich 83%, and Paul 88%.
Not great odds if you are Santorum; even worse if you are Gingrich and Paul. And most of the remaining contests allocate their delegates along a proportional formula – making it hard for any one candidate to walk way with a fistful of delegates.
So why is Santorum staying in the race? Perhaps it is on principle, he feels that he deserves it or he legitimately thinks he can win the nomination. Only the former Pennsylvania senator can really answer that question.
This we do know. If Romney scores a hat trick by winning all three primaries tonight, it all but sets up a last stand for Santorum in his home state of Pennsylvania where he has guaranteed a win. And if he loses his home state on April 24, it is all but over for Santorum.
Even President Obama is now publicly mentioning Romney as his inevitable opponent – taking a shot at the former Massachusetts governor in his address today to the Associated Press Luncheon in Washington. The president’s remarks come as the Obama campaign is running a television ad in swing states accusing Romney of being in the pocket of the oil industry.
Still, in his interview with Morgan, Santorum said he is “committed to following this thing through” and emphasized, “it has nothing to do with me.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Obama attacks GOP budget proposal
President Barack Obama launched a major assault Tuesday on the House-passed Republican budget proposal embraced by front-running GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, calling it "social Darwinism" that would stifle the American dream.
Leading Drudge: Emergency In Dallas
Severe storms in the Metroplex spawned at least two tornadoes that injured several people, damaged homes and tossed big-rigs into the air Tuesday afternoon.
Leading HuffPo: Wisconsin Primary 2012: Mitt Romney Ready To Drive Up Delegate Lead Over Rick Santorum
As Republicans head out to vote in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, the final pre-election polls show former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney poised to sweep all three contests and gain at least four out of five of all delegates chosen by Tuesday's vote.
Leading Politico: Wisconsin, Maryland and D.C. primaries: 5 things to watch
It’s either the beginning of the end, or more of the same, depending on which candidate is talking. But tonight’s trifecta of primaries in which 98 delegates are at stake — in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. — come at a crucial point in the 2012 Republican primary race.
Leading New York Times: Obama Calls G.O.P. Budget Plan ‘Social Darwinism’
President Obama opened a full-frontal assault Tuesday on the budget adopted by House Republicans, condemning it as a “Trojan horse” and “thinly veiled social Darwinism” that would greatly deepen inequality in the country.
The political bites of the day
– Ryan: Obama portrays us like a “villain in a cartoon” –
PAUL RYAN SAID THIS AT A MITT ROMNEY CAMPAIGN EVENT IN WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN: “We are witnessing a day, another day in which we have a president who is really good at giving speeches. The problem with our president is he is not good at leadership. He is not good at solving problems. And so we will hear another big government populism speech from the president today. I have no doubt about it. And in these kinds of speeches what he will do is he will try to characterize those people who do not agree with where he is taking America as if we are some kind of villain in a cartoon, like the cartoons we watched on Saturday mornings growing up.”
– Obama charges of social Darwinism –
PRESIDENT OBAMA AT A CAMAPIGN EVENT IN WASHINGTON, D.C.: “My budget takes a similarly balanced approach. Cuts in discretionary spending, cuts in mandatory spending, increased revenue. This congressional Republican budget is something different altogether. It is a Trojan horse, disguised as deficit reduction plans. It is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism.”
– Santorum wants to play the second half –
RICK SANTORUM SAID THIS TO WISN IN HARTLAND, WISCONSIN: “We need to have the best candidate and the idea that we just need to short-circuit the process when half the voters haven’t had the chance to vote, it’s not fair to them. It’s like ending the championship game at halftime because somebody’s ahead. Well, just because they’re ahead, they may be way ahead, but you know what, there’s still a second half to play. Let’s play the second half and see how it goes.”
– The tortoise and the hair –
JAY LENO JOKED ABOUT NEWT GINGRICH ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Despite being broke and coming in last in the polls, Newt Gingrich says he is in the race for the long haul, describing himself as the tortoise in this race. That's what he called himself, the tortoise. See, if he picks Donald Trump as a running mate, they could be the tortoise and the hair.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Philip Klein (@philipaklein)
Obama lecturing the press that reporting both sides of an issue reinforces Americans' cynicism.
Columbia Jrn Review (@CJR) April 03, 2012
Sarah Palin’s publicity stunt on NBC’s “Today Show” has nothing on the world leader who once shot a tiger to protect a TV crew, rode a horse bare-chested and, yes, scuba dove to investigate whales: Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin.
Weeks away from reclaiming the presidency, Putin is still dominating American social media thanks to the “hot mic” moment last week that caught President Obama asking outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for breathing room on missile defense (Medvedev responded that he would relay the message to Putin).
BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller in particular has had fun asking what else we should relay. And today President Obama began his speech to The Associated Press with a joke at his own expense: “It is a pleasure to speak to all of you and to have a microphone that I can see. Feel free to transmit any of this to Vladimir if you see him.”
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