CNN's GUT CHECK for July 18, 2012
Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney backstage at a January 8th Romney rally in Rochester, New Hampshire.
July 18th, 2012
05:26 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for July 18, 2012

CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for July 18, 2012 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

JUST IN ... TIM PAWLENTY MAKES HIS CASE, SAYS FLASHINESS DOESN’T GAS UP YOUR CAR:

Neil Cavuto: How would you defend yourself from that criticism that maybe Mitt Romney needs a flashy running mate?

Tim Pawlenty: Well, I would just say this. We have a lot of people who are entertaining, who can light their hair on fire or whatever, but the bottom line is these are serious times, we need seasoned experienced people who get the job done and if you look at my record in Minnesota in terms of cutting taxes, reducing spending….

Neil Cavuto: Who lights their hair on fire, who are you talking about?

Tim Pawlenty: I’m just saying, we don’t need a …

Neil Cavuto: Chris Christie? Does Chris Christie light his hair on fire?

Tim Pawlenty: No, I’m talking about Barack Obama. Barack Obama gives us this soaring rhetoric last time, soaring rhetoric, and it turned out to be a bunch of empty promises.

Neil Cavuto: I see what you’re saying, go the other way. They’d go the other way. They’d embrace non-flashy.

Tim Pawlenty: Well, I’d also say, relative to who? I’m not as flashy as some, but compared to some others, I think I’m right in there. But nonetheless, I’m not defending it one way or the other. I’m just saying, people - rhetoric and teleprompter and jokes and that kind of stuff doesn’t put gas in our cars. It doesn’t pay our mortgage. It doesn’t pay our health insurance premiums. People are hurting. We’ve got neighbors and friends and loved ones who have given up hope. The country is ailing and headed in the wrong direction and we shouldn’t be debating who is going to be an entertainer in chief. We should be debating who can get this country moving again on the foundations values that made it a great success….

Neil Cavuto: Can you sing? …

Tim Pawlenty: No, I can’t sing very well. I’m sorry. (From Fox News' "Your World")

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Romney tries to dislodge Obama from attack
New ads from the presidential campaigns encapsulate where the race stands, with President Barack Obama's camp continuing its assault on his challenger over Mitt Romney’s business record and refusal to share tax records, and Romney trying to make allegations of cronyism knock the incumbent off the assault. – Paul Steinhauser, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak

Leading Drudge: Canadians Now Richer Than Americans
While Americans might enjoy throwing politically-charged barbs at their neighbors to the north, Canadians now have at least one reason to be smug. For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American, according to a report cited in Toronto's Globe and Mail. – Meg Handley

Leading HuffPo: They’re Just Not That Into You
Months after he mathematically locked up the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney remains a political hairball that GOP insiders - conservative and otherwise - wish they could cough up before the convention in Tampa, Florida, next month. – Howard Fineman

Leading Politico: Awkward: Obama jobs panel MIA
President Barack Obama’s Jobs Council hasn’t met publicly for six months, even as the issue of job creation dominates the 2012 election.
At this point, the hiatus — which reached the half-year mark Tuesday — might be less awkward than an official meeting, given the hornets’ nest of issues that could sting Obama and the council members if the private-sector panel gets together. – Josh Gerstein

Leading New York Times: Barrier to Romney Tax Disclosure Is the Candidate Himself
Mitt Romney has said it every way he can: He is not releasing any more of his tax returns. Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is facing millions of dollars in searing ads from President Obama and a rising chorus of puzzled Republicans, all urging him to reveal more of his financial history. – Michael D. Shear

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer below)

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met on Tuesday with President Barack Obama regarding the largest drought to hit the U.S. in over a decade. In what year was the Department of Agriculture founded and who was its first head?

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

If only... Mitt Romney had succumbed to pressure from his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination to release his tax returns in January, this issue wouldn’t be The Issue 111 days before Election Day.

That is, of course, unless Romney’s campaign advisers think that the information within his past tax returns would be more damaging politically if it were made public than the heat he is currently taking for refusing to release them.

It is the calls by Republicans for the release of the tax returns and precedent set by his father that is really dogging Romney. When his father George Romney ran for president in 1967, he made a point to release 12 years of his tax returns. “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show,” George Romney said at the time.

Seven months ago, in an effort to derail Romney’s candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich each demanded Romney release his returns during the GOP primary and warned of the consequences if he didn’t.

“Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you made your money,” Perry said during a debate on Fox in January. “I think that's a fair thing. Listen, here's the real issue for us, as Republicans, we cannot fire our nominee in September. We need to know now.

A day earlier, Gingrich said the same thing in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I think Governor Romney, if he plans to, to stay in the race, ought to plan to release his records because he'll never get through the fall without releasing his records, and it's better to do it in the primary season so the country understands what's going on and not wait and be surprised in September,” Gingrich said in the January 15 interview.

Romney answered his rivals’ calls to release more returns during the CNN Southern Republican Debate in South Carolina, although he offered little specifics about what he would make public and instead defended himself for being successful. “You know, I don’t know how many years Ill release,” Romney said in response to a question by CNN’s John King. “I’ll take a look at what our documents are and I’ll release multiple years. I don’t know how many years, but I’ll be happy to do that.”

Romney has released two years of returns so far, and as of now it doesn’t appear as if he will release more. If you look up the definition of multiple in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Romney has fulfilled his pledge to release more than one year.

But politics in the general election is not about fulfilling a pledge he made in January, but rather facing the political reality of the current state of play. The drumbeat from multiple Republicans in the past few weeks (Haley Barbour, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Bill Kristol, Rep. Ron Paul and George Will) has added to the pressure on Romney to release more information and has increased speculation on why he is choosing not to do so.

However, today, Romney got some rare support for his decision to keep this information private. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, colorfully told reporters this morning: “The American people are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ They’re not asking, ‘Where in the hell the tax returns are?’”

TRAIL MOMENTS
The political bites of the day

– Boehner uses profanity to bash Obama on middle class –
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER ON OBAMA: “I think the president’s attack on the private sector in America is exactly what’s wrong with this administration. Doesn’t give a damn about the middle class Americans who are out there looking for work. What he’s trying to do is distract the American people in order to win his own reelection.”

– White House responds –
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING: “I had not heard that comment. I would simply say that the president’s focus from day one in office has been on the middle class, has been on restoring the security that had been eroding for the middle class for a decade in this country. All of his domestic initiatives are focused principally on the middle class.”

– Syria “spinning out of control,” Panetta says –
DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA BRIEFING REPORTERS: “It's obvious that, that what is happening in Syria represents a real escalation in the fighting and that all of the concerns that we've expressed about the need for Assad to step down, the need for a peaceful transition, the need to achieve a peaceful solution, that by ignoring those appeals by the international community, that the violence there has only gotten worse and the loss of life has only increased - which tells us that this is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control.”

– Weiner’s non-Shermanesque statement –
IN INTERVIEW WITH PEOPLE MAGAZINE, FORMER REP. ANTHONY WEINER DOES NOT DENY NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL INTEREST: “I can’t say absolutely that I will never run for public office again, but I’m very happy in my present life. I’m not doing anything to plan a campaign…. The only next dramatic steps I'm planning on are [6-month-old son] Jordan's first.”

– Bush has “no desire for fame and power any more” –
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE HOOVER INSTITUTION: “Eight years was awesome, and I was famous and I was powerful but I have no desire for fame and power any more. I don’t want to undermine our president, whoever is president, and a former president can do that, and I think it’s bad for the presidency itself. And so I’m pretty content. The afterlife – really what she [his wife, Laura] should have said was we’re now getting ready to start a new chapter in our life - afterlife being the afterlife of the presidency - but afterlife kind of gives the sense that you’re dead. And I have found that life after the presidency is awesome.”

– Note to Veep Wannabees: Woo Ann Romney –
ANN ROMNEY TALKS TO ABC NEWS: “We are certainly talking a lot. This last week, this last weekend, there was a lot of discussion…. There was a lot of talk. We're not quite there yet. And we're going to be there soon.”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

TRIVIA ANSWER

President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act establishing the Department of Agriculture in May, 1862. The next year, Commissioner of Agriculture Isaac Newton submitted his first report to the president, waxing poetic on the importance of agriculture to the nation:

Agriculture furnishes the food of the nation, the raw materials of manufactures, and the cargoes of domestic and foreign commerce. It is the cause and the evidence of true civilization; for, when tillage, begins barbarism ends, and the various arts commence. When agriculture prospers, all other interests prosper. When this fails, depression, panic, ruin, ensue. The surplus of agriculture not only allows the farmer to pay his debts and accumulate wealth, but also does the same for the nation. To increase this surplus, therefore, to develop and bring out the vast resources of our soil, and thus create new additional capital, should be the great object of the Department of Agriculture and of legislation.

GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it?)

Several answers to our trivia question correctly identified the year 1862, but misidentified the first head of the Department of Agriculture. Norman J. Coleman was the first secretary of agriculture, but the first person to head the department was Newton.

WANT TO GO TO THE CONVENTIONS?
CNN has your political ticket!

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From now through Sunday, August 5, head over to CNN.com/iReport to upload a video or photo telling CNN why you should be selected to help cover the events of the RNC or DNC alongside CNN.

The selected recipients will receive an all-expense paid trip to Tampa or Charlotte, plus VIP access to the CNN Grill and CNN’s live broadcasts, a special meet and greet with CNN talent, and more.

The winners will be announced the week of August 12. Six entries (each allowed a guest) will be selected. Visit http://www.iReport.com/conventions for more information.

GOT NEWS?
Our inbox awaits: gutcheck@cnn.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 Greg Wallace, who is filling the big shoes of the vacationing Dan Merica.


Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. CoJo

    Here is a piece of logic. John McCain states (recently) that Sarah Palin was a better choice the Romney was back in 2008. If Palin was a key reason for McCain for losing, and Palin was a better choice than Romney in a lower position, why is Romney a good choice for a higher position?

    July 18, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. mullah omar

    current vp bar is set at old, senile, nutty, gaffe-a-matic. shouldn't be too hard to find better. you're in pawlenty.

    July 18, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Obama12. Period.

    July 18, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  4. Thomas

    @CoJo
    Here is a piece of logic. John McCain states (recently) that Sarah Palin was a better choice the Romney was back in 2008. If Palin was a key reason for McCain for losing, and Palin was a better choice than Romney in a lower position, why is Romney a good choice for a higher position?

    All I know is GW Bush is enjoying his time out of office ! We all should feel happy he is gone.

    July 18, 2012 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  5. caffeine Conley

    Can anyone tell me the name of the young lady on with Neil Cavuto on Tuesday, july 17th? She was claiming that
    Sarah Palin would be a good speaker at the RNC. – And Ann Coulter. I think the guests name was Bei Bei? She is a gop political anaylist?? Just curious, wanted to get her background.

    July 18, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  6. J.V.Hodgson

    What puts gas in cars, pays mortgages, or pays health insurance premiums is jobs Mr Pawlenty. Uou know those legislative things Obama and Democrats have proposed and Republicans voted against consistently because they made a pledge to a PAC leader on taxes and Obama a 1 term president never mind the country.
    The Republican solution to everything is Tax cuts. It did not work under Bush and will not work now in this global economic crisis and worse still you propose again without the "how its paid for'.
    By the way effective corporate tax rates in America are among the lowest globally, Yes 35 % is second highest but it is all the give backs and breaks which mean the effective rate is amongst the lowest globally.
    Opposing the "paid for" AJA was completely unpatriotic, and 2/3rds of the nation in multiple polls were in favor of the tax element thereof. You cannot even stick to Your word for more than a few months = Budget act. As soon as it looms you move to repeal the bit that deals with defence and pay for it via A scotus approve Health care bill budgets.
    Just blaming Obama for everything is nonsense e.g gas prices. Read the finacial pages of the wall street journal and look at the daily reasons for changes in oil prices in the market, its 98% your much vaunted unregulated market at work and never has any President been the cause of a rise only a fall (Usually from strategic reserve usage or threat), when Libya and Iraq are back on line to almost pre war levels and shale oil will come on line (route only the issue) and new reserves being located all the time plus declining demand due to global economics especially china which was blamed for the over $100 a barrel. How come prices are not falling as Chinese and Indian demand declines... answer market speculators . By the way pump prices are declining. if the president was responsible for increases praise him for the decline!! OOooops.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    July 19, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |