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.

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soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. jon

    When you apply for a job such as the President of the United States you are required by the voter to be truthful and transparent about every aspect of your life. If the voters want the tax returns then Mitt should release them if he wants the job. If not then you are being deceptive to the American people and do not qualify for the position.

    August 18, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
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