CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 27, 2012 | 4 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: POLLS SHOW RACE REMAINS CLOSE IN CONVENTION STATES… As the Republican convention gets under way, a new survey indicates that the battle for Florida’s 29 electoral votes is extremely close. In this crucial battleground state, President Barack Obama holds a 4-point advantage: 50% to 46% over Mitt Romney. In North Carolina, the CNN/Time Magazine/ORC poll indicates a dead heat, with 48% of likely voters supporting Romney and 47% backing Obama.
Both polls are within the survey’s sampling error.
“President Obama has a huge lead in the Democratic strongholds near Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “Mitt Romney has almost as big a lead in the northern part of the state. The two men are currently battling to a draw in the I-4 corridor, where most Florida elections are won or lost.”
DEBATE PREP: FIRST ON CNN: PORTMAN TO PLAY OBAMA… Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has agreed to play the role of President Obama in debate prep sessions with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, two GOP sources tell CNN.
Portman, one of the Romney campaign's leading surrogates on the campaign trail and fundraising circuit, was approached by the campaign about the role earlier this summer and is being provided with briefing materials by top aides in Boston, one of the Republican sources told CNN.
The 1880 Republican convention took the most ballots to determine a nominee. Who was nominated, and how many ballots did it take?
MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics
Five things we are watching for in Mitt Romney's campaign
Tropical Storm Isaac has moved past Tampa, and we are closely watching to see where it tracks next. The storm is still out in the Gulf, but its impact is being felt here. If you blinked, you missed Monday’s truncated convention session. And Gov. Bobby Jindal announced just hours ago that he is staying in Louisiana as his state braces for Isaac.
We now have one eye watching the weather and the other on the Republican National Convention, where Mitt Romney hopes to make his case to the American people. Isaac, of course, will have a major effect on the next few days and Romney's prime-time speech. Still, 50,000 people are in Tampa for the convention, and Romney is now making the turn into the general election, and thus here are five things we will be looking for in the final stretch run of the campaign.
1. Can Romney get Bain back? In a presidential race where the economy is the top issue on voters' minds, can he turn his business experience back into an asset?
2. Can the Romney-Ryan ticket woo women? In the latest CNN/ORC poll, Obama had an 11-point lead among women. Romney needs to close that gap to win the White House. Ann Romney's speech will be key in this effort, and we will be watching our CNN focus groups to see how women react to the week's events.
3. Can Romney start gaining support from independent voters? In the latest CNN/ORC poll, Romney had a slight edge over Obama among independents, with 48% of that group identifying that they are leaning towards the former Massachusetts governor. Forty-five percent said they are leaning toward Obama, giving Romney a margin within the sampling error. Romney needs to at least capture the minds of independents before the crucial fall debate season.
4. Can Romney push Obama's unfavorable numbers up? The big question is whether Romney can hit Obama in a way that makes the American public doubt the sitting president. In the Republican primaries, even Romney himself admitted the president's personal affability while he tried to do this. One of Romney's most-repeated lines on the campaign trail about Obama was, "He's a nice guy, but he's in over his head."
Throughout the summer, while super PAC ads were bludgeoning him, Obama's unfavorable numbers hovered around 42%. Romney's campaign needs to continue to try to drive the president's unfavorable rating up. It's hard to beat an incumbent who has a 52% favorable rating.
5. Can Romney effectively execute points 2 through 4 while feeding his base red meat? In this election, the base's enthusiasm is key. Our latest CNN/ORC poll shows Republicans with an edge on the enthusiasm meter after being asked, “How enthusiastic would you say you are about voting for president in November: extremely enthusiastic, very enthusiastic, somewhat enthusiastic, not too enthusiastic or not at all enthusiastic?” Enthusiasm is a key barometer in predicting who will be motivated enough to get to the polls. So, Romney needs to work his base into a frenzy of anti-Obama energy so they will be sure to show up on November 6 - or earlier, if they feel so inclined.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: No more niceness: Obama, Romney try to rain on each other's parade
When President Barack Obama's campaign announced plans for a full-court press during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, this week, some veteran political watchers marked the end of an era. – Alex Mooney
Leading Drudge: Obama Does Press Interview - With Glamour Magazine...
Yet another push in President Barack Obama's soft-media strategy, unearthed this morning by WWD's Erik Maza.
Leading HuffPo: RNC 2012: Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan Woo 'Deer Hunter' Voting Bloc
Besides Hispanics and seniors, the two obvious demographic groups Romney needs to woo, there is a third he needs as well: women in the swing states of the Midwest, voters who, as President Obama once said, tend to cling to their guns (a hunting rifle) and their religion (which in the Midwest is often Catholic). – Howard Fineman
Leading Politico: Mitt Romney outlines his governing plan to POLITICO
Romney pledged to bring corporate order to the West Wing. He promised to issue a checklist for his first 100 days, similar to the printed scorecard he used in Massachusetts; treat his Cabinet like a board of directors; and try to restart the economy using the hands-on management style that made him hundreds of millions of dollars. – Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen
Leading The New York Times: At Convention, 2 Disruptions: Tropical Storm and Ron Paul
Mitt Romney’s hopes for a highly disciplined and scripted nominating convention continued to fray Monday morning as a tropical storm barreled toward New Orleans and was expected to strengthen into a hurricane. Mr. Romney’s convention organizers were also warily keeping an eye on some restive delegates, including supporters of Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who were poised to challenge parts of the convention’s rules and platform when it begins Tuesday afternoon. – Michael Shear
The political bites of the day
– Republicans at convention convene to call recess… –
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN OF THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RNC: “Ladies and gentlemen – by the authority contained in the rules adopted in the 2008 Republican National Convention. The Republican National Committee has directed that the 2012 Republican National Convention be held in Tampa, Florida starting at two o'clock pm on the 27th day of August 2012. So it is my privilege to proclaim the 2012 Republican National Convention in session an called to order.”
– Ron won’t embarrass Rand –
FORMER PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL NEWT GINGRICH IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “I think the Ron Paul people have said openly they are going to be supportive on the floor and do not expect problems. I think they worked out some things in platform in auditing the Federal Reserve and other issues important to Ron Paul. Plus, Rand Paul has played a role and does get a speech. It's unlikely that Ron Paul will want to embarrass his son in that kind of a setting.”
– ‘Everything else is secondary,’ says Alabama governor –
GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY OF ALABAMA AT A NEWS CONFERENCE ON TROPICAL STORM ISAAC: “We always have to remember that what we're trying to do is protect the lives of the people of this area. Everything else is secondary. But the lives and the safety of the people of this area are most important.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
I feel bad for the next Florida city boosters who say "yes, you can hold a giant event in our city in late summer, no worries!"
Since 1952, Pre-Convention Leader Has Won 12 of 15 Elections... #Election2012 http://bit.ly/Ro2mFe
Belief Blog editors (@CNNbelief)
8 ways religion will shape the Republican convention. What should we add? http://goo.gl/s0cj1
Aaron Gilchrist (@nbcaaron)
Smaller than expected protest near #RNC site. Quick preview clip. @nbcwashington http://yfrog.us/nldw5sehtdmvmmdvmcoqrzigz
Peter Hamby (@PeterHambyCNN)
Newt passes off this morning's Medicare lecture to a T.A. at Newt U-Hyatt campus.
Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer)
Just saw a Bill Clinton ad for Barack Obama. I guess in order to go Forward, you first have to go Backward.
Held at the Interstate Exposition Building in Chicago, the 1880 Republican National Convention was an epic standoff between Ulysses S. Grant, James G. Blaine and John Sherman.
When the first ballot was taken, no consensus could be made. Former President Grant – who didn’t even go to the convention – led with 304 votes, while Blaine had 285 and Sherman received 93. The first ballot, though, was just the beginning of what became a long night for the Republican delegates. After 34 ballots, little changes were made, and the nomination fight continued.
On the 35th ballot and sixth day, however, an odd coalition was formed the led to a consensus around James Garfield, a “dark horse” candidate and a Republican congressional leader.
Because a Grant victory would have meant a third term for the former president, the former general had a number of enemies. Anti-Grant and anti-third termers joined together with both Sherman and Blaine, and on the 36th ballot, Garfield won the nomination with 399 votes.
When Garfield, with his full beard, selected Chester Arthur, with his muttonchops, as his running mate, the presidential campaign with the best combined facial hair – in Gut Check’s opinion – came to be.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
It was a virtual tie between Kevin B Jackson (@Syranu) and Bernard Lin (@blin11592) in today’s Gut Check Trivia question competition. Both Jackson and Lin correctly tweeted that Garfield was the nominee and it took 36 ballots to get a consensus. Today is Jackson’s first trivia win – congrats!
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Romney is disgusting.