CNN's GUT CHECK | for September 3, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING: “ARE YOU BETTER OFF THAN YOU WERE 4 YEARS AGO,” DEMOCRATS SEARCH FOR AN ANSWER… Democrats tried to massage their message a day before their convention after some top Obama advisers on Sunday talk shows struggled with whether voters were better off since President Barack Obama took office.
David Axelrod, a senior Obama campaign adviser, in an interview with Fox News Sunday: “I think the average American recognizes that it took years to create the crisis that erupted in 2008 and peaked in January of 2009… And it's going to take some time to work through it.”
Sunday on CBS, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley answered “no” to the question – a comment that Republicans jumped on.
However, O'Malley in an interview with CNN’s “Starting Point”: “We are clearly better offer as a country because we're creating jobs rather than losing them. We have not recovered all that we lost in the Bush recession. That's why we need to continue to move forward.”
And, as he usually does, Vice President Joe Biden addressed the question in his own way.
Biden at a campaign event in Detroit, Michigan today: “America is better off today than they left us when they left. … You want to know whether we are better off? … Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is Alive!”
Chicago has hosted the most political conventions – both Democratic and Republican – in history. When was the first convention in Chicago and who was nominated?
With the Democratic National Convention starting tomorrow, we wanted to catch up with CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin, who has just finished interviewing the president, his top aides and adversaries as part of a groundbreaking documentary on President Barack Obama that premieres tonight on CNN at 8 p.m. ET.
What surprised you most about Barack Obama?
I was surprised by his caffeine intake, information courtesy Reggie Love. Watch the documentary to find out more.
Did the president talk about his relationships with Congress or Republicans?
If anyone thinks the president is not a great transactional politician, he set the record straight in my interview, saying he’s really just being a good Dad. He said the time he carves out to be with his family is often perceived, by those in the Beltway, as an unwillingness to socialize with members of Congress. Really, he said, he has prioritized time with his wife and two daughters.
However, in a second term, when his daughters will be a bit older, he said he hopes both sides of the political aisle will make more of an effort with the other.
“I’m sure it will require additional efforts on my part,” Obama said. “Hopefully we’ll see more effort on the other side as well.”
You talked to many of the president’s closest advisers. Four years in, do they feel successful?
Larry Summers, Austan Goolsbee and Christina Romer all said the administration’s efforts helped keep the nation out of anther Great Depression. But Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, said they felt Republicans organized against them from Day One, even during the financial crisis, something he said Democrats did not do in 2008.
It seems the administration has learned lessons about how to move their agenda forward that would make the president’s governing style a little different in a second term.
Was there a moment that didn’t make it into the final product that you especially liked?
Reggie Love, who served as the president’s personal aide on the campaign trail in 2008 and in the White House, said there is a suit he will not wear to this day because of the president’s reaction the first time he wore it to work.
“I have a suit to this day that I wore once, and I have not worn again because … he told me, he said it looked like something that people wear on ‘Miami Vice,’” Love said. “I thought it was a sharp suit, and it’s hidden away in my closet now.”
GUT CHECK DVR: “Obama Revealed: The Man, The President” airs tonight, Monday, September 3, from 8:00pm to 9:30pm ET & PT, the night before the Democratic National Convention begins in Charlotte, North Carolina, and includes fascinating new interviews with Obama and many of his closest advisers - including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: John King: To win, Obama must make history again
Four years ago, it was a groundbreaking victory for the first African-American to win the presidency. Now, to win four more years, it is a less glamorous but still significant barrier in his way; no incumbent has ever been re-elected with unemployment this high. – John King
Leading Drudge: New Yorker: Bill Clinton: 'A Few Years Ago, This Guy Would Have Been Carrying Our Bags'...
Former President Bill Clinton tried to get former senator Ted Kennedy to endorse Hillary Clinton for president in the 2008 election by describing Barack Obama this way: "A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags." – Daniel Harper
Leading HuffPo: Barack Obama Promised A New Kind Of Politics, But Played The Same Old Game
In the days following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson was left to pursue his predecessor’s unfinished legislative agenda. White House insiders considered the task nearly impossible. The civil rights bill was bottled up in the House Rules Committee, where its chairman was intent on running out the clock until the election the next year. A critical tax cut, meanwhile, was bogged down in the Senate, where the Finance Committee chairman was holding it hostage. – Ryan Grim and Sam Stein
Leading Politico: DNC 2012: Barack Obama, the conventional president
Barack Obama was a man of uncommon background and uncommon talents, a visionary, a transformational leader. That’s what his supporters believed as Obama accepted a presidential nomination on a stage lined with Greek columns in Denver in 2008. – John F. Harris and Jonathan Martin
Leading The New York Times: The Competitor in Chief
As Election Day approaches, President Obama is sharing a few important things about himself. He has mentioned more than once in recent weeks that he cooks “a really mean chili.” He has impressive musical pitch, he told an Iowa audience. He is “a surprisingly good pool player,” he informed an interviewer — not to mention (though he does) a doodler of unusual skill. – Jodi Cantor
The political bites of the day
– Obama says RNC was a ‘re-run’ of last century –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN TOLEDO, OHIO: “Last week the other party gave their sales pitch at their convention down in Florida. … And I have to say, it was something to see. Despite all the challenges that we face, in this new century, we saw three straight days of an agenda out of the last century. It was a re-run. You might as well have watched it on black and white TV with some rabbit ears on there.”
– Ryan longs for the days of Jimmy Cater –
VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE PAUL RYAN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN NORTH CAROLINA: “The president can say a lot of things, and he will. But he can't tell you that you're better off. Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are right now.”
– Biden tunes rust belt message, thanks crowd for sacrifices –
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN DETROIT, MICHIGAN: “You're the reason. You're the reason the auto industry is back. Whether it was the plant closures or the wage freezes and the cuts you took, the elimination of dental and vision you have to undertake, your sacrifices, you sacrificed to keep your companies open, you took a hit.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Micah Zenko (@MicahZenko)
Crocker: Politicians seeking to "just do something" advocate "ill-conceived military intervention abroad." http://bit.ly/NHLp9E #truth
Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka)
Happy Labor Day, thanks for the hard work you do every day. Enjoy the holiday and always remember what we're celebrating
Joe Pounder (@PounderFile)
Politico: "Record-high Labor Day gasoline prices greet Democrats in Charlotte" http://is.gd/DYMrI5
Amy Gardner (@AmyEGardner)
With Charlotte convention looming, Obama pushes back against "you didn't build that" attacks. http://wapo.st/N7rUFT
Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker)
On flight to Charlotte, US Airways agent observed my Romney bag tag and says, "That'll probably be the only one on this flight."
Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews)
Biden begins Labor Day rally with a moment of silence for those lost in wars. Been talking frequently on this trip about troops.
Karl Rove (@KarlRove)
Fox made @joetrippi and I show our Segway skills this AM as a condition of being admitted to @foxandfriends stage http://pic.twitter.com/LLxNCGkh
Josh Rubin (@CNNExpress)
Huge rainstorm over Charlotte right now...people running for cover. God appears to be an independent.
Chicago has hosted a whopping 25 national political conventions since 1832, a number that far eclipses second place Baltimore’s 10 conventions.
The first convention in Chicago was the 1860 Republican National Convention – where President Abraham Lincoln was nominated president and Hannibal Hamlin was nominated vice president. In the first 64 years of the Republican Party, from 1856 to 1920, the Windy City hosted nine out of 17 conventions, including a string of five consecutive.
Chicago was known as the best meeting place between the East Coast and West Coast power centers and therefore became an ideal spot for these large meetings.
With the advent of air travel, a more diverse sampling of cities has been selected as of late. The last political convention in Chicago was the 1996 Democratic National Convention that nominated President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.
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