CNN’s GUT CHECK for May 3, 2012
Chen Guangcheng at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday.
May 3rd, 2012
05:01 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN’s GUT CHECK for May 3, 2012

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.”

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer below)
What state’s entire congressional delegation consists of people whose last names start with the same letter?

MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

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."

the LEDE
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.

TRAIL MOMENTS
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?’”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

TRIVIA ANSWER
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.

GOT NEWS?
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Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Jerry

    It's embarrassing the way this situation has been handled by the Mr. Obama administration. The first one to be shoved (kicked) out of office should be Hillary Clinton.

    We'll be better off keeping Mr. Obama, FOR NOW. We can't afford to inherit Big/Stuffy Mouth Biden.

    May 3, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Tyrone

    Yo Mittster, when you gonna lose the skirt & have aPow-wow with some Journalist????????????

    May 3, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "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."

    Is that even true? The State Department's last public statement on the subject that I'm aware of said specifically that he had NOT requested asylum. He only decided he wanted to come to American AFTER he was released by the embassy.

    If that has changed and he has formally requesteed asylum, then you need to cite your sources so we know it's not just CNN editorializing the situation just so you can use a hot-button buzzword like "asylum" in your article. Otherwise, the opening line of this article is in direct contradiction to reporting in a previous article in which you acknowledged that the State Dept. said he had not requested asylum.

    May 3, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "It's embarrassing the way this situation has been handled by the Mr. Obama administration. "

    Really? What's embarassing abotu taking a political dissident under the protection of the embassy, getting assurances from the Chinese gov't that he will not be harrassed or persecuted and then releasing him because he has not requested asylum. Then he says he wants to go to Amurika AFTER he is released. Face it: the only thing "embarassing" here is that an interesting and somewhat unique situation occurred without anyone or any political/diplomatic ties being harmed and the GOP/Teatrolls are desperately and breathlessly trying to gin up false and baseless outrage over it by spewing weird rationalizations and incoherent doubespeak.

    May 3, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    The big lie is that it is in interest of the US not to damage its relations with China. The good relations are understood by China tha they can continue to cheat the US.

    This said, what the embassy did was the only thing the could do. I do not think that Cheng changed his mind, factually he knew that after what happened, the family would not be harmed, but neither allowed to leave with him. So, he returned and then "changed his opinion", hoping that the ensuing scandal would force Beijing to yield.

    Of course: if Syria or any other Arab spring related governement would act as the Chinese, the world would holler. Why China is tolerated?? Because Apple and other are making billions exploiting the virtual slave workers which the Chinese government offers them!

    May 3, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. Flipper Rmoney Failure Ahead

    The GOBP: No guts. No glory.

    May 3, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. Larry

    I'm having trouble explaining to myself how CGC continues to have access to his cell phone. He even manages to dial into a Congressional meeeting from his hospital bed. I think we are being played here and I'm glad Gary Locke has proceeded very cautiously.

    May 3, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  8. SAMMIEB51

    So how is this Obama's fault? Sounds like whoever runs the Embassy should be lambasted. The guy wanted to stay yesterday, today he wants to leave with his family, he's still in a hospital and apparently has the ear of the entire world. Why are we so consumed with one dissident in a communist country?? I really don't get this. I'd like to hear more about Mr. JT Ready, the neocon nazi right wing nut, self-proclaimed vigilante border patrol, in AZ who slaughtered his family. Kicked out of the military twice and at 39 moves in with is half-Latino girlfriend (and he hates Latinos!) because he doesn't have a place to live!! Loser. He and those like him will do more to unravel the 2nd Amendment than anything else. These mass murderers have to be stopped!

    May 3, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  9. Lans

    Eleven stories on the page and eight were about republicans and one about democrats. CNN you need to try harder to replace Fox. You get 'A' for effort though.

    May 3, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  10. gg

    the republican have the house about sanction communist china–no more chinnese goods unloaded till they let the guy go

    May 3, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |