CNN's GUT CHECK | for November 28, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING: SENIOR GOP CONGRESSMAN’S TAX PROPOSAL GETS SHOT DOWN… House Speaker John Boehner and other conservatives shot down a proposal from a senior congressional Republican who suggested that his GOP colleagues break from their firm anti-tax position and agree to a demand from Democrats to immediately renew middle class tax cuts. Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the leadership team that helps round up House votes, told fellow GOP lawmakers that he thought they should, as a matter of political strategy, extend just the tax-rate cuts for those making $250,000 or less before the end of the year - a position being pushed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. – Deirdre Walsh
– The fight plays out in front of cameras… –
REPUBLICAN REP. TOM COLE OF OKLAHOMA OUTSIDE THE WEEKLY REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE MEETING: “In my view, we all agree that we're not going to raise taxes on people who make less than $250,000. We should just take them out of this discussion right now, continue to fight against any rate increases, continue to work honestly for a much bigger deal. We need to deal with entitlement spending. We need to deal with job creation. Rates are intimately tied to that. So let's have that discussion, but I think it's easier to have without a lot of people whose taxes we don't intend to raise being worried they might get raised.”
REPUBLICAN REP. RAUL LABRADOR OUTSIDE THE WEEKLY REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE MEETING: “I think he (Rep. Cole) is wrong and I think most of the conference thinks that he's wrong. I think he's, you know, he's a good man who's served here for a long time. But he's also a man who has voted for a lot of the increased spending in Washington, D.C., and that's the problem. We have a lot of Republicans who are, you know, catching their hair on fire right now, but they're the ones who were here for 10 or 20 years causing all the problems that we're now facing.”
– … but the GOP leader remains optimistic –
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER AT A CAPITOL HILL PRESS CONFERENCE: “Republicans are committed to continuing to work with the president to come to an agreement to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. It's one reason why we believe that we put revenue on the table as long as it's accompanied by serious spending cuts to avert this crisis. … I'm optimistic that we can continue to work together to avert this crisis sooner rather than later.”
On this week in history, FDR, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin met in Tehran to discuss World War II. Why did the trio choose Tehran?
A full throated defense of Mitt Romney by a senior aide and a strong warning by a Republican elder has caught our eye, three weeks after President Barack Obama won a second term and Democrats picked up seats in the House and Senate.
Stuart Stevens and Newt Gingrich do not seem to have much in common – the former is the type of political professional who the latter frequently criticizes for the GOP’s woes. But in separate opinion columns today, they both agree that Romney should not bear the blame for failing to win the White House.
It makes sense that Stevens would defend his candidate – after all, he was Romney’s chief campaign strategist.
“Losing is just losing,” Stevens writes in The Washington Post. “It’s not a mandate to throw out every idea that the candidate championed, and I would hope it’s not seen as an excuse to show disrespect for a good man who fought hard for values we admire.”
In the weeks after the loss, there has been grumbling from some Republicans who charge Romney wasn’t conservative enough or was just a bad candidate.
While Stevens says the “the Republican Party has problems,” he argues Romney should be credited for his strong showing with middle class voters, which Stevens says is the result of Romney’s commitment to “Republican ideals.”
“On Nov. 6, that wasn’t enough to win. But it was enough to make us proud and to build on for the future,” he writes.
The future is where Gingrich, who unsuccessfully ran against Romney for the GOP nomination, steps in. In Human Events, the former House speaker writes that Republicans need to restructure the Grand Old Party – otherwise it will face long term, devastating political consequences. It’s titled “The Key ‘R’ Word is Republican, Not Romney.”
“The focus on Romney as a candidate is profoundly misleading for those who want to prepare for future Republican victories,” says Gingrich. “Any analysis of recent Republican presidential results will reveal a systemic failure which can’t be ascribed to Romney.”
Gingrich notes that since George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988, Republicans have gone on to lose the popular vote five out of six times. It is time, Gingrich says, for the GOP to rethink how it operates.
“There are big problems from the failure to think strategically about issues, to the unwillingness to engage the proliferation of infotainment outlets, to the methodical failure to include minorities even when they agree with us on values and issues,” Gingrich writes.
Gingrich also urges activists to take back control of the party, which he claims is being run by political professionals interested only in financial gain.
“Instead of looking at the Romney campaign in isolation Republican activists and analysts should be looking at the culture, structure and system of the GOP and its consultants, people who are paid for campaign advice without long term institutional responsibilities,” Gingrich says.
This is just the beginning of a long introspective review for the GOP as it seeks to put 2012 behind it and recalibrate for the midterm elections in 2014.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Norquist's no-tax pledge has survived challenges before
For Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, the latest rebellion began last week in the South, by way of friendly fire. "I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, told Macon station WMAZ. "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that." … The man behind the pledge says he's not so much embattled as bored. – Rebecca Sinderbrand
Leading Drudge: #My2K
President Barack Obama said Wednesday he hoped to reach a deal on the "Fiscal Cliff" before Christmas but insisted that Congress move now to prevent a middle-class tax increase in January. "Let's approach this with the middle class in mind," he said. Stocks rose in response to his comments. – CNBC
Leading HuffPo: Something's Missing...
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced who will chair all of the major House committees in the next Congress. And it turns out, they all have something in common besides party affiliation: They're all white men. There isn't a single woman or minority included in the mix of 19 House committee chairs announced Tuesday - a stark reality for a party desperate to appeal to women and minorities after both groups overwhelmingly rejected Republicans just weeks ago in the presidential election. The one female committee chair that House Republicans currently have, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is stepping down because her term is up. While there are still two lower-tier House committees awaiting a chair assignment - the Ethics Committee and House Administration - neither committee has any women or minority members. – Jennifer Bendery
Leading Politico: The fiscal cliff roadshow
The two top fiscal cliff deal makers are meeting with everybody they can find — except each other. President Barack Obama is talking this week with small-business owners, Wall Street honchos and middle-class taxpayers before flying to Pennsylvania on Friday to see a toy manufacturer. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team are consulting with the some of the same executives who are meeting with Obama. – Carrie Budoff Brown and Jake Sherman
Leading The New York Times: Now Touring, the Debt Duo, Simpson-Bowles
Theirs is an improbable buddy act that is making for unlikely entertainment from campuses to corporations on a most serious subject: the federal debt. The proof of their appeal: some business groups pay them $40,000 each per appearance. Really. To discuss budgets and baselines. – Jackie Calmes
The political bites of the day
– Obama wants to start ‘where we agree’ –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A WHITE HOUSE EVENT: “A clear majority of Americans, not just Democrats, but also a lot of Republicans and a lot of independents agreed we should have a balanced approach to deficit reduction that doesn't hurt the economy and doesn't hurt middle class families and I'm glad to see, if you've been reading the papers lately, that more and more Republicans in Congress seem to be agreeing with this idea that we should have a balanced approach. So if both parties agree we should not raise taxes on middle class families, let's begin our work with where we agree.”
– Republican senator: Benghazi ‘the biggest cover-up in history’ –
REPUBLICAN SEN. JAMES INHOFE OF OKLAHOMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH FOX NEWS: “This is going to go down as the biggest cover-up in history. The administration deliberately covered this up and misrepresented what happened in Benghazi.”
– Corker has no heroes in Washington regarding Benghazi –
REPUBLICAN SEN. BOB CORKER OF TENNESSEE AT A CAPITOL HILL STAKEOUT: “The only heroes, that I'm aware of, regarding the entire Benghazi issue were those people on the ground and the four Americans that lost their lives. The whole issue of Benghazi has been, to me, a tawdry affair, everything about it. I have found no heroes here in Washington.”
– Obama-Romney lunch to be private, only the two men –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT A WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “During his news conference two weeks ago the president said that there are aspects of Gov. Romney's record and Gov. Romney's ideas that he believes to be very helpful. The president noted that Gov. Romney did a terrific job running the Olympics and that skill set lends itself to ideas that could help make the federal government work better. … I don't have an agenda for the lunch. The president, as he said looked forward to having this meeting with Gov. Romney. It is a private lunch. Only the two men will be in the room and I am sure it will be a useful discussion.”
THE WHITE HOUSE RELEASED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT ON WEDNESDAY: “On Thursday, Governor Romney will have a private lunch at the White House with President Obama in the Private Dining Room. It will be the first opportunity they have had to visit since the election. There will be no press coverage of the meeting.”
– Bolling pulls out from Virginia governor’s race, cites Republican Ken Cuccinelli –
REPUBLICAN LT. GOV. BILL BOLLING IN A WRITTEN CAMPAIGN STATEMENT: “After a great deal of consideration, I have decided to suspend my campaign for the Republican Party's nomination for governor of Virginia. Needless to say, this was a very difficult decision for me, and I know it will come as a surprise and disappointment to many, but I am confident it is the right decision. … I had hoped that Attorney General (Ken) Cuccinelli and I would be able to form that same kind of united Republican ticket in 2013. However, late last year Mr. Cuccinelli unexpectedly announced that he intended to challenge me for the Republican Party's nomination for governor.”
Gut Check Full Service: Democratic Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe seeks to score political points on the situation: “It is disappointing that more mainstream Virginia Republicans are being driven out of leadership by the far-right. Virginia voters have repeatedly made clear that they prefer mainstream leaders building consensus instead of politicians pursuing their own ideological agenda. I intend on running a campaign that will unite Virginians across parties who share my focus putting job creation and common sense fiscal responsibility above divisive partisan crusades.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Rich Barbieri (@richbarbieri)
What’s your biggest question about the #FiscalCliff? Send to @jjsahadi and @richbarbieri for possible use in a @CNNMoney quiz.
Matt Viser (@mviser)
Despite chatter, those who know Kerry say they can't see him taking any post besides sec of state. And he'd likely stay put if passed over.
Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui)
Collins: John Kerry would be an "excellent appointment and easily confirmed by his colleagues."
Jim Acosta (@jimacostacnn)
Romney aides say fmr GOP nominee subletting an office at Solamere Capital, investment firm run by son, Tagg. But not joining the firm.
Domenico Montanaro @DomenicoNBC
Alan Simpson, always good for a quote, tells @MitchellReports that Grover Norquist is "becoming irrelevant. ... You can see it in his eyes."
Kevin Robillard (@PoliticoKevin)
Simpson on Bowles becoming Tres. Sec.: "Never, because he wouldn’t want to serve in a dysfunctional government." http://politi.co/Y699Jh
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
During World War II, when President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met there, Tehran was critically important to the war effort.
Because Germany controlled much of Europe, the Balkans and North Africa, the United States had a difficult time getting supplies to the Soviets, who were waging war on Germany from the east. Due to these complications, Iran was seen as the optimal route to get supplies to the Soviets.
This desire for an open supply line to Russia even drove the British and Soviet government to compel Reza Khan, the shah of Iran, to abdicate his power to his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The allies were fearful of Khan’s minor ties to Germany and knew that Iran, because of the Trans-Iranian Railway, was critically important in the war.
At the meeting, according to Roosevelt biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, the three leaders agreed to invade Europe through Normandy, France and the Russians promised to aid the United States in its fight against Japan.
After the meeting, the three issued a joint statement that said, “the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming mass of the peoples of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.”
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congratulations to Greg Dean (@gregdean11) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
Our inbox awaits: email@example.com
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips or comments? Send them to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood. We also want to give a shout out to Dan Merica, who runs our Twitter account @gutCheckCNN and enriches this product every single day.