CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 15, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
FORMER DEMOCRAT ARTUR DAVIS COMPARES BIDEN TO PAST SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS… In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on “CNN’s The Situation Room,” Artur Davis reacts to Biden’s “chains” comment from Tuesday: “When I heard him reach to the bottom of the deck and talk about one party putting people in chains, when I heard someone that I admired and had been on platforms with talk about ordinary conservative principles as being essential racial viciousness, because that’s the allegation he was making yesterday, I was disappointed by it. But I have to tell you, it brought back memories to me. It brought back memories of these Democratic politicians in the South who think they can go before black crowds and say one thing, that nobody else will hear it and that they can somehow get a cheer in the room and that they can go on about their business.”
Martin Sheen played Captain Benjamin L. Willard in the groundbreaking movie “Apocalypse Now,” which was released on this day in 1979. Sheen, however, was not the first choice for the role. What actor passed on the movie?
It is hard to ignore the vitriol that exists between the Romney and Obama campaigns. It might actually extend to the two candidates, something we will be watching for in the coming days – and especially on the fall debate nights.
The intensity of rhetoric that we have heard in the past 24 hours from Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is something we wouldn’t be surprised to hear in the closing weeks of the election, not in the dog days of summer.
But here we are as Biden is accused of using coded racial language, Obama cites Seamus the dog, and Romney on two occasions accuses the Obama campaign of taking the race to an all-time low.
Let’s start with Biden, whose comments in Virginia on Tuesday were viewed by some people as out of line.
“Look at what they value and look at their budget and what they are proposing,” Biden said at a rally in Danville. “Romney wants to let – he said in the first 100 days – he is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. He is going to put you all back in chains.”
There were African-Americans in the audience at Biden’s speech. The Romney campaign pounced on the vice president. A Romney spokeswoman said his choice of words was “not acceptable.”
Then Romney himself weighed in on Biden’s remarks Tuesday afternoon, making this more than just a war of words between campaign spokesmen.
“Everywhere I go in America there are monuments that list those who have given their lives for liberty,” Romney said at a campaign stop in Chillicothe, Ohio. “There is no mention of their race, their party affiliation or what they did for a living. They lived and died under a single flag, fighting for a single purpose. They pledged allegiance to the United States of America. So, Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America."
Romney didn’t back off his criticism on Wednesday morning in a CBS interview. “The president's campaign is all about division and attack and hatred,” Romney said.
Obama, on the other hand, has taken to the attack with language more often reserved for the late night comics, trying to maintain his personal popularity while simultaneously cutting down his competition. His focus? Seamus, a dog who will go down in history for the seat he had during a Romney family road trip to Canada: on the roof. At a campaign stop in Iowa, Obama used the Seamus story to take a political poke at Romney – for an event that took place on a Romney family trip in 1983.
Chains, Seamus and hatred, three words that have defined the past 24 hours in this campaign. And it is only August.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Romney repeats his claim of hatred in Obama's campaign
President Barack Obama wraps up a three-day bus tour of Iowa on Wednesday under steady attack from Republican rival Mitt Romney over Medicare reforms and what Romney contends is the president's divide-and-conquer campaign strategy. – Tom Cohen
Leading Drudge: Romney Soars With Young Voters
For the first time since he began running for president, Republican Mitt Romney has the support of over 40 percent of America's youth vote, a troubling sign for President Obama who built his 2008 victory with the overwhelming support of younger, idealistic voters. – Paul Bedard
Leading HuffPo: Ann Romney: No More Tax Returns Will Be Released
In an interview with NBC set to air Thursday, Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said her husband's campaign will not release any additional tax returns to the public ahead of the election. – Dave Jamieson
Leading Politico: A tale of two chairmen
It’s a tale of two chairmen. One worked his district hard, pounding the pavement to make it to early morning Rotary Club breakfasts, filling and then emptying his campaign coffers, and airing a flight of slickly produced TV ads defending his record and tearing into his opponent. – Alex Isenstadt, Burgess Everett and Andrew Restuccia
Leading The New York Times: Utility’s Role in Convention Tests Obama
When Charlotte first emerged as the top contender to host the Democratic convention, its lead cheerleader was James E. Rogers, the outspoken chief executive of the hometown utility, Duke Energy. He promised to be a public face and a private fund-raiser for the effort. – Jim Rutenberg
Leading Security Clearance: Can the military save America’s ranchers?
As the nation's ranches and farms endure one of the most severe droughts in decades, the Obama administration has ordered the Pentagon to look into purchasing a "second helping" of all things meat. Economists and political analysts who spoke to CNN's Security Clearance, however, aren't optimistic that the administration's plan will bring much relief to the livestock industry, though it may help Obama politically. – Jennifer Rizzo
The political bites of the day
– Pawlenty – always the bridesmaid, never the bride, still working it –
TIM PAWLENTY IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “This should be a campaign about the bread and butter meat and potato issues facing the country and for most Americans that's jobs. President Obama has had a chance for four years. We have this anemic sputtering economy. It hasn't worked. So we should be debating Mitt Romney’s vision for how he's going to make it better. And this back and forth doesn't do either side or the country as well as it could.”
– VPOTUS clearly relishes his bluntness –
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A CAMPAIGN STOP IN VIRGINIA: “I know I am sometimes criticized for saying exactly what I mean. It's not going to change. Let me tell you something, Barack Obama does exactly what he says he's going to do. You don't have to worry about Barack Obama changing positions midstream, you don't have to worry about Barack Obama fundamentally flopping and flipping on the important issues of the day.”
– Two birds, one stone: Mack attacks Obama, Nelson on Medicare –
REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE REP. CONNIE MACK OF FLORIDA ON A CONFERENCE CALL: “There’s only two people that have voted to gut Medicare and that’s Barack Obama and Sen. Nelson. They took $700 billion out of Medicare to pay for Obamacare. What Mitt Romney has said is that we're going to repeal Obamacare and restore that funding. So I think President Obama and Sen. Nelson are kind of living in glass houses right now and they’re playing catch with rocks.”
– Women Voters: Obama gets sentimental when talking about Michelle –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN IOWA: “I am just reminded how lucky I am because she is a woman of strength and integrity and honor. She keeps me straight every single day. She is the best mom in the world and she is cute! And the problem is sometimes when I listen to her talk I get all choked up and I forget what I am going to say. But I could not be prouder of her. I say often – back in 2008 I say look, I am not a perfect man. I won’t be a perfect president. I do think she is a perfect first lady. I just want you to know that.”
– Leno resurrects past comedic punching bag… Sarah Palin –
JAY LENO JOKES ON HIS LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Ever since it was announced that Sarah Palin will not be speaking at the Republican convention, the Romney campaign has been flooded with thousands of texts and e-mails demanding she be allowed to speak - all from President Obama.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
This campaign season is just straight up awful—
Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) August 15, 2012
Democrat Patrick Murphy reveals his strategy for beating Allen West in November: Allen West huff.to/Pn1rVK—
jennifer bendery (@jbendery) August 15, 2012
Anonymous GOPers quoted fearing Ryan pick, but some Dems tell me they fear him, too: youth, focus, $, "idea man" cover for attacking govt—
Howard Fineman (@howardfineman) August 15, 2012
Fortune Magazine (@FortuneMagazine) August 15, 2012
Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) August 15, 2012
Think about all the classic lines from “Apocalypse Now”: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” “The horror... the horror...,” and “Never get out of the boat."
That last line was delivered by Martin Sheen’s character, Capt. Benjamin L. Willard. Though Sheen received critical acclaim for his portrayal of the Vietnam War Army officer, he was not the movie’s first choice. According to media reports, actor Steve McQueen was the first actor to be offered the role.
The film, which chronicles Willard’s job to kill a U.S. colonel, played by Marlon Brando, who is believed to have gone insane, received six Oscar nominations and won two. The gritty portrayal of the Vietnam War captivated audiences and “Apocalypse Now” became a commercial success – even if it was nagged by delays and budget issues.
When the media reported on those issues, Francis Ford Coppola went on the attack and after the film first screened in Cannes – to much hype – the director remarked, “My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam.”
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