CNN's GUT CHECK | for June 21, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING… OBAMA HAS SLIGHT LEAD IN CNN POLL OF POLLS: President Barack Obama has a 4 point lead over likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a compilation of polls from Gallup, Bloomberg, Pew Research Center, AP/Gfk and Reuters/ Ipsos. Forty-eight percent of respondents said Obama was their choice for president, while 44% said their choice was Romney.
LEADING… RUBIO TALKS IMMIGRATION WITH WOLF BLITZER: “Look, what I first encountered when I came to the Senate was no one wanted to talk about immigration. There were too many scars. People had gone through too much in years past. It was a very highly charged, very politicized issue. And the argument that I was making was that this was a humanitarian issue, not simply an immigration one. … And then in comes the president, without talking to anybody, and basically does it by executive order. And it's five months before the election, in a blatant effort to try to win Hispanic votes, or at least to energize the Hispanic vote and to turn it against Republicans. He's politicized it.”
Gut Check DVR: Rubio will sit down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at 5 p.m. ET.
Who said, "poor George, he can’t help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth"?
As you are reading “What caught our eye today in politics,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is asking deep pocketed GOP donors to contribute to the national committee, an ongoing effort to stock a war chest that only two years ago was barren.
Priebus said he spends an average of six to seven hours a day raising money and a portion of his call time this afternoon is scheduled at about the time you will likely be reading Gut Check.
It is a thankless job, but one that is paying off. In the month of May, the RNC raised $34 million – part of the $81 million Priebus and his finance team has raked in this year.
The RNC currently has about $61 million in the bank with only about $10 million in debt – an extraordinary financial turnaround from 2010.
Just two years ago, the RNC was in dire financial straits and Republicans had lost confidence in then-Chairman Michael Steele, who was amassing debt and doing little fundraising.
But for all of Steele’s public critics, Priebus was not one of them. Publicly, the then-Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman was a Steele ally. After the November election, in a major blow to Steele’s fleeting chances to win a second term, Priebus announced he would challenge him for the chairmanship.
In a campaign video for his RNC bid, Priebus was blunt in explaining why he was running for national party chair. “I don’t believe we can win the presidency without a highly functional RNC and unfortunately we don’t have that today,” Priebus said in a five minute video that included several endorsements.
Priebus told Gut Check in an interview today that the toughest decision wasn’t challenging Steele, but rather how winning would affect his young family.
“It wasn’t hard from the standpoint running for chairman or running against others seeking the position,” he said. “It was hard in the sense that if I run and won our entire life would be turned upside down for a few years. There was more hesitation on that end then running for chairman.”
When he took office, the RNC was more than $21 million in debt (the figure was actually higher if you included 2011 invoices that had not yet hit the books) with no financial cushion. In fact, he couldn’t make payroll. So Priebus started dialing for dollars. He had his finance team put together a list of every person who had given more than $1000 in the past eight years as well as the names of frequent contributors who had stopped giving during the Steele-era. He called these donors and asked them to open up their wallets again.
Priebus pledged to these donors that the RNC would once again be “functional and operational” and promised to “stay on message and watch my mouth.” Steele, while likable, was faulted for failing to raise money and rarely staying on message.
He also called in former RNC chairmen and major bundlers and opened the RNC books for their review. Priebus said he did so to “rebuild trust and credibility” with these power brokers.
Georgia Republican Party Chairman Sue Everhart said that Priebus should be lauded for turning the RNC around and helping eventual Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have a financial cushion heading into November.
“Everybody had lost confidence in the party,” she said. “They didn’t think the RNC managed the money well. The way the RNC is run now and the way the RNC is spending money is giving people the confidence to want to give the RNC money. And Reince has accomplished that.”
For all of the talk of the rising GOP stars on Capitol Hill, it is fair to say that Priebus has had a pretty good run as the national party chairman.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Contempt vote inflames debate over Fast and Furious
A possible U.S. House vote next week on citing Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress in connection with the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting evoked bitter political sniping Thursday between Republicans and Democrats. – Tom Cohen
Leading Drudge: Wait Until Next Week!
The Supreme Court did not rule on President Obama's healthcare law Thursday, raising tensions before a decision next week. The ruling was possible Thursday but not expected. – By Sam Baker and Elise Viebeck
Leading HuffPo: F*$%! Fleeting Expletives Fair Game
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday against the Federal Communications Commission's policy on fleeting expletives over the airwaves, vacating the lower court's decision on due process and fair notice grounds. It ducked the larger First Amendment issues about regulating broadcast indecency in Fox v. FCC. – Mike Sacks
Leading Politico: Supreme Court rules in indecency case
It could be years before we know whether rock stars have the constitutional right to accidentally drop the F-bomb on TV or if a flash of nipple will cost a network millions in fines, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling Thursday that kicks a question about an FCC rule further down the road. – David Saleh Rauf
Leading New York Times: In Speech, Romney Takes Softer Tone on Immigration
Speaking to Latino elected officials, Mitt Romney proposed granting green cards to immigrants who earn advanced degrees in America and giving legal status to immigrants who serve in the military. – Michael D. Shear and Trip Gabriel
The political bites of the day
- Without specifics, Romney says he will address illegal immigration in a ‘civil but resolute manner’ -
MITT ROMNEY IN A SPEECH TO THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LATINO ELECTED OFFICIALS: “Some people have asked if I will let stand the president's executive action. The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure. As president, I won’t settle for a stop-gap measure. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution. I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it.”
- Following speech, Obama campaign assails Romney for DREAM Act -
GABRIELA DOMENZAIN, OBAMA FOR AMERICA DIRECTOR OF HISPANIC PRESS, IN A STATEMENT: “Today, Mitt Romney told the largest national gathering of Hispanic elected officials: ‘When I make a promise to you, I will keep it.’ But in front of an audience of Republican primary voters, he called the DREAM Act a ‘handout’ and promised to veto it. Now, after seven days of refusing to say whether or not he’d repeal the Obama administration’s immigration action that prevents young people who were brought here through no fault of their own as children from being deported, we should take him at his word that he will veto the DREAM Act as president.”
- The Supremes keep us waiting on the big issues -
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN: “You know what – we don’t know if Obamacare is constitutional, we don’t know if the Arizona immigration law is constitutional, but we do know that Nicole Richie has a place in the constitutional history of the United States.” LINK
- Really? Mitt Romney would say that? -
CRAIG ROMNEY, SON OF MITT ROMNEY, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CONAN O’BRIEN: "Anytime you mentioned the words 'taco' or 'burrito' you knew my dad would chime in, 'Taco, burrito, what's coming out of your Speedo?"
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Mike O'Brien (@mpoindc) June 21, 2012
Pew: 52% of reg voters say Obama is most likely to win in November, while just 34% expect Romney to win—
Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) June 21, 2012
All but 2 battleground states have unemployment rates higher than they were on Election Day, November 4, 2008. bit.ly/NUR2Q2—
Karl Rove (@KarlRove) June 21, 2012
Obama: 'In just over a week the interest rates on federal student loans are scheduled to double' bit.ly/L8xeTi—
(@CNNPolitics) June 21, 2012
Strangely little talk of SCOTUS as a 2012 issue. Decent odds Obama could replace one of Kennedy/Scalia/Thomas in 2nd term.—
Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) June 21, 2012
Daniel Foster (@DanFosterNRO) June 21, 2012
When the then-Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards took to the podium at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, she delivered a number of one liners. “Poor George. He can’t help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth,” Richards said of then-Republican candidate George H.W. Bush.
In that same speech, Richards joked that after eight years of Bush as vice president, she figured “you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like.”
Richards entered elected politics in 1976 when she won a commissioner position for Travis County. In 1982 she was elected state treasurer, re-elected in 1986 and by the 1988 convention, Richards’ political stock was on the rise. Hot off her keynote address at the convention, Richards ran for governor of Texas in 1990 and won. She promised a “New Texas,” one that included more involvement by minorities and women.
After her four-year term, however, the son of the man she famously slighted, George W. Bush, challenged her for the Texas governor’s mansion. In a bit of redemption, Bush defeated Richards.
Richards’ legacy as a liberal, female leader in Texas continues to this day. She started the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin, Texas, and is widely considered someone in the hierarchy of historic Texas politicians. Richards died of cancer on September 13, 2006; former President Bill Clinton helped escort her casket to the state Capitol in Texas.
Tonight is the world premiere of “Ann Richards’ Texas” at the AFI/ Discovery Channel Silver Docs Documentary Festival. Mark is moderating a panel with the filmmakers after the 6 p.m. showing.
Imagine if she had won reelection in 1994. History as we know it would forever be changed.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congratulations to Natalie Riser (@nbriser) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Riser gave a no nonsense answer, tweeting solely “Ann Richards.” But we don’t grade for style and she was correct.
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