CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 3, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING… HIGH STAKES HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng and U.S. officials continue to debate the state and future of the dissident who is seeking asylum in the United States.
U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke to CNN’s Stan Grant: “We took extraordinary steps to retrieve him. We found out that he had escaped, was in Beijing, wanted to talk to us. We undertook almost like a mission impossible retrieval to bring him into the embassy. And it was very, very clear all along – he wanted to be reunified with his family, he wanted to stay in China, to be a freedom fighter. He did not want to go to the United States.”
Jay Carney, White House press secretary, 1:07 p.m. ET: “We have seen that Mr. Chen and his wife's view of what is best for him and them may be changing… Our U.S. State Department in Beijing had conversations with Beijing officials to receive assurances, and did receive assurances that he would not be harassed upon release.”
Mark Toner, State Department spokesman, 1:12 p.m. ET: “Both countries recognize that it is in our own national security interests to work together on a slew of common issues and we are going to continue to do so but at the same time continue to address human rights issues.”
Mitt Romney, on the campaign trail in Hampton Roads, Virginia, 1:53 pm ET: “It's also apparent, according to these reports if they are accurate, that our embassy failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would assure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family. If these reports are true this is a dark day for freedom and it is a day of shame for the Obama administration.”
What state’s entire congressional delegation consists of people whose last names start with the same letter?
Modern history shows that if you want to win the White House, you must win two of the three following states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Using this modern historical trend, if the election were held today it is unclear who would be the next president, a new set of Quinnipiac University presidential polls of these three key states show.
The only state where there is a clear leader right now is Pennsylvania: President Barack Obama holds a 47% to 39% lead over the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. It is too close to call in the other two states. In Ohio, Obama holds a 44% to 42% lead over Romney, while in Florida, Romney holds a 44% to 43% lead over Obama.
We often talk in macro terms about the presidential election: the mood of the country and the national polls. But in reality the presidential election is decided by a handful of states, including Florida and Ohio. We all know Romney is going to win the reliably Republican states such as Alabama and Mississippi, while Obama is going to take the traditional Democratic strongholds of California and Massachusetts. In the past four presidential elections, Democrats and Republicans each won twice in Ohio and Florida.
While Pennsylvania is often described as a battleground state, it is worth noting that a Republican has not won the state since then-Vice President George H.W. Bush carried the state in 1988.
As with every presidential re-election, the 2012 election is being framed as a referendum on the incumbent. In November, it is Obama’s turn, and people’s perceptions about an economic recovery, or lack thereof, will play a big part in who wins and loses.
In Florida, 70% of voters said the country is in a recession, but 51% also responded that the country is in a recovery, according to the Quinnipiac Poll. Looking at Ohio, the numbers are slightly better for the president. Sixty-seven percent of Ohio voters described the current economic state as a recession, but 55% said the economy is recovering.
The Quinnipiac Poll also had good news for the presumptive Republican nominee, as voters in each state expressed more confidence in Romney than Obama in handling the economy. In Florida, Romney holds a 49% to 40% advantage over Obama on this issue, while in Ohio, Romney has a 47% to 43% lead.
There are still six months of campaigning and a lot can happen, but as CNN contributor James Carville said in 1992, "It's the economy, stupid."
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Chen case another human rights issue for Obama administration
Iran, Syria, and now China. President Barack Obama faces a third front of vulnerability on his administration's record of defending human rights with the muddled situation involving activist Chen Guangcheng.
Leading Drudge: RNC Offers Obama New Slogan
The Republican National Committee is getting ahead of President Obama's official campaign kickoff in Ohio and Virginia on Saturday with a media blitz labeling his re-election drive the "Hype & Blame" tour.
Leading HuffPo: Democrats In GOP-Leaning House Races May Aid Obama Turnout
Republican-leaning areas in states vital to President Barack Obama's re-election prospects are drawing top-tier Democratic congressional candidates who, even if they lose, could help turn out the vote and boost Obama's chances of winning a second term.
Leading Politico: The state both parties want
The verdict is in: Barack Obama’s 2008 victory in Virginia was not a fluke. For the once reliably Republican state, competitive presidential elections are the new normal.
Leading New York Times: Romney Camp Stirred Storm Over Gay Aide
It was the biggest moment yet for Mitt Romney’s foreign policy team: a conference call last Thursday, dialed into by dozens of news outlets from around the globe, to dissect and denounce President Obama’s record on national security. But Richard Grenell, the political strategist who helped organize the call and was specifically hired to oversee such communications, was conspicuously absent, or so everyone thought.
Leading CNN Money: Facebook sets $28 to $35 IPO price range
It's the day techies and investors have been waiting for: Facebook set a price range of $28 to $35 per share for its initial public offering. It also upped the maximum size of its offering to $13.6 billion, up from its previous $5 billion estimate.
The political bites of the day
– Bachmann says Romney is the only option for president –
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ENDORSED ROMNEY IN A PRESS RELEASE: “I am endorsing Gov. Mitt Romney for president of the United States, a man who will preserve the American dream of prosperity and liberty. … This is the last chance we have to keep America from going "forward," over the cliff, as Gov. Romney said, and restore the values of prosperity and freedom. This is the opportunity for conservatives, independents and disaffected Democrats to join me and Gov. Romney in denying Obama a second term. On November 6, the only option is Mitt Romney for president.”
Gut Check Flashback: Bachmann to Wolf Blitzer on November 29: “Romney has advocated for every citizen in Massachusetts to purchase health insurance, which is the same as Obamacare and was a pattern for Obamacare. He's been on both sides of the abortion issue. He was for same-sex marriage, and I believe had signed 189 marriage licenses for same-sex couples then came out against it. And so, on issue after issue after issue, Gov. Romney has been on both sides.”
– Jindal has the job he wants, but would he say no? –
LOUISIANA GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TALKS THE VICE PRESIDENCY ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “I've got the job that I want. I know pundits will be speculating on who he's going to pick. At the end of the day, he'll pick the person who will do the best job as president and make that decision not based on political or other grounds and whoever he picks I'm going to support that ticket. I think it's that important not only for Louisiana but our country.”
– In rare interview, Bush talks about supporting the troops –
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH PIERS MORGAN THAT WILL AIR ON CNN AT 9 P.M. ET: “It's important to me because – I want to stay connected to the veteran community. I'm not going to be a very public person; this is a rare interview for me. And therefore I'm worried the vets think I don't care about them. And this is a - this is a way to say not only do I respect them, but I love them and - and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.”
– To Fallon, slow jamming = bump in the polls –
JIMMY FALLON JOKES ABOUT THE PRESIDENT ON HIS LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW: “President Obama's approval rating has reached his highest point in almost a year. Which explains why today he called me and was like, “is it OK if I slow jam the news every Tuesday?’”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
New Study: 7 out of 10 presidential campaign commercials negative. ouch! bit.ly/K5PcY8—
Paul Steinhauser (@psteinhauserCNN) May 03, 2012
In Session (@InSession) May 03, 2012
Asked on Fox if today's appearance w/ Romney is a test run for VP, McDonnell said "That's good media drama but that's not what's happened"—
Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) May 03, 2012
Virginia the swing state: Per '09 numbers, state has 3rd highest pop of civilian federal workers in US. (behind outlier DC and CA)—
Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews) May 03, 2012
Top House Republican moves closer to holding Holder in contempt cnn.com/2012/05/03/pol…—
Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn) May 03, 2012
C is not just for Cookie. Delaware, or at least the state’s congressional delegation, also have a thing for the letter C.
When Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. John C. Carney Jr. were elected by the First State in 2010, they joined Sen. Tom Carper and completed Delaware’s trinity of C.
Our inbox awaits: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing email@example.com
Feel free to email us names of friends you want to get on our list or comments you think could improve our product. Send positive comments to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood. We also want to give a shout out to Dan Merica, who runs our Twitter account @gutCheckCNN and enriches this product every single day.