CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 6, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING... CHENEY BACKS OFF PALIN CRITICISM... Former vice president Dick Cheney on Monday backed off his comment that it was “a mistake” for John McCain to pick Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee in 2008, saying that his comment criticizing the pick was about McCain’s process, not Sarah Palin: "It wasn't aimed so much at Governor Palin as it was against the basic process that McCain used,” Cheney told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview tonight. “My point basically dealt with the process in terms of that basic requirement, is this person prepared to step in to be president of the United States when they're picked? And it was my judgment — I was asked if I thought the McCain process in '08 had been well done or was it a mistake and I said I thought it was a mistake. That's not...meant so much as a criticism of Governor Palin as it is that I just thought it was not — the process didn't meet the standards I would like to see our candidate pursue when they pick a — a running mate."
Gut Check Flashback: Dick Cheney to ABC’s Jonathan Karl on July 29th, asked about how McCain handled his Vice Presidential selection: “That one I don’t think was well handled…. I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. Attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”
Gut Check Context: Dick Cheney is now back in alignment with his daughter, Liz Cheney, who publicly disagreed with her father over his ABC statement, and positioned herself as a Republican politician who understands the value of Sarah Palin.
@Liz_Cheney’s tweet on July 29th:
Rarely do I disagree with best VP ever but @SarahPalinUSA more qualified than Obama and Biden combined. Huge respect 4 all she's done 4 GOP.
VEEP WATCH: Two sources with knowledge of Mitt Romney’s bus tour starting Saturday tell CNN that among those accompanying Romney will be Gov. Bob McDonnell in Virginia, Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio and Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida.
MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics
Mitt Romney went grocery shopping today.
It was interesting to watch a candidate in a plebian setting, of course politicized because of the timing, just like when Michelle Obama popped up in a Target to kick off the campaign photo season. Or when President Barack Obama went to Best Buy to Christmas shop.
The common denominator in these trips seem to be swing states with cash registers. The Obamas both chose Virginia. Romney chose New Hampshire - and specifically the neighborhood of Wolfeboro in Carroll County, which calls itself “the Jewel of Lake Winnipesaukee” and boasts about its “friendly neighborhood supermarket.”
Romney, shopping under a sign that read “Native sweet corn 2 for $1.00,” is of course interesting even upon sight. Romney is in a battle to redefine himself (again) after the brutal summer onslaught from Team Obama portraying Romney as a man more concerned with his net worth than your Safeway special.
The press corps trailing Romney at Hunters Shop ‘n Save asked the candidate if he was going to do the cooking tonight. “Absolutely,” Romney said. Minutes later, Romney clarified with a self-deprecating grin, “I’ll make my own dinner. That’s not exactly cooking.”
Grocery stores have of course been full of political history, most famously in February 1992, when The New York Times documented with aching detail the confrontation that would become an albatross around the Republican ticket for the entire campaign, George H.W. Bush’s first sighting of a supermarket scanner. “Bush Encounters the Supermaket, Amazed” blared the headline on the front page of The New York Times.
“The career politician, who has lived the cloistered life of a top Washington bureaucrat for decades, is having trouble presenting himself to the electorate as a man in touch with middle-class life,” wrote Andrew Rosenthal, who quoted Bush telling the grocers he was “amazed by some of the technology.” Rosenthal then pointed out that “some grocery stores began using electronic scanners as early as 1976, and the devices have been in general use in American supermarkets for a decade.”
Today, with the economy sputtering along, the supermarket is once again ripe to learning about the middle class.
For the first time since 1987, the Gallup organization revisited a question that it had regularly asked Americans since 1943, “How much do you spend on groceries?” As in all things in this election, the average ($151 a week) is not what is the most interesting, but rather the gap between the bottom and the top: On one end of the scale, 8% of respondents said their family spends less than $50 a week, while on the other, 10% spend more than $300 in the same time period.
“The increases in weekly food spending over time largely reflect the impact of inflation,” Gallup writes. “After adjusting prior years' data for inflation to 2012 dollars, Americans are spending less on food now than in the past.”
The other number that has remained steady since the 1980s is the number of Americans who ate at home vs. eating out at a restaurant. Roughly 77% of Americans are likely to eat dinner at home tonight.
Just like Mitt Romney.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: Why political conventions still matter
Although the days when conventions played a central role in shaping a political party are long gone, party conventions still matter and have a role in national political debate. - Julian Zelizer
Leading Drudge: Sikh Shooter ID: Army Vet
Authorities tell CBS News that the shooter behind the deadly massacre at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin Sunday has been identified as 40-year-old Wade Michael Page. – CBS & AP
Leading HuffPo: Temple Shooter ID'd As Army Vet
The suspect in the Sikh temple shooting who killed six in Wisconsin on Sunday has been identified as 40-year-old Wade Michael Page.
Leading Politico: Warren: Dem convention plus or minus?
Elizabeth Warren’s prime-time speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention is a high-reward move for the Massachusetts Senate candidate. – Maggie Haberman
Leading The New York Times: Outside Cash in Missouri Race Could Be a National Model
Missouri’s long, divisive Republican Senate primary draws to a close Tuesday, but after all the intraparty fireworks, it is the incumbent Democrat, Senator Claire McCaskill, who remains in deep trouble. – Jonathan Weisman LINK
Early this morning, the Mars rover Curiosity landed on the red planet, beginning what is expected to be a 98-day mission. What president signed the act that created NASA?
The political bites of the day
– Obama speaks on need to “reduce violence” without mentioning guns–
OBAMA TO REPORTERS IN WASHINGTON: “Yesterday, I had a chance to speak to both the governor and mayor as well as leaders of Sikh community of Oak Creek, all of us are heartbroken at what has happened and I offered the thoughts and prayers not only of Michelle and I, but the country as a whole. I think all of us recognize that these kinds of terrible tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul searching and examine additional ways we can reduce violence. As I’ve already said, I think there are a lot of elements to bring together law enforcement, community leaders, faith leaders, officials of every level to see how we can continue progress. We don't yet know fully what motivated this individual to carry out this terrible act. If it turns out as some early reports indicated that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of those who were attending the temple, I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes and I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that in this country regardless of what we look like and where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people and we look after one another and we respect one another.”
– Bloomberg gets specific in discussing violence -
NEW YORK CITY MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG OUTSIDE A QUEENS SIKH COMMUNITY CENTER: “Just two weeks after the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, we've seen another mass shooting. One in which it appears there were some warning signs in the shooter. And still the two presidential candidates have not given the American public a plan to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. The fact that criminals, terrorists and other mentally ill people have access to guns is a national crisis."
– Priebus invents a new term as he “triples down” on his Reid charge –
IN AN INTERVIEW ON FOX NEWS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN REINCE PRIEBUS: “There’s no triple down in blackjack, but I’ll triple down on my comments from yesterday. So speaking of Las Vegas. It’s just the truth, I mean the fact - what else do you call somebody who goes onto the Senate floor and claims that someone hasn’t paid any taxes in 10 years. A complete lie. Uses his official office to do it. And we all get it. He’s just playing this game and you know it’s amazing to me that there can be any honor in a position that he holds that he’s degraded so far down the tubes. So it is what it is. He’s a dirty liar, and we’re moving on. We’re moving on to defeating this president and saving this country.”
GUT CHECK FLASHBACK: SUNDAY ON ABC NEWS: “And as far as Harry Reid is concerned, listen, I know you might want to go down that road, I'm not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn't filed a single page of tax returns himself.”
– White House: Bashar al-Assad losing his grip –
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT MONDAY’S BRIEFING: “As we have seen more and more high-level defections, this is a sign that Assad’s grip on power is loosening. If he cannot maintain cohesion within his own inner circle, it reflects on his ability to maintain any following among the Syrian people that isn’t brought about at the point of a gun. The momentum is with the opposition and with the Syrian people. It is clear that these defections are reaching the highest levels of the Syrian government and Assad cannot restore his control over the country because the Syrian people will not allow it.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act on July 29, 1958. He spoke about space as a special place in terms of both exploration and politics.
“Technology … has brought forth terrifying weapons of destruction, which for the future of civilization, must be brought under control through a workable system of disarmament. And it has also opened up a new world of outer space - a celestial world filled with both bewildering problems and dazzling promise. … The emergence of this new world poses a vital issue: Will outer space be preserved for peaceful use and developed for the benefit of all mankind? Or will it become another focus for the arms race - and thus an area of dangerous and sterile competition? … The nations of the world have recently united in declaring the continent of Antarctica ‘off limits’ to military preparations. We could extend this principle to an even more important sphere. National vested interests have not yet been developed in space or in celestial bodies. Barriers to agreement are now lower than they will ever be again,” Eisenhower said in his remarks to the United Nations in 1960.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
There were no correct answers today, but one submission of Millard Fillmore, the nation’s 13th president who left the White House 50 years before the Wright Brothers’ first flight. Check our Twitter (@GutCheckCNN) tomorrow afternoon for a new question, and better luck.
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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.