CNN’s GUT CHECK for August 17, 2012
August 17th, 2012
05:04 PM ET
6 years ago

CNN’s GUT CHECK for August 17, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 17, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

DEVELOPING: CHICAGO CONTINUES TO PRESS BOSTON ON TAXES President Barack Obama's campaign sought to turn up the pressure Friday on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, offering to back off on their calls for the release of additional years of returns if he agrees to disclose five years of tax information.

The debate continued at Friday’s White House briefing, where Josh Earnest, the principal deputy press secretary, took a barrage of questions on Romney’s tax returns. During the questioning, Earnest tried to direct the pressure on Romney, not the White House.

“I'm certainly not making any accusations, all I'm pointing out is all the questions you are asking could be answered before the end of the day today, but that will require Gov. Romney to live up to a standard that's been met by every other major party presidential candidate since his father ran for president in 1968,” Earnest said.

(Answer below)
Who said, "Even presidents have private lives," on this day in history?

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

We often parse words, but today we are going to parse images.

After one week of the Romney-Ryan ticket, we wanted to honor our Friday tradition of checking in with masters of the political class to see how the rollout of Mitt Romney’s running mate registered with three of the best ad makers in politics.

Alex Castellanos, partner at National Media Inc., Alexandria, Virginia
“The CEO hasn't just added a CFO to the ticket, he's added a real partner. They've made a personal connection. Romney seems more complete now. Also, in some ways, Romney has been a transitional figure for Republicans, between the old Bush generation and the next generation of Republicans. By adding a gen-X ‘new Republican’ to the ticket, he's given himself an opportunity to drive his campaign into the future. That's something his campaign lacked. … Proof: I think you are going to see them campaign together a lot more.”

Fred Davis, CEO of Strategic Perception Inc., Hollywood, California
“At first I was skeptical, Romney seemed to have thrown the long ball. But, after viewing ‘60 Minutes’ Sunday, of all things, I noticed something else. Mitt was – for the first time in years – relaxed, pleasant, comfortable in his own skin. I think he really likes Paul Ryan, and is grateful for his help and enthusiasm. So, I think it's possible the greatest thing Paul will do for Mitt is make him a better and more acceptable candidate. So, I think they are off to a good start, so far.”

Bill Hillsman, founder of North Woods Advertising in Minneapolis, Minnesota
“I agree with Fred. I think Romney would have been comfortable and more at ease with any of the finalists. But Portman and Pawlenty were bland (Portman may have helped deliver Ohio, but he wouldn't be very good in an attack role; and Pawlenty, while totally willing, seems really inauthentic in the role. Plus, Pawlenty couldn't deliver Minnesota, and Ryan might deliver Wisconsin).

“Romney gets more love from the conservative base and fiscal conservatives with the choice, along with some glamour that's irresistible to the press.

“What I'm most impressed with, though, is the way the Romney and Ryan ticket seems to have thought this through. Ryan could have been a liability in Florida (and may still be), but they were ready for that and Ryan has handled it in a very adept way with the quote about his mom.

“This is going to be a very tight and very, very, VERY negative campaign. Likeability is going to matter in the end with swing voters (of which both campaigns believe there are none, but my prediction is the race gets so negative that it WILL come back to independent/swing voters, who will punish the less likeable and most negative campaign). So any positives that help shine a light into the election are good for that side, and Ryan looks like a strong positive right now.

“Finally, if you just compare VP candidates, who would you rather have on your side after this past week? Paul Ryan, or (gulp!) Joe Biden?”

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Both sides using 'attack strength' strategy
"Attack the strength" tactics have been a staple of this year's presidential race, with both sides trying to undermine perceived advantages of the other. – Tom Cohen

Leading Drudge: Report: Hillary Said No
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was pressed by her husband and a top Obama aide to consider replacing Vice President Joe Biden just a couple of weeks ago, claims the author of the New York Times bestseller "The Amateur." – Paul Bedard

Leading HuffPo: Jan Brewer Immigration Order Met With Criticism, Protests
Jan Brewer sparked outrage Wednesday when she issued an executive order denying benefits to young undocumented immigrants, defying President Obama's deferred action program. – Mollie Reilly

Leading Politico: Fit for office: Candidates in best shape ever
The quartet appears to make up the most workout-obsessed Republican and Democratic tickets in U.S. history. So to put it bluntly — sorry, America — this year’s physically fit presidential and vice-presidential candidates look absolutely nothing like America. (To wit: A new Gallup poll released Thursday revealed that — in all 50 states — the majority of adults are overweight or obese). – Patrick Gavin

Leading The New York Times: The Lowest Common Denominator and the 2012 Race for President
For about, oh, two minutes, there was talk last weekend that the debate dominating the presidential race would take on a more elevated tone now that Mitt Romney had selected an avowed fiscal hawk, Representative Paul D. Ryan, as his running mate. – Jim Rutenberg

The political bites of the day

- Democrats now call Ryan a ‘crazy radical’ -
DEMOCRAT STEVEN HORSFORD, A CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE IN NEVADA, ON A STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONFERENCE CALL: “Ryan budget makes deep cuts to Pell grants, kicks nearly 200,000 kids off of Head Start. He is quite a crazy radical because only a crazy radical could support gutting Head Start, privatizing Social Security, and only a crazy radical would want to end Medicare as we know it.”

- Ryan campaigns for votes, says change isn’t impossible -
VICE PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL PAUL RYAN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN VIRGINIA: “We have a big choice to make… and it's not too late to get right. We can stay on the path that we are on, the path that President Obama has continued us down. Which is a nation further in debt, further in doubt, a nation going into decline. Or we can get it right, reapply our principles, get us back on the right track.”

- Obama team: 'We feel good' about Wisconsin -
JEN PSAKI, OBAMA CAMPAIGN TRAVELING PRESS SECRETARY, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “We know this race is going to be decided in a handful of states. We feel good about our campaign in Wisconsin. We've had a grassroots organization there since the president ran the last time. We have a great group of supporters there. We're going to be spending some time there, I bet.” LINK

- Noodling at Red Lobster -
DAVID LETTERMAN JOKES ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Paul Ryan likes to catch a catfish bare-handed. Anybody ever done that? Actually, he'll wade into a river and catch with his bare hands, take just a giant and pull it out with his bare hands. Chris Christie likes to reach into the tank at Red Lobster.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

SOCIAL WATCH: Less than a week after the Romney-Ryan campaign launched, the page has surpassed one million "likes.” Houston, Texas is the most popular city among the page's fans and the most popular age demographic is 45-54 years-old. By comparison, Vice President Joe Biden's Facebook page ( has 359,341 likes. New York, N.Y., is the most popular city among the Biden page's fans and the most popular age demographic is 25-34 years-old.


In a four minute address to the nation, then President Bill Clinton broke seven months of near silence and admitted that he did, in fact, have an inappropriate and "wrong" relationship with ex-White House intern Monica Lewinsky. During the address, he insisted that he did nothing illegal.

"I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife," Clinton said, his voice breaking slightly. "I deeply regret that."

In possibly the most powerful moment of the address, Clinton discussed the scandal going forward, stating that the Lewinsky scandal was going to be a family matter.

"But it is private, and I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It's nobody's business but ours," Clinton said. "Even presidents have private lives."

The address came just hours after Clinton became the first president to testify before the Office of Independent Council on a matter investigating the president. According to CNN reporting from the day, though the first lady did not appear with her husband during his speech, she did have a hand in crafting the remarks.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to Rich Killion (@nhkillion) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Killion, who is a well respected New Hampshire Republican strategist and, like Preston, a suffering member of Red Sox Nation, correctly answered that President Clinton said those words on this day in history. Congrats Rich.

Our inbox awaits:
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing
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.

Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Lamar

    I don't think that I can trust Mr. Romney if he does not show his 10 or 5 years income tax returns. What could be in his returns and why can't he disclose it. I really want to try and vote for he may be able to turn around the economy. But to trust to a person is more important. I'm sorry.

    August 17, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. True GOP Color

    This from Yahoo! NEWS today:

    After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.

    As recently as Wednesday in Ohio, Mitt Romney's running mate told ABC's Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, he did not.

    "I never asked for stimulus," Ryan said. "I don't recall… so I really can't comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn't work, it didn't work."

    Two years ago, during an interview on WBZ's NewsRadio he was asked by a caller if he "accepted any money" into his district. Ryan said he did not.

    "I'm not one [of those] people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money," the congressman answered.

    But as we've now learned, Ryan did write letters. He did request stimulus funds.

    August 17, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. CanadaONE

    DO YOU NOTICE that both of their NOSES ARE RATHER LONG ?

    does that mean they LIE ALOT?

    They also buy the same shirts from the Cayman Islands – you see you do not pay taxes there!

    August 17, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Honest American

    I just read this on Yahoo! News about Ryan, the future VP wannabe. His dishonesty makes me disgusted with this typical GOP politician who would say ANYTHING, ANY LIE to get our votes.

    Read this excerpt from Yahoo! News:

    "After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.

    As recently as Wednesday in Ohio, Mitt Romney's running mate told ABC's Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, he did not.

    'I never asked for stimulus,' Ryan said. 'I don't recall… so I really can't comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn't work, it didn't work.'

    Two years ago, during an interview on WBZ's NewsRadio he was asked by a caller if he "accepted any money" into his district. Ryan said he did not.

    'I'm not one [of those] people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money,' the congressman answered.

    But as we've now learned, Ryan did write letters. He did request stimulus funds."

    August 17, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Nothing says "bromance" like "I'll flip flop for you if you flip flop for me."

    August 17, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Mitt Robme and Paul Rightwinger are liars! CNN, you and FOXNEWS covered the Obama Rev wright connection for days and nights, but the Paul Ryan Ayan Rand connection doesnt hardly get a nod! Is is because President Obama is Black and Paul Ryan is a White repulican! Also, Ihave not heard or seen anything on Jim Greer's statement that the GOP is blocking minority voters in Florida and the rest of the nation! Also, why was the Tea party, Trump and others allowed so much press and coverage when they demanded to see our presidents birth certificate, but its too much to ask that Mitt Romney reveal his tax forms! President Obama showed 5 years!

    August 17, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. granny

    hey Lamar you elected a president not knowing one single thing about his education, family or the marxist friends he had

    August 17, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. Honest American

    OK. So, let's see what we have here from GOP.

    We have a super rich future President wannabe guy who for some strange reasons stubbornly refuses to make public just five more of his past tax returns. And his recently-announced running mate, a future VP wannabe, is a big-time deceiver who is showing a sign of dementia!!!

    August 17, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. granny

    canadaone we have an accomplished liar in the wh now does big ears count for anything

    August 17, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. ron

    Yep, granny, big ears do count for something: they can hear romney hood's BS before it hits the ground. That's why he's always a few steps ahead of romney hood!

    August 17, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |

    Dumb and dumber,the best the Gop cancer on America bafoons party could come up with ,a tax cheat and teaparty extremest hot dog clown car driver . Hot dog clowns car wreck coming in Nov !!!!!!!

    August 17, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. Tyrone

    I King Tabby nackle got away with a CRIME of EXTORTION when I fileed as a Utah Resident while living in Mass. Thats peanuts compared to my secret tax havens around the World. Those Non – Millionaire Peasants have no buniness looking into my past returns, For I am The King of the Momans & I though Shall not stup to those of meak incomes. I am a Very Very special Man!!!!!!!!! God bless the tax evaders!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    I don't think that I can trust Mr. Romney if he does not show his 10 or 5 years income tax returns. What could be in his returns and why can't he disclose it.
    You really get pulled into that personal attack brand of Obama politics, don't you? Axelrod promised Obama there would be people just like you. Even in modern America you do exist.

    August 17, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    When man first stumbled out of the Jungle and peered into the star filled sky he wondered "Is there any intelligent life at CNN" .

    August 17, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  15. geggyg

    Repubs and teabaggers say about increased surveilanceand loss of privacy that if you nothing to hide then why complain and refuse the same with romney and ryan , if they have nothing to hide , realease the tax forms

    August 17, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  16. sharon

    CNN only talks to Republican consultants (about Ryan)? Biased much?

    August 17, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  17. Tim

    Stop talking about romney's tax return and talk about jobs . Romney's tax return will not pay my bills

    August 17, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. Richard

    When will we begin to address the issue the country faces instead of who payed what on their taxes, our what stupid statement Joe made this week. I got a idea lets hear a plan to end the 8.2 unemployment As opposed to the 4.7 unemployment under Bush who we all agree was a looser, or how about how to get rid of the crazy spending, maybe how to help our home values return to what they were worth as opposed to being valued at 1/2 the orginal value. Maybe we could see the Bankers go to Jail that caused that mess. Perhaps we could focus on bringing Dow the debt of 15 trillion dollars which is up by 9 trillion since the President got elected. I guess my question is who can run this country and I don't care if he is black white green pink orange? So far neither of the 2 present loosers running seem to be able to address the issue let alone run the country or fix the issue we face.

    August 17, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  19. Thor4

    It is a sorry state of affairs when the GOP has two lying, coniving politicians vying for the top positions in the White House. Romney and Ryan are an embarrasment to the country. It seems that these two have the idea that Americans are complete fools. People out there – prove them wrong !!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  20. Reggie Govtal

    So, I see "Honest" American writes that Romney refuses to make his tax records public and that should make him unelectable. Wow. We have a president who has sealed his life records; spent millions of dollars doing so and YOU think Romney needs to show us something. Kool Aid can kill, Mr. "Honest" American. Don't drink it. Trust me, you won't like the end results. It is bad for EVERYONE. You, included.

    August 17, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  21. Leftcoastrocky

    When Romney picked Ryan he went against the advice of his advisers, and went with his "gut" and with the approval of his wife and five boys.

    In the event that Romney is elected, will he go against the advice of his advisers (Secretaries of State/Defense, generals, others) on foreign policy/military matters (where he has absolutely NO experience/background/knowledge) and listen to his gut? If so, God help us.

    August 17, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  22. The Vet

    I have a small business that delivers a fine service and i am struggling to make payroll. We need a tax break and I am troubled by all the bickering about political personalities. Who cares about such nonsense when our livelihood is under assault by a bunch of politicians who live off of us? Washington, just leave us alone. We are free to succeed or to fail. That's freedom and it takes guts and hard work. Maybe you want to vote for someone who will steal from me to pay you. I have come to the conclusion that most conservatives are the small business people who create jobs and personal wealth. Liberals seem to be interested in how they can use government to enrich themselves. That's bad morals. And it's stealing.

    August 18, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  23. Jersey Girl

    The VoucherCare team, too funny! It would be karma if they only get 1 percent of the vote come November. Come on, folks, we can do it!!

    August 18, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  24. Jersey Girl

    I can only imagine that pretty soon Willard will wish he had never chosen Ryan to be his running mate...and Ryan will wish he had never said yes, because when they lose in November, there goes his chance of running for the presidency in the year 2020, and forget about 2016!

    August 18, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  25. Bren

    Just reported in newspapers throughout the country yesterday--the unemployment rate has gone up in 44 states. And, 9 of those states with increased unemployment rates are battleground states!! I can guarantee you that the majority of voters are concerned about and want to know what Obama has done with THEIR money-not what Romney did with his OWN money!!!!

    August 18, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
1 2