CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 4, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger reports: The White House has told some senior members of Congress to expect the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, according to a knowledgeable source. Another source with knowledge of the nomination called it “locked down.” The timing is uncertain, but other sources have told CNN it could come early next week. The White House has previously said that the president has made no final decisions. One source told CNN yesterday that the president was “mulling” over appointments in Hawaii this week. The source with knowledge of the nominations adds that Jack Lew is likely to be nominated as Treasury Secretary, perhaps as early as next week. This source says that while Lew is expected to be confirmed, there is some consternation in the business community about Lew, who is known as a “numbers guy” but has “little or no market and business experience.” The administration is believed to be searching for a person with business expertise to run the Commerce Department, but there seems to be no first-in-line name circulating at this point. Gene Sperling is expected to stay as Director of the National Economic Council. Former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm are also being considered for cabinet posts.
DEVELOPING: CONGRESS APPROVES SCALED-BACK SANDY AID BILL… Congress approved a $9.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package on Friday following delays over fiscal cliff bickering, warnings of dwindling federal funds and swirling controversy over millions of dollars for unrelated projects. The measure passed the House, 354-67. The Senate did so unanimously and without debate. It was the first legislative action of the new Congress, which picked up the Sandy package after the previous session on Tuesday shelved a vote on a much larger assistance plan for storm victims, infuriating New York and New Jersey politicians.
IT’S OFFICIAL: ELECTORAL COLLEGE ELECTS OBAMA… The Electoral College has re-elected Barack Obama as president. The results were announced in a Joint Session of Congress. “The state of the vote for president of the United States as delivered to the president of the Senate is as follows: The whole number of the electors appointed to vote for President of the United States was 538 of which a majority was 270,” read Vice President Joe Biden at the vote count. “Barack Obama of the state of Illinois has received for president of the United States 332 votes. Mitt Romney of the state of Massachusetts has received 206 votes.”
Who was the first woman to preside over a presidential or vice presidential swearing in?
Today we are launching a fun feature that is the brainchild of CNN’s polling director and resident genius Keating Holland. Every Friday in 2013, we will go back in presidential history and twist fate to change who faced off, and ask you: Who do you think would have won?
Today's Fantasy Politics: What if the 2000 presidential race had been Al Gore vs. John McCain?
On Super Tuesday in 2000, the GOP contest had boiled down to a race between George W. Bush and McCain. Bush won seven primaries, including big states such as California, New York and Ohio, while McCain's victories were confined to four fairly small New England states. McCain dropped out of the race two days later.
But suppose the big winner on Super Tuesday had been McCain, and it had been Bush who left the race 48 hours afterward. Would McCain have been able to beat Al Gore? Or would Gore have matched up better against McCain and been able to win the electoral college as well as the popular vote? Who would have won a Gore/McCain battle in 2000?
Answers came in to our email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Twitter account (@GutCheckCNN) and Facebook page. Here some of the best:
Todd Harris (@dtoddharris), former senior communications strategist for Sen. John McCain writes, “Gore would have lost, causing him such anguish that he fell from public view, grew a bushy beard, and went on to make $100 million in oil money. Oh wait...”
Josh M. Peck, disagrees, “Easily Gore. And if McCain had been his opponent he probably would not have chose Lieberman. Lieberman carried strength in CT. And was conservative enough. Gore would have picked Richardson (before his drama) and would have carried AZ and NM and CO plus won the large majority of the Latino vote. Gore would have won 330-190 over McCain.”
RoseLee Bernstein writes, “McCain, he was still well thought of. He had some good bipartisan ideas. Gore was 2 dimensional and still is, he has good ideas but is unable to pass them along.”
Anna Dockter didn’t quite play along, but she shared her hope on Facebook, “Unsure, all I know is... Gore shoulda won.”
And then there is this:
@GutCheckCNN not the American people
Agree? Disagree? Make your case on our brand new Facebook page (seriously worth a visit, if only to mock our Hart to Hart style photo).
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Both Obama, GOP have laid out hard lines for tough talks ahead
If all the recent wrangling over the fiscal cliff has revealed anything, it's how tense and strained President Barack Obama's relationship is with Republicans in Congress. And Obama's relationship with Congress reached yet another low on Thursday when House Speaker John Boehner confirmed to CNN that he has told House Republicans he will no longer negotiate legislative deals with the president. – Martina Stewart
Leading Drudge: Unemployment Up To 7.8%, Debt Hits $16,432,706,000,000.00
U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, a steady gain that shows hiring held up during the tense negotiations to resolve the fiscal cliff. The solid job growth wasn't enough to push down the unemployment rate, which remained 7.8 percent last month, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate for November was revised up from an initially reported 7.7 percent.
Leading HuffPo: O Faces 'Nasty' Process
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's plans to leave near the end of January put the White House in a tricky spot, depriving the Obama administration of its longest-serving economic adviser for its next fiscal showdown with Congress. Geithner, who spent his years as treasury secretary battling the financial crisis and then fighting with Republican lawmakers in 2011 over raising the debt ceiling, has wanted to leave government service for some time. – Rachelle Younglai
Leading Politico: GOP scrambles to fix its primary problem
The disastrous 2012 election and embarrassing fiscal cliff standoff has brought forth one principal conclusion from establishment Republicans: They have a primary problem. The intra-party contests, or threat thereof, have become the original sin that explains many of the party’s woes in the minds of GOP leaders. It’s the primaries that push their presidential nominees far to the right (see “self-deportation” and “47 percent”); produce lackluster Senate candidates (Todd Akin has almost become a one-word shorthand); and, as seen most vividly in the last two weeks, dissuade scores of gerrymandered House members from face-saving compromise while politically emasculating their speaker. – Jonathan Martin
Leading The New York Times: A Changing of the Guard Among Veterans in Congress
The 113th Congress convened for the first time on Thursday, welcoming the largest wave of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since those wars began more than a decade ago. Sixteen members of the new Congress served in Iraq or Afghanistan, including nine new members, according to the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. – Ashley Southall
The political bites of the day
- On to the next: Republicans prepare for a debt limit debate… -
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER AT A REPUBLICAN CAUCUS MEETING, ACCORDING TO A SOURCE: “With the cliff behind us, the focus turns to spending. The president says he isn't going to have a debate with us over the debt ceiling. He also says he's not going to cut spending along with the debt limit hike. This morning, we’re releasing the results of a survey by the Winston Group taken December 29-30 among 1,000 registered voters. Seventy-two percent of Americans agree any increase in the nation's debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts and reforms of a greater amount. That's the principle I laid out before the Economic Club of New York in May of 2011, and I've repeated a number of times since. The debate is already underway.”
- Cornyn floats idea of a government shutdown -
REPUBLICAN SEN. JOHN CORNYN IN AN OPINION-EDITORIAL FOR THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE: “The coming deadlines will be the next flashpoints in our ongoing fight to bring fiscal sanity to Washington. It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well being of our country, rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy and Spain. President Obama needs to take note of this reality and put forward a plan to avoid it immediately.”
- … and Democrats call it reckless -
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER OF NEW YORK: “I think that playing, that talking, that risking government shutdown, risking not raising the debt ceiling, is playing with fire. And it is my strong recommendation to my caucus, to the House Democratic Caucus, and to the president that we make it clear - not in the middle of February, but from the, from next week on - that we are not going to do that. Anyone who wants to come and negotiate and say, "We'll do this only if you, we will raise the debt ceiling only if you do ABC," will not have a negotiating partner. And if then they don't want to raise the debt ceiling, it'll be on their shoulders.”
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI AT HER WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE: “I think that is a complete manifestation of the philosophy that has worked on the Republican side. If you do not believe in a public role, if you do not heed the call of President Washington who said political parties should not be at war with their own government, then you would disagree with what the Republicans are doing. … Some of the debt that has been incurred was incurred by Congress, much of it in the Bush years. Two unpaid for wars, the prescription drug bill that gave away the store to the pharmaceutical industry, tax cuts for the very wealthy that did not produce jobs and therefore growth and revenue to the Treasury. So they have created, been part of creating this problem and now they're saying we're not paying our bills. Well, that's just not right and I think that's an appropriate conversation for us to have.”
- Even with passage, Boehner still taking heat over Sandy -
DEMOCRATIC REP. FRANK PALLONE OF NEW JERSEY IN A SPEECH ON THE HOUSE FLOOR: “This action by the House Republican leadership is too little and too late. I have to say that I am still very upset and it is deplorable that the speaker did not bring this bill up and the whole package that addresses hurricane Sandy relief in the lame duck session in the last two days of Congress. It would have been passed. We had the votes. It would have been on the president’s desk. He would have signed and we would have started to rebuild the shore. Now we have another delay. I don’t know how many weeks – it’s nine weeks, ten weeks whatever it is. I have no idea what the Senate is going to do.”
- Gov. Richardson defends “humanitarian” trip to N. Korea -
CNN’S WOLF BLITZER: Governor, how come you’re going against the wishes of the State Department and heading off to North Korea?
FORMER NEW MEXICO GOV. BILL RICHARDSON: Well I understand why they're cautious. This is a very sensitive time in diplomacy with North Korea. We're not happy with what the North Koreans have been doing, but I’m a private citizen. This is a private humanitarian mission. We postponed at their request once, right before the South Korean elections. And there never seems to be a good time to go. In the past, I’ve postponed visits to North Korea at their request, but I felt that this time, because of the humanitarian nature of the trip, the fact that there's an American detainee there… I think it's important that we go. It's a brief visit.” (VIDEO)
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
DEVAL PATRICK: Says of Barney Frank: "I think he'd be a great interim senator," before adding that he's made no decisions. #mapoli—
Glen Johnson (@globeglen) January 04, 2013
Obama wound up winning nat'l popular vote by 3.85%. CO (+5.37%) and PA (+5.38%) essentially tied as tipping-point state.—
Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) January 04, 2013
Jim Roberts (@nytjim) January 04, 2013
Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) January 04, 2013
Is it really "aid" if Congress is just allowing the flood-insurance program to borrow enough to make payments on policies it's issued?—
Amy Davidson (@tnyCloseRead) January 04, 2013
At the very least his payroll taxes will go up, and yet Grover Norquist is "happy" about fiscal cliff deal huff.to/VD5UTH—
Ethan Klapper (@ethanklapper) January 04, 2013
A Rebel's Methods Go Mainstream nyti.ms/VGFxvB-- Great NYT piece on Jerry Tarkanian. Where he is. Where he was. And where he should be—
Chuck Cooperstein (@coopmavs) January 04, 2013
Need exact guidelines of what I need to run for Toronto mayor and how long it takes to claim residency. #yeswecanseco—
Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) January 04, 2013
Tonya Lindsey (@lindsey_tonya) January 03, 2013
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Vice President Joe Biden has chosen Associate Justice to the Supreme Court Sonya Sotomayor to administer his oath of office this January, making Sotomayor the fourth woman to preside over a presidential or vice presidential swearing in.
The first woman to do so came in much different, more harrowing times.
Federal judge Sarah T. Hughes became the first woman to swear in a president or vice president when she swore in Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One following John. F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. Hughes remains the only woman to ever swear in a president.
Hughes can be seen in the iconic photo taken during Johnson’s swearing in aboard Air Force One. Many presidential historians argue that this is the most famous photo taken aboard the presidential plane.
The two other women to preside over a presidential or vice presidential swearing in are Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg – both were tapped to swear in vice presidents.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Greg Dean (@gregdean11), who was first to correctly answer today’s Gut Check trivia question. A close second: Peter Ubertaccio (@ProfessorU). Happy Friday all.
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