CNN's GUT CHECK | for June 11, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING… GROWING CONCERNS OVER THE COMMERCE SECRETARY. CNN’s Brianna Keilar reports that Secretary John Bryson is back at work today in Washington with no public events scheduled after allegedly causing two weekend car accidents in California. After the accidents, Bryson was taken to the hospital and remained overnight for testing and observation in California. He was released and flew back to Washington on Sunday night. He remains in touch with his doctors who are monitoring his progress. His office stated he had a seizure but could not confirm the timing of his seizure, saying that Bryson had never had a seizure before. “We cannot confirm the exact timing of the seizure, the cause of the seizure or the sequence of events. The Secretary was driving alone and at this point he has a limited recall of the events.”
What senator promised to put a hold on Secretary of Commerce John Bryson's nomination? And what was the senator’s reason for doing so?
We can’t stop thinking about Velma Hart. She is a middle-class working mom who put her finger on this election two years ago at a CNBC presidential town hall.
On September 20, 2010, Hart stood up in the audience and asked President Barack Obama a question that has the potential to define his presidency:
HART: I am a chief financial officer for a veterans service organization, AMVETS, here in Washington. I’m also a mother, I’m a wife, I’m an American veteran and I’m one of your middle-class Americans. And quite frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for –
HART: - and deeply disappointed with where we are right now. I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people, and I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don't feel it yet…. And quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly, is this my new reality?
The president tried to answer her – and took more than four minutes in an attempt that failed to connect, even to this day.
“I still don’t feel like I have enough. I still don’t know that any of us have enough,” Hart said in an interview Monday with Gut Check. “I just wish there were some banner, some lighting rod that we could point to that has happened in the last 3½ years that showed how he changed things for the good.”
“I am just a regular person trying to make ends meet,” Hart continued. “I still very much appreciate the president but I really am worried though that I don’t see enough traction for the average person. I worry about the people. I worry about the ineffectiveness on the Democratic side and the meanness on the Republican side.”
There she does it again. Hart has a way of putting her finger on the weakness of the current political debate: connecting with the middle class, especially a middle class weathering a tough economy.
When asked how she is doing now, Velma Hart answered quickly, “Struggling to figure out what is going on. ... Everything is so uncertain.”
When asked whom she believes she speaks for, she said: “I am talking for everyone who cares like me; everyone who has kids like me; everyone who like me is thinking about retirement or wondering if we have to work until we die.”
But there is hope. Hart has no regrets about leaving the cloak of anonymous citizenry to brave the open microphone and klieg lights of the political spectrum, “I always tell my daughter if we really don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: For GOP star, mom, challenges go beyond Congress
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is one of 76 women in the House of Representatives. She's the only woman in the House Republican leadership and has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney. But like many, her work is only part of what defines her. Central in her life are her husband, Brian Rodgers, and their two children, 18-month-old Grace and Cole, 5. – Lisa Sylvester and Bethany Swain
Leading Drudge: House Sets Contempt Vote On Holder
CBS News has learned the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. It's the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member.
Leading HuffPo: Mitt Romney 2012 Chances Seen As Better By Republicans
Republicans riding high from a string of breaks in their favor are increasingly optimistic about Mitt Romney's chances to claim the White House in November, even among conservatives who had qualms about making him the party's nominee.
Leading Politico: Obama tests the theory of likability
The polls agree: President Barack Obama is likable. The question is whether he’s likable enough to get reelected. – Alexander Burns
Leading New York Times: While Seeking Support, Obama Faces a Frustrated Hispanic Electorate
President Obama’s immigration policies, including an increase in deportations, have produced few gains among Latinos. – Julia Preston
The political bites of the day
– Could Reagan or George H.W. Bush get nominated by today’s GOP? –
FORMER FLORIDA GOV. JEB BUSH IN AN EDITORIAL MEETING WITH BLOOMBERG IN NEW YORK: “Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad – they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party – and I don't – as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground.”
– Every town counts… especially in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin –
MITT ROMNEY ANNOUNCES BUS TOUR IN A PRESS RELEASE: “Too many American families have experienced a lost job, faced foreclosure or been forced to spend their kids' college savings just to make ends meet. These are not statistics – these are our fellow Americans. In America’s small towns, you don't find despair - you find boundless optimism. We know we can make America better, and that is why I am running for president.”
– Union president: Romney should talk about wealth, not job creation –
LEO GERARD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STEELWORKERS, ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “One of the difficulties is people like Mitt Romney who have destroyed jobs, he closed a number of plants where our workers were there and walked away with hundreds and millions of dollars and members got 2/10 of 1 cent on pension plans, he's not in a position to talk about job creation. He can talk about wealth creation.”
– Carney calls Bryson accident a unique situation, says WH is still gathering info –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING: “This circumstance was pretty unique in that Secretary Bryson was alone, was not with a security detail, was on private time, which is common for certain members of the Cabinet. And it resulted in him both having a seizure and ending up in a hospital. For that reason I think you have to recognize that this is somewhat unique. But in general certainly it is important that the White House be informed as soon as possible.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
How do you explain Jeb straying from stereotypical GOP line on some issues, still being popular & respected. It's called leadership—
Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) June 11, 2012
Congress has just 53 days before its summer recess to take action on jobs: OFA.BO/BbSqtz—
Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 11, 2012
My first DC gossip scoop in a while: Hillary Clinton hosting a Susan Collins engagement party @ Whitehaven tonight buzzfeed.com/buzzfeedpoliti…—
Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) June 11, 2012
Since they deleted it, here's a screen grab of the American Crossroads tweet alleging Bryson had been drinking. http://t.co/IQXcnzE2—
Josh Dorner (@JoshDorner) June 11, 2012
Best wishes to Commerce Secretary John Bryson. Politics aside, I hope he's ok. Whatever he's going through, I hope 4the best.—
Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) June 11, 2012
(@MicheleBachmann) June 11, 2012
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, vowed to hold up President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Department of Commerce, John Bryson, in July 2011 because of his time as an environmental activist. Bryson is the co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“My goal is to have him withdrawn and to have Obama submit somebody else,” Inhofe said at a press conference in July 2011. Inhofe told the National Journal that approving Bryson would prove that President Barack Obama “has no intention of backing down from his jobs-killing agenda.”
While a majority of Republicans vowed to hold Bryson’s nomination until the White House approved a number of free trade agreements, Inhofe was adamant that his hold was about Bryson, not free trade.
Bryson is in the news for his involvement in three car accidents in California, accidents that have led to an investigation for possible felony hit-and-run. A preliminary alcohol screening of Bryson was negative, Lt. Ariel Duran of the San Gabriel Police Department said, and results from a blood alcohol test were pending.
"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend," said a statement by Commerce Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Friedman. "He suffered a seizure. He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington. The investigation is ongoing."
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congratulations to Dave Stroup (@DaveStroup) for correctly answering Gut Check Trivia today. Stroup was the first to answer that Inhofe attempted to hold up Bryson’s nomination because of his time as an environmental activist.
Twitter’s government lead Adam Sharp (@AdamS) noticed we did not mention New York as a city that hosted Congress. We told Sharp that while we wrote about congressional host cities on Friday, we singled out unexpected cities, but not all congressional hosts. By all means, though, we agree with him that we should make sure viewers know that the Big Apple was indeed the domain of Congress. From January 11, 1785, to autumn 1788 and from March 4, 1789 to December 5, 1790, predecessors to the United States Congress met in New York, meaning that New York was the capital of the United States during that time. Washingtonians are surely glad the capital moved south, because if New York was still the capital, it would be yet another thing that New Yorkers would brag about.
Our inbox awaits: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing email@example.com
Tips or comments? Send them 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.