CNN's GUT CHECK | for December 20, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: JAKE TAPPER JOINS CNN… Accomplished Washington journalist Jake Tapper, who has served the last four years as ABC’s senior White House correspondent, joins CNN as anchor of a new weekday program and CNN’s chief Washington correspondent. “With CNN’s impeccable reporting during the elections and the exciting changes in the works for the network, this is a perfect time to join the CNN team,” said Tapper.
POSTURING: MESSAGING RULES THE DAY AS FISCAL CLIFF TALKS REMAIN STUCK IN NEUTRAL… Speaker of the House John Boehner will bring his fiscal cliff “Plan B” to the House floor on Thursday evening, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it won’t be taken up in the Senate and the White House has issued a veto threat.
GOP PROPOSALS: One of the proposals would amount to both a concession by Republicans and a hard-line stance against the president on taxes. It would extend tax cuts scheduled to expire at the end of the year for most people while allowing rates to increase to 1990s levels on income over $1 million. The second proposal would change the automatic spending cuts set to kick in next year under the fiscal cliff, replacing cuts to the military with reductions elsewhere. “We're going to have the votes to pass both the tax, permanent tax relief bill” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. – Deirdre Walsh, Dana Bash and Tom Cohen
VETO THREAT: PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THURSDAY’S WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING… “The speaker and his lieutenants have spent days trying to twist arms and wrangle votes for, within their own conference. It's an exercise in Republican vote counting that will not result in anything for the American people. It can not pass the Senate. The president would veto it if it got to his desk.”
‘NOTHING’: SPEAKER BOEHNER AT HIS WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL… “For weeks the White House said that if I moved on rates that they would make substantial concessions on spending cuts and entitlement reforms. I did my part. They’ve done nothing. The president’s last offer of $1.3 trillion in new revenues with only $850 billion worth of spending reductions fails to meet the test of balance that he continues to call for. And frankly, I am convinced the president is unwilling to stand up to his own party on the big issues that face our country.”
What president lit the first national Christmas tree?
What caught our eye today in politics
As fiscal cliff talks continue on Capitol Hill and at the White House, a CNN poll released Thursday found that 53% of Americans believe the Republican Party should compromise more on the fiscal cliff, while 41% said the Democratic Party should give up more in order to get to a bipartisan solution.
The same poll also found that a small majority (53%) of Americans also see the GOP’s policies as too extreme, a number that is up from 36% in September of 2010. The Democratic Party, according to the poll, was seen as less extreme – their number fell over that same time, from 42% in September of 2010 to 37% in the latest poll.
"That's due in part to the fact that the Republican brand is not doing all that well," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
This poll caught our eye – and made us wonder, what is the current state of the Republican brand?
Abysmal, says Erick Erickson, CNN contributor and editor of the conservative website RedState.com. “It is a communications problem, but directly relating to that, I think it is a communication problem for lack of having a vision.”
Erickson, who happily calls himself a Republican partisan, says even he doesn’t “know what the hell the Republican Party stands for.”
This, he says, is evidenced in the two biggest issues being argued right now – gun control and taxes.
Following last week's school shooting in Connecticut that left 20 young children and eight adults dead, including the shooter, a number of Republican legislators have said they were open to talking about gun laws. As for taxes, during the back-and-forth wrangling over the fiscal cliff, House Speaker John Boehner has proposed raising taxes on some of America’s highest earners.
“The last two things the Republicans are supposed to be known for is not wanting to raise taxes and being very pro-Second Amendment. Now you have Republicans like Marco Rubio wanting to talk about the second amendment and John Boehner talking about taxes,” Erickson said. “Now what does the GOP stand for other than we are not Barack Obama?”
Erickson’s solution: give the Republican Party a face.
“There is this multifaceted hydra (read: John Boehner and Mitch McConnell) of the Republican Party, but there needs to be a fresher face of the GOP,” Erickson said. “Maybe it is time to bring Paul Ryan out of the witness protection program.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Benghazi report threatens to tarnish Clinton's legacy
The year 2012 was supposed to herald Hillary Clinton's swan song, a golden departure amid speculation that she might consider another run at the presidency in 2016. Instead, the outgoing secretary of state has found herself and her agency at the center of a scathing report about bloody attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. – Halimah Abdullah
Leading Drudge: Doomsday Panic
Thousands of students will have an extra long holiday break after school administrators in at least two Michigan counties decided to cancel classes because of talk surrounding the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and rumors connected to the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world. Five districts in Lapeer County and 20 districts in Genesee County posted announcements Wednesday evening canceling classes Thursday and Friday.
Leading HuffPo: Newt Gingrich On Mitt Romney: 'I Would Have Probably Done Better' Against Obama
Newt Gingrich blames Mitt Romney for being a bad candidate. More than that, he blames the Republican Party for fostering a corrosive culture that produced Romney as its candidate. The former House speaker argued that the GOP has grown stale and introverted, putting itself on the wrong side of history on issues like immigration and painting itself into a corner on others, like gay marriage.
Leading Politico: The disappearing independent
As Republicans sift through the wreckage of the presidential election and Democrats brace for the 2014 midterms, there is one clear point of agreement between them: Independent voters no longer decide elections. – Lois Romano
Leading The New York Times: Behind the Scenes in Congress; Out in Front at Home
In Washington, Mr. Stombres is one of the most powerful Republican aides on Capitol Hill and a central, if largely unseen, player in the fiscal showdown between his party and President Obama. But here where he lives, 22 miles away, he is “Mr. Councilman,” the city’s well-known, nonpartisan champion of recycling, parks and government efficiency. – Michael Shear
The political bites of the day
– Booker eying U.S. Senate for 2014 –
NEWARK MAYOR CORY BOOKER WROTE IN AN OP-ED FOR NEW JERSEY’S STAR-LEDGER: “Let there be no doubt, I will complete my full second term as mayor. As for my political future, I will explore the possibility of running for The United States Senate in 2014. As I explore a run for the United States Senate, I look forward to consulting with Senator Lautenberg. During my lifetime, he has been one of New Jersey's most important leaders. It would be a privilege to continue his great legacy of service.”
Gut Check Full Service… Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a fellow Democrat, has yet to say if he’ll run for re-election in 2014. Lautenberg will be 90 years old on Election Day 2014 and has served in the Senate since 2003. – Paul Steinhauser
– Former colleagues honor a great man: Sen. Daniel Inouye –
VICE PRESIDENT, AND FORMER SENATOR, JOE BIDEN: “I think the highest compliment a parent can give another man or woman is to look at their daughters and say or their son and say I hope you grow up to be like that man or that woman. There's a lot of great men and women, those of us who served here… but all of us, all of them had some aspect of their personality, like I have and everyone else does, that is not particularly admirable. But there wasn't one single attribute of Danny's character that I didn't want my sons to possess. Not one. There's never been another man, but my father, who I thought about in terms of my sons.”
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID: “Although Senator Inouye was an unabashed progressive Democrat, he always put his country first and his party second. Dan was a vibrant and vital presence in the Senate and in death he will remain a legend. His last word on Earth was ‘aloha’ and it's with a heavy heart that I and we bid aloha, goodbye, I love you, to a friend and legend of the Senate, Daniel Ken Inouye.”
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER: “Dan Inouye's first thoughts were always for the nation he loved and the state that he served to his last breath. And while this may be a quiet ceremony for a quiet man, it will endure long after the respects are paid for when this rotunda returns to life and the tour guides give their pitch, they will always speak of Daniel Inouye, the gentleman from Hawaii and one of freedoms most gallant champions.”
– Palin not so happy with Time Magazine –
FORMER ALASKA GOV. SARAH PALIN BEMOANS TIME MAGAZINE’S SELECTION OF PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AS THEIR PERSON OF THE YEAR IN AN INTERVIEW WITH FOX NEWS: “When I first heard that, the first thing that popped in my mind was: What the heck has he done? Really, what has he done, except drive us over a fiscal cliff? What has he done to unify and make our nation a more perfect union? For the life of me, I don't know.”
– Cash for assault weapons: Congressman proposes federal buyback program –
REP. JERROLD NADLER, D-NEW YORK, IN A WRITTEN PRESS RELEASE: “Assault weapons have become nothing more than horrific killing machines allowing deranged individuals to inflict the maximum amount of carnage quickly, and with a minimum of personal contact. There is no legitimate purpose – none – for these instruments of violence outside of the military. A national buyback program would help remove the current stock from circulation and should be part of any effort to reduce gun violence.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
"I don't understand why a disturbed 20-year-old has more firepower...than my niece serving in Kabul, also 20 years old" nyr.kr/VSAuY4—
Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) December 20, 2012
PIC - casket of late Sen Inouye placed on catafalque in Cap Rotunda - entire room quiet except for clicks of still cams http://t.co/HS6P8lTO—
Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn) December 20, 2012
The last person to lie in state in the US Capitol Rotunda was President Gerald Ford at the end of 2006—
Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) December 20, 2012
McConnell chokes up on the floor in his farewell speech to Kyl. "I hate to see you go."—
Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 20, 2012
Carney sez Boehner plan B is disqualified b/c it can't pass Senate. So isn't Obama latest offer also disqualified b/c it can't pass House?—
Brit Hume (@brithume) December 20, 2012
Despite the speakers confidence, hearing gop leadership is still twisting gop arms to pass plan b tonight—
Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) December 20, 2012
NRA finally speaks. Holding a press conference in DC on Friday bit.ly/UAnWW6—
Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) December 18, 2012
Waiting period? RT @daveweigel: NRA asking reporters who want credentials to fax them proof "on company letterhead."—
Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) December 20, 2012
Pew Forum (@pewforum) December 20, 2012
Sacrilegious? Vatican claims Pope is more popular than Justin Bieber ow.ly/ggrwd—
Michael Shapcott (@michaelshapcott) December 20, 2012
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
With one click, Calvin Coolidge becomes the first president to light the national Christmas tree on the White House campus.
The tree, which originated from Coolidge’s home-state of Vermont, stood nearly 50 feet tall and was the first at the White House to be decorated with electric lights. The event was marked by musical performances and Christmas carols sung by members of a local church.
Before this lighting, Christmas celebrations in the White House were generally private affairs, where first families decorated their own trees and celebrated with friends. According to the White House Historical Association, President Benjamin Harrison was the first White House resident to have a White House Christmas tree and not just one for his family.
Since then, the traditions have grown to proportions much larger than a few lights and a yule log. Themed and Internet-streamed White House Christmas celebrations have become the norm, especially since First Lady Hillary Clinton “showcased the talents of America’s artistic communities” in her eight years in the White House, according to the White House Historical Society.
The 2012 White House Christmas tree lighting took place on the Ellipse, a small greenspace right outside the White House complex, and featured performances by James Taylor, The Fray and Jason Mraz.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Another win for Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877). He is coming close to toping the most Gut Check Trivia wins.
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.
Need a last minute holiday gift? Give a friend a free subscription to CNN's daily political gut check, so they can always be in the know. Just email email@example.com with the email address!