CNN's GUT CHECK | for November 13, 2012 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: BIPARTISAN PRESSURE ON PETRAEUS OVER BENGHAZI:
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN, IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN’S “THE SITUATION ROOM”: “I believe he will. I think he's a responsible person. And I believe he will come. … I think that's important for us to hear. … We know that General Petraeus was at Benghazi, according to Bob Woodward. We know, according to Bob Woodward, that he talked to certain people. I want to see if that's true or not. There's only one way to ascertain that, and that is to talk directly with Director Petraeus and do it in a classified setting with the committee present.”
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, THE RANKING REPUBLICAN ON THE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “It's absolutely imperative that General Petraeus come and testify. He was CIA director at the time of the attack, he visited Libya after the attack, he has a great deal of information that we need in order to understand what went wrong.”
In 1953, a member of the Indiana Textbook Commission responded to the Cold War by labeling which folklore character a communist?
All our attention is on tomorrow’s presidential press conference slated for 1:30 p.m. ET live on CNN. While tomorrow’s formal, news conference will be the 16th of Obama’s presidency, it will be his first since winning re-election and first since the news of the Petraeus affair broke last Friday. Here are the top five things that we shall be watching:
1. The Mandate. Post-election press conferences always have an air of history to them as they set the initial tone for the next two to four years of an administration. Who could forget Obama’s dubbing 2010 a “shellacking” after Democrats were crushed in the midterms, or the newly re-elected George W. Bush on Nov. 4, 2004, smirking at cameras as he declared, “I pledged to reach out to the whole nation. And today, I'm proving that I'm willing to reach out to everybody by including the White House press corps.” Will President Obama himself claim a mandate as he pushes Congress to deal? And if he does, will he say, “the American people are with me on this” or will he be specific as to his interpretation of why he feels he earned the majority of America’s votes?
2. Gen. John Allen, U.S. Commander in Afghanistan. With the Petraeus scandal heating up just as the Afghanistan war enters a crucial phase, CNN’s chief political analyst Gloria Borger (@gloriaborgerCNN) tells Gut Check, “The president’s vote of confidence in General Allen” will have her eye tomorrow. Will he stand by his top commander unequivocally?
3. New 2nd Term Relationships. Senior congressional Correspondent Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) tells Gut Check, “Will the president do in his second term what Republicans as well as Democrats on Capitol Hill complain he didn’t do in his first – reach out. He told Jessica Yellin in her documentary that he doesn’t have time to socialize because he has two young daughters. But he’s got to eat lunch, right? Have coffee in the morning? Will he vow to make more of an effort to get to know lawmakers in his second term? By all accounts – especially from Democratic lawmakers – not doing that hurt him in his first term. Maybe he’ll make more time over the next four years.”
4. Immigration Reform. CNN’s White House Producer Lesa Jansen (@lesajansencnn) writes, “I want to hear from the president on his strategy for passing bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform. After winning back the White House with an astounding 71% of the Latino vote, can the president lay out a plan to tackle the immigration issue? Republicans are apparently ready to sign on but House Speaker John Boehner recently said it is the president who must lead. Appearing on the Spanish-language television network Univision before the election, Obama said the ‘greatest failure’ of his presidency was not being able to pass immigration reform. Will this issue help to shape the Obama legacy?”
5. National insecurity. Editor of CNN’s Security Clearance Blog (CNN,com/SecurityClearance) Adam Levine (@cnnadam) tells us: “I want to hear how convincing the president is about his foreign policy and national security being on terra firma given the abrupt departure of CIA Director David Petraeus, the investigation of the top commander in Afghanistan who is in the middle of planning the U.S. endgame in the war and the expected departure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While second term departures of top officials are expected, the abrupt developments of this past week impact people at the helm of some of the sensitive foreign policy issues facing the nation. It also comes as his administration is marching up to the Hill to brief Congress on what happened in Libya. The scandals will pass but can Obama convince the nation his White House is not embroiled and distracted?”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Moderate Senate Democrats eye midterms warily
Begich is one of six moderate Democrats from "red" states whose terms ends in two years. Max Baucus of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas are among the 20 Democrats whose terms will be up in 2014; Republicans will defend 13 seats. Since 2008, when the former Anchorage mayor narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Ted Stevens, Begich has voted as a moderate and has shown willingness to work with the other party. At times, he says, that can get lonely: “You feel like a Lone Ranger sometimes.’” – Dan Merica
Leading Drudge: Four-Star Circus
David Petraeus’ stunning downfall took another salacious turn Monday as it was revealed the FBI agent who began investigating the disgraced spy chief allegedly sent shirtless photos of himself to the woman who sparked the probe. The unnamed agent was a friend of Jill Kelley, the raven-haired knockout whom Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell jealously suspected of having the hots for the former CIA director, The Wall Street Journal reported. – Edgar Sandoval and Tracy Connor
Leading HuffPo: Don't Cry Wolf
Wall Street's hostility toward President Barack Obama has been playing out for years in the form of extreme rhetoric and lopsided campaign contributions benefitting Mitt Romney. But Obama's reelection has amplified the voice of his top ally in the financier class, who is now struggling to remind his banking brethren that the president largely agrees with them on most public policy issues. In an interview with HuffPost Live, Robert Wolf, former chairman of the Americas for Swiss banking giant UBS, said that the election should end the verbal abuse directed toward Obama, and that most financiers are generally sympathetic to Obama's policy platform - including a deficit reduction plan that pairs spending cuts with tax increases. – Zach Carter and Paul Blumenthal
Leading Politico: Carney: Obama backs Gen. Allen
President Barack Obama was “surprised” to learn of Gen. David Petraeus’ extramarital affair and still has faith in Gen. John Allen, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday as lawmakers in both parties expressed bewilderment at the conduct of the country’s top four-star commanders and demanded answers. – Katie Glueck
Leading The New York Times: Democrats Like a Romney Idea on Income Tax
With both parties positioning for difficult negotiations to avert a fiscal crisis as Congress returns for its lame-duck session, Democrats are latching on to an idea floated by Mitt Romney to raise taxes on the rich through a hard cap on income tax deductions. – Jonathan Weisman
Leading CNNMoney: Wall Street bracing for capital gains tax hikes
Investors worried about paying higher capital gains taxes next year should brace for a wild ride over the next few months. Starting Jan. 1, when Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire, tax rates on long-term capital gains will jump to 20% from their current 15%, and 23.8% for those in the top income bracket. Taxes on profits from stock dividends, currently at 15%, will surge to 39.6% overall and 43.4% for top earners. – Maureen Farrell
The political bites of the day
– White House briefing dominated by Petraeus, Allen –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING:
On Petraeus: “The president was certainly surprised when he was informed about the situation regarding General Petraeus on Thursday. He greatly appreciates General Petraeus' remarkable service to his country, both in uniform and at the CIA and he said in his statement his thoughts and prayers go out to both General Petraeus and Holly Petraeus at this time. He is focused on his policy agenda and has confidence in the acting director at the CIA and he has confidence in the military to carry out the various missions that he has asked them to carry out.”
On Allen: “He has faith in General Allen, believes he is doing and has done an excellent job at ISAF and I would refer you to the Pentagon for the process underway with regards to General Allen.”
– Feinstein: it’s ‘rather shocking’ we found out about Petraeus scandal from the media –
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN, IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN’S “THE SITUATION ROOM”: “It's rather shocking to find out candidly that we weren't briefed and that we find out from the press in the way in which we did, with no heads up, with no opportunity to ask questions, or put together any information. So we have been coming from behind on this.”
– Surprised by loss, Ryan cites urban turnout as reason –
REP. PAUL RYAN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE JOURNAL TIMES OF RACINE ON MONDAY: “The numbers we were looking at looked like we stood a pretty good chance of winning. So, when the numbers came in going the other direction – when we saw the turnout that was occurring in urban areas that was unprecedented, it did come as a bit of a shock. So, those are the toughest losses to have – the ones that catch you by surprise.”
–Erickson: Can We Replace John Boehner With Paul Ryan? –
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, IN A POST ON HIS WEBSITE REDSTATE.COM: “John Boehner has been willing to throw his conference under the bus repeatedly. … We know he now doesn’t even want to fight Obamacare, calling it the “law of the land.” We know he only walked back that statement because of the outrage that ensued. …House Republicans are being badly served by John Boehner. … House Republicans should think very carefully if the faux-tanned face of John Boehner is the face they want for their party in the next two years. They should consider Paul Ryan as their Speaker.”
– Pelosi heralds diversity –
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI AT A CAPITOL HILL PRESS CONFERENCE: “Today we officially welcome our democratic freshmen to Washington. They are extraordinary leaders who will make our House Democratic Caucus the first caucus in history, in the history of civilized government, to have a majority of women and minorities in the caucus. You can applaud that.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Amy Walter (@amyewalter)
Spotted at WH 2day, @Messina2012 says he's going to "Italy & figure out how to become an expert in red wine" (per ABC's Ann Compton)
Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell)
First sign of Obama's flexibility with the Russians? install John Kerry as Secretary of Defense?!?
Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram)
Lawmakers come back to Capitol Hill for first time in six weeks… and rock stars do, too. Bono spotted leaving House carriage entrance.
Chris Moody (@Chris_Moody)
Dem Rep. Steve Israel says House Democrats are now "the most diverse caucus in the history of civilization."
Shira Toeplitz (@shiratoeplitz)
According to outgoing @RepJoewalsh, folks are asking him to run for #ILGov in 2014 http://roll.cl/QEgrjT
Tom Price (@RepTomPrice)
ROLL CALL: "@RepPaulRyan comes out strong for Tom Price" for Conference chairman http://bit.ly/W1gibO #tcot #gop
Molly McNearney (@mollymcnearney)
Bieber is single and Twilight is ending. Bad time to be an unstable 13 year old or a weird mom.
The responses to our piece on heroes warmed our hearts and our Inbox. Here are a couple of our favorite replies:
David wrote “My dad!” and added this line about his father’s military career, “Never thought about not serving, never complained, very rarely ever talked about those years.” Meanwhile, Brett wrote that instead of looking in society, “We must all look within ourselves for our inspiration, like all heroes do.” As always, we thank you for letting us learn from you, the smartest readers in politics.
No one was safe from the “Red Scare” – including storybook characters.
On this day in 1953, Thomas J. White, a member of the Indiana Textbook Commission, was taken by the threat of Soviet Russia and called for the removal of all references to Robin Hood in textbooks used in Indiana. According to the History Channel, White charged that the man in tights used “the communist line.”
There is “a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor,” White said. “That's the Communist line. It's just a smearing of law and order and anything that disrupts law and order is their meat.”
After being criticized, White doubled down.
“Because I'm trying to get Communist writers out of textbooks, my name is mud,” White said. “Evidently, I'm drawing blood or they wouldn't make such an issue out of it.”
Little John and Friar Tuck could not be reached for comment.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congratulations to Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. While we commend Liguori, our favorite answer – Tom Sawyer – goes to Deb Murphy (@debsnm).
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