CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 28, 2012 | 8 a.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
Editor's note: This is a special morning edition of CNN's Political Gut Check that will come out twice a day for the duration of the political conventions.
BREAKING: PALIN FANS FLAMES FROM AFAR … On the eve of the roll call vote, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin stokes the legions of Ron Paul activists by questioning a Republican National Convention rule change regarding pledged delegates. Weighing in overnight on her Facebook page, Palin called the rule change an “attack on the grassroots.”
“Without the energy and wisdom of the grassroots, the GOP would not have had the historic 2010 electoral victories,” Palin wrote. “That's why the controversial rule change being debated at the RNC convention right now is so very disappointing. It's a direct attack on grassroots activists by the GOP establishment, and it must be rejected.”
In that same post, the former Alaska governor highlighted a Monday rally she attended for Kirk Adams, a Republican congressional candidate from Arizona.
In a few hours, Mitt Romney will land in Tampa, Florida, to be on hand for his wife’s prime-time address, just as Isaac heads onto the Gulf Coast.
Tuesday, which is the “real” start of the Republican National Convention, is all about optics, and we are waiting to see if the Romney campaign is forced to make another scheduling change in the next few hours because of the storm.
Republican officials expressed optimism Monday afternoon that the truncated three-day schedule would proceed but also acknowledged the reality of the unpredictability of the weather.
“I will tell you we are going to be nimble,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “If we have to do anything to incorporate some of the occurrences around this into our schedule and program ... and what that means I don't know. I can just assure you we are moving on. We're planning on having all three days. We will be nimble if we need to be.”
With that, Gut Check is moving forward, with an understanding that things could turn on a dime. Heading into Tuesday afternoon, here are five things we are looking for in the next few hours.
1.) Romney’s visit. Once Romney lands in Tampa, what is he going to do? Will he spend the day making surprise visits to key delegations - think Florida, Ohio and North Carolina (which CNN just moved to a tossup state) - and will he huddle with his staff and convention organizers to determine the best course of action if the storm gets ugly?
2.) Ron Paul supporters? Will we see a unified Republican Party during the roll call vote Tuesday afternoon, or will Ron Paul supporters seek to disrupt it? Despite the best efforts by the Paul and Romney campaigns, some of the Texas congressman’s supporters are still miffed that his name will not go into nomination and are bruised from last week’s battle over 2016 delegates.
3.) Rising women stars. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Gov. Nikki Haley and then Ann Romney herself. Yes, Chris Christie is headlining the night, but we shouldn’t overlook the opening acts. In this case, we will be watching to see how effective Ayotte and Haley are before this national audience. And if Romney will be as effective at the podium as she has been in interviews painting a more compassionate picture of her husband. Will these women deliver a message that will help the GOP candidate chip away at the gender gap?
4.) Presidential tone. What will President Barack Obama’s tone be on the campaign trail Tuesday as the storm heads onto the Gulf Coast? Will he decide to forgo politics in the name of crisis management or continue to hammer Romney? Obama’s first event is at 2:10 p.m. ET in Ames, Iowa, and 7:20 p.m. ET in Fort Collins, Colorado.
5.) Red meat watch. Will the weather change Chris Christie’s tone? If Isaac threatens severe damage, an “attack night” may backfire politically. Christie was expected to show up with a big baseball bat aimed at the president’s leadership and policies. Will he leave it in the dugout?
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Leading CNNPolitics: Dem super PAC moves away from Bain attacks
The Democratic super PAC Priorities USA said a new television spot, revealed Tuesday, was part of an effort to cast Mitt Romney's policy proposals as bad for the middle class. Previously, the group focused on Romney's time at Bain Capital, painting the Republican presidential candidate as a coldhearted job killer. The latest spot, called "Olive," features a woman who voted for Romney in the 2002 Massachusetts governor election but now supports Obama. - Kevin Liptak
Leading Drudge: Ann Romney reveals Mitt's tender side...
The account of the Romney family's battle with her disease, which was diagnosed in 1998, came on the eve of a keynote speech by the 63-year-old Mrs. Romney at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. - Peter Foster
Leading HuffPo: John Boehner backs Mitt Romney's false welfare claim
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Monday backed Mitt Romney's false charge that Obama has ended welfare work requirements. He said that the proximity of the policy to the election raised questions as to whether Obama was trying to shore up his base in advance of the election, a charge recently made by Romney and shot through with racial overtones. - Ryan Grim
Leading Politico: GOP still frets about Romney's image
Romney signaled in weekend interviews he is brushing off advice that he attempt a public image makeover this week to make himself more likable and more connected to voters at the human level. Some of the most experienced Republican strategists hope he doesn’t really mean that. - John F. Harris and Alexander Burns
Leading The New York Times: Business and political experiences pull Romney 2 ways on economy
When Romney declared during his unsuccessful campaign for the Senate in 1994 that the federal minimum wage should rise with inflation, a break with Republican doctrine, both Democrats and Republicans accused him of pandering to Massachusetts voters. Mr. Romney has now maintained that position for almost two decades, qualifying his stand as he sought the Republican presidential nomination but never relinquishing the view that inflation adjustments would be good for workers, good for employers and good for the broader economy. - Binyamin Appelbaum
HEADS UP: Tuesday from 12:45 to 1 p.m., Peter Hamby hosts "Live at the #CNNGrill" with guests Jackie Kucinich, Sasha Issenberg and Tim Miller for a political live stream. Watch at http://www.CNN.com/Live. Tweet questions to @PeterHambyCNN.
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Team Romney NM (@TeamRomneyNM) August 28, 2012
Wonder how Sarah Palin will steal attention from the GOP convention?—
David Corn (@DavidCornDC) August 26, 2012
So is the Chris Matthews-Reince Priebus make-up TV interview going to be today or tomorrow?—
Patrick W. Gavin (@pwgavin) August 28, 2012
Ryan says Obama made Afghanistan decisions based on "political timetable." But 2014 is "good reasonable timeline." Huh? bit.ly/PNhRUd—
Felicia Sonmez (@feliciasonmez) August 28, 2012
Is David Brooks remaking himself as a biting satirist? Because this is a very strong start. nytimes.com/2012/08/28/opi…—
Chris Berube (@ChrisBerube) August 28, 2012
Eric Grant (@ericgrant) August 28, 2012
Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) August 28, 2012
(Answer will be in today’s afternoon edition of Gut Check. Tweet us your answers @GutCheckCNN to get a shout-out this afternoon.)
Sixteen convention keynote speakers - both Democrats and Republicans -have gone on to run for president. Only two have won their party’s nomination. Who was the one Republican?