CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 4, 2012| 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
JUST IN: Army criminal investigators have completed their first visit to the two villages where Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is alleged to have killed 17 Afghan civilians, CNN’s Barbara Starr reports.
DEVELOPING: CNN has obtained the newest satellite image of North Korea’s rocket launch preparations. CNN’s Adam Levine reports about the "specific activity" on the pad, as well as at the rocket checkout assembly facility.
What current member of Congress is considered the fastest? And who is the former congressman that beat him in a 2009 race?
Mitt Romney’s sharp criticism of President Obama, including calling “his candor into serious question,” is the headline out of Romney’s address today to the Newspaper Association of America. And it should be, as it was just 24 hours ago that Obama singled Romney out by name in his own speech before the Associated Press Luncheon.
The focus is now turning to the general election for Obama and Romney even if the Republican presidential primary is not yet officially over. Game On.
It should come as no surprise that Romney used the speech to directly attack the president and his policies, and to raise doubts about Obama’s honesty. Politics is a rough game and it is only going to get uglier and more personal as we move closer to November.
What is interesting is how Romney set up his criticism of the president. He made a hard sell to the influential journalists gathered in Washington, emphasized his respect for the industry and noted that many conservatives don’t trust the media.
“Most people in my position are convinced that you are biased against us,” Romney said. “We identify with LBJ's famous quip that if he were to walk on water, your headline would read ‘President Can’t Swim.’”
“Some people thus welcome the tumult in your industry, heralding the new voices and the unfiltered or supposedly unbiased sources. Frankly, in some of the new media, I find myself missing the presence of editors to exercise quality control. I miss the days of two or more sources for a story – when at least one source was actually named.”
It is the type of praise journalists are receptive to hearing, especially because the media industry feels under siege as a result of newsroom cuts and the advances in technology that have spawned a new generation of bloggers who do not have editorial controls in place.
But Romney didn’t stop there. He continued with his praise for what some people describe as the “lame stream” media.
“How your industry will change, I cannot predict,” Romney said. “I subscribe to Yogi Berra's dictum, ‘Forecasting is very difficult, especially when it involves the future.’
“But I do know this: You will continue to find ways to provide the American people with reliable information that is vital to our lives and to our nation. And I am confident that the press will remain free. But further, I salute this organization and your various institutions in your effort to make it not only free, but also responsible, accurate, relevant, and integral to the functioning of our democracy.”
And then came the pivot as Romney launched into a full-throated criticism of Obama, at one point referencing the president’s recent embarrassing comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev asking him for space on the issue of the U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe. Obama’s remarks were not meant to be publicized, but were caught by a microphone.
“The voters will hear the debates, be buffeted by advertising, and be informed by your coverage,” Romney said. “And hopefully after all this, they will have an accurate understanding of the different directions we would take and the different choices we would make.
“Of course, for that to happen, the candidates must be candid about their views and plans. And, in that regard, President Obama’s comments to President Medvedev are deeply troubling. That incident calls his candor into serious question. He does not want to share his real plans before the election, either with the public or with the press. By flexibility, he means that ‘What the American public doesn't know won't hurt him.’ He is intent on hiding. You and I will have to do the seeking.”
Romney was not quite proposing a partnership with the media when he told the journalists that “You and I will have to do the seeking” into Obama’s policies and promises. But he was trying to persuade them to spend more time taking a critical look at the president.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Romney blasts Obama after latest primary victories
Fresh off a three-primary sweep that bolstered the perception he is the inevitable Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney on Wednesday blasted President Barack Obama for running what he called a "hide-and-seek" campaign that lacks candor.
Leading Drudge: Goodbye, 13,000?
Stocks remained firmly in negative territory Wednesday, with the Dow inching closer to the psychologically-important 13,000 level, following disappointment over the Fed's latest minutes and ongoing worries over the euro zone.
Leading HuffPo: 2012 GOP Primary: Mitt Romney Eyes Rick Santorum Knockout In Pennsylvania
Over beers at a small pub here an hour north of Philadelphia, a handful of Tea Party activists were blunt when asked whether they thought Rick Santorum might lose the Pennsylvania presidential primary in less than three weeks.
Leading Politico: Mitt Romney, Obama take same stage in fall preview
Mitt Romney capped his three-state sweep on Tuesday night by taking the same stage as President Obama the day before. Speaking in Washington at the Newspaper Association of America conference, Romney made no mention of his primary opponents in the latest attempt to signal the long race for the Republican presidential nomination is over.
Leading New York Times: Romney Says Obama Hides His Agenda
The day after his clean sweep of Tuesday’s three Republican primaries, Mitt Romney attacked President Obama for a “hide-and-seek campaign” that disguises his real intentions on the budget, foreign policy, energy and other policy touchstones. Mr. Romney said it “calls his candor into serious question."
The political bites of the day
– McCain: Santorum’s decision to stay in is irrelevant –
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “Mitt Romney has already pivoted to the general election campaign, that whether Rick Santorum stays in or not, it's now basically irrelevant, and Mitt has a lot of ground to make up. It's been a very nasty primary. His unfavorables are high. I'm confident that he will do very well, but the fact is that every day that goes by without being in the general election campaign mode is a day lost.”
– Not dropping out, not poll driven –
SANTORUM COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR HOGAN GIDLEY TOLD CNN’S PAUL STEINHAUSER THIS: “We have no plans to get out of this race prior to the Pennsylvania primary. Zero. … In 2006, Rick Santorum was down in the polls but he didn't change his convictions. It's not about wins and losses for Rick Santorum. It's about fighting for freedom. This campaign is not poll driven.”
– Keep the faith, says Obama –
PRESIDENT OBAMA AT THE WHITE HOUSE EASTER PRAYER BREAKFAST: “I want to just express appreciation for your prayers. Every time I travel around the country, somebody is going around saying, ‘We’re praying for you. We got a prayer circle going. Don’t worry, keep the faith. We’re praying.’ Michelle gets the same stuff. And that means a lot to us. It especially means a lot to us when we hear from folks who we know probably didn’t vote for me and yet, expressing extraordinary sincerity about their prayers.”
– The one about Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and a sandwich –
CONAN O’BRIEN JOKED ABOUT THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Yes, a little bit of controversy going on with the Wisconsin primaries. Wisconsin Democrats are accusing Mitt Romney of handing out free sub sandwiches in an exchange for votes, which explains why today Newt Gingrich voted for Mitt Romney … seven times.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Paul Ryan (@RepPaulRyan) April 03, 2012
Expect to hear this line a lot from Romney in coming weeks. Twice referred to Obama's "hide and seek" campaign—
Steve Brusk (@stevebruskCNN) April 04, 2012
Santorum: "We've now reached the point where it's halftime..Who's ready to charge out of the locker room in Penn for a strong second half?"—
Matt Viser (@mviser) April 04, 2012
Biggest problem with halftime analogy is that, unlike in sports, Repubs are all on the same team with the same goal - beat Obama.—
Josh Romney (@joshromney) April 04, 2012
Overlooked: Professional Bullets/Wizards heckler Robin Ficker finished 5th of 7th in GOP primary against Roscoe Bartlett.—
Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) April 04, 2012
Twitter officially BLOWN UP from SOUTHEAST Washington, DC! We tweet with swag over here. It's called twaggin if you didn't know.—
Marion S. Barry, Jr. (@marionbarryjr) April 04, 2012
Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, was named the fastest member of Congress in 2011 after running the three-mile American Council of Life Insurers race in 18 minutes and 54 seconds. Though his quick per-mile pace of six minutes and 18 seconds was not the fastest overall, it was the fastest among members of Congress who competed. Thune was also the fastest member of Congress in 2010 and 2011.
Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Illinois, is considered the fastest member of the House of Representatives, but finished behind Thune in 2010 and 2011.
Both Thune and Schock pale in comparison to former Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tennessee. Gordon, who retired in 2010, was considered the fastest member of Congress for most of his 25 years in the House and won the ACLI race 20 years in a row. He beat Thune and Schock in 2009 (his last race) with a time of 18 minutes, 49 seconds, even though Schock was 27 and Gordon was 60. Gordon’s winning 2009 time was almost two minutes off his 1995 personal best of 16 minutes, 59 seconds.
“Every year, the competition gets a little younger and faster, but that just drives me to dig a little deeper,” Gordon said after his 2008 victory.
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