CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 30, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
HISTORY MAKING: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick added another page to the nation’s history book Wednesday by naming William “Mo” Cowan to temporarily fill Sen. John Kerry’s seat until Bay State voters choose a successor in June. Cowan, a Democrat, will be the eighth African-American to serve in the Senate. This will also be the first time two African-Americans have served together in the chamber – Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, was appointed earlier this year to fill the remainder of Sen. Jim DeMint’s term.
Massachusetts Special Election: On the Democratic side: Rep. Ed Markey is in and Rep. Stephen Lynch is expected to announce his candidacy tomorrow. As for a Republican candidate, we wait to hear what former Sen. Scott Brown decides. A source close to Brown tells Gut Check: “He is still undecided. But he knows that he has got to make a decision quickly.”
GOING VIRAL: GUN DEBATE HITTING GRASSROOTS… On one side, a note and a surprise visit from former Rep. Gaby Giffords at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on guns. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association tells CNN that the organization has gained about a half million members since the Newtown, CT shooting. The NRA now has more than 4.5 million members nationwide – a record for the association.
What U.S. president also served as the president of the National Rifle Association?
The influence, personal stories and raw emotion have on politics is what caught our eye today as we watched and listened to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing over new gun regulations and the interpretation of the Second Amendment.
As we focused on the testimony, we couldn’t stop thinking about the personal stories in the news such as the murder of a 15-year-old from Chicago, a victim of an unknown gunman; a shooting in Phoenix just hours ago that’s resulted in multiple victims; and the recent shooting of an intruder by a Georgia woman defending her family. All of these very personal tragedies and triumphs involved a gun, and each will now become part of the national debate over whether new gun regulations are needed in the wake of Newtown.
This debate necessitates a pause to stop and look at the language used on both sides in today’s hearing to state their arguments, and a look at how effective language can be at pulling at the heart strings of people following the debate.
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, who was shot by a gunman outside a supermarket in January 2011:
Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something! It will be hard but the time is now! You must act! Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre:
While we're ready to participate in a meaningful effort to solve these pressing problems, we must respectfully, but honestly and firmly disagree with some members of the committee and many in the media and all the gun control groups on what will keep our kids and keep our streets safe. Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.
We don’t know the outcome of the debate, but we do know that raw emotion will play an important part in shaping the end result.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Quick draw: How the NRA's LaPierre keeps his enemies guessing
Wayne LaPierre is not a large man. He does not move with the easy assurance of a skilled fighter. His head sits low on his neck, and he seems to turn from the shoulders. The tough champion of the Second Amendment has been taking heat since the NRA came out strongly in favor of armed security in every public school in America, days after the deadly shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. But that's what makes LaPierre so formidable: his unflinching willingness to say aloud what many foes consider outrageous. – Tom Foreman
Leading Drudge: GDP -0.1%
U.S. economic momentum screeched to a halt in the final months of 2012, as lawmakers' struggle to reach a deal on tax increases and budget cuts likely led businesses to pare inventories and the government to cut spending. The nation's gross domestic product shrank for the first time in 3 1/2 years during the fourth quarter, declining at an annual rate of 0.1% between October and December, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. – Eric Morath and Sarah Portlock
Leading HuffPo: 'Nobody's Fault': Reid Defends Obama Despite Gitmo Promise
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said at a Tuesday press conference that it was "nobody's fault" the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is still open four years after President Barack Obama promised to close it. Reid blamed Congress for making it “legislatively impossible” to shutter Guantanamo - but offered no sign he will push to loosen restrictions on closing the facility this congressional session. Reid's comments come just one day after the White House reassigned the full-time special envoy working on fulfilling a 2009 Obama executive order to close the Guantanamo camp. – Matt Sledge
Leading Politico: Fiscal fights ding economy
No one is predicting a "double-dip recession" yet — but Wednesday's negative-growth GDP reading put to rest the question of whether Washington’s budget wars can damage the economy. They just did. And with two major fiscal fights looming early this year, it's got policymakers worried there could be more grim news on the horizon for an economy already barely pulling itself out of the doldrums. – Joseph J. Schatz
Leading The New York Times: Giffords Implores Senate to Act at Gun Hearing
Speaking slowly but with discernible passion, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically injured in a mass shooting in Arizona in 2011, addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday in its first hearing since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., last month. Ms. Giffords, who entered a packed hearing room on Capitol Hill, walked slowly by the senators gathered to hear testimony from several witnesses, including her husband Mark E. Kelly, and kissed some of them on the cheeks as she passed. – Jennifer Steinhauer
The political bites of the day
- Ryan bullish on his Medicare proposal, ‘premium support’ -
REPUBLICAN REP. PAUL RYAN OF WISCONSIN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL’S EDITORIAL BOARD:
David Haynes, Editorial Page Editor: Let’s gets to your proposal for Medicare. Is that proposal dead at this point after the election? Has that issue been decided?
Ryan: I don’t think so. First of all, if you talk about politics, we won the senior vote, number one. Number two, these issues have had bipartisan support for a number of years. … The reason why this plan is not dead in the water is because as Obamacare rolls in, as its effects on Medicare are being borne, I believe premium support will compare even more favorably, once the results of IPAD, all the provider changes that are coming into place. … I believe our version of reform, premium support which does not change the benefits for current seniors. I think that version of reform is going to be far more acceptable now that it is being contrasted with the actual results of the presidents healthcare law once it is taking place. The problem is we debated against theory and the president passed his agenda based on rhetoric and theory but he hadn’t implemented it yet. Now that it is going to be implemented and the results are going to be seen, I really believe our ideas will compare even more favorably.
Gut Check Full Service: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out the use of premium support as opposed to vouchers… “ Ryan has used the words ‘premium support’ before to describe what his opponents have called vouchers. He has promised that his plan to provide payments that future retirees would use to purchase private insurance would not affect seniors already in the program.”
- Rubio providing Republicans cover on immigration, says senator -
DEMOCRATIC SEN. BILL NELSON OF FLORIDA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “Remember he (Rubio) had to go on Rush Limbaugh and start convincing Rush Limbaugh who, as recent as last Monday, said no way, Jose. And as a result Marco was successful, and by the way, I complimented him as the two of us stood on the floor of the Senate yesterday. I think he is going to give a lot of cover to Republicans who otherwise would choke on this.”
- Kerry reflects on presidential loss in Senate farewell address -
DEMOCRATIC SEN. JOHN KERRY OF MASSACHUSETTS, THE NEXT SECRETARY OF STATE, IN HIS FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE SENATE: “Eight years ago, I admit that I had a very different plan, slightly different anyway, to leave the Senate. But 61 million Americans voted that they wanted me to stay here with you. And so staying here I learned about humility and I learned that sometimes the greatest lesson in life comes not from victory but from dusting yourself off after a defeat and starting over when you get knocked down. … While I am closing a chapter, it is not the final one. I assure you, amidst the excitement and possibility, I do feel a wistfulness about leaving the United States Senate. That's because despite the obvious frustrations of recent days and years, a frustration that we all share, this place remains one of the most extraordinary institutions of any kind on the face of the earth.”
- Growing up with power: Rahm and Ari -
EZEKIEL EMANUEL WRITES IN VANITY FAIR MAGAZINE ABOUT GROWING UP WITH HIS BROTHERS, RAHM AND ARI EMANUEL: “Rahm was quiet and observant, while Ari was forceful, rambunctious, highly social, and hyperactive, and did more moving than talking. Ari was, in everyone’s eyes, the best-looking of the brothers, a child so cute he could break a window or a lamp and get away with it, ﬂashing his mischievous smile, which said, ‘You can’t possibly stay angry at me, can you?’ … As adults we are constantly checking in with one another by e-mail and phone. It’s not unusual for us to talk four or ﬁve times in a week. Indeed, going a whole week without connecting causes us to worry that something bad has happened.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
NRA's LaPierre: "We have no more sacred duty than to protect our children and keep them safe."—
jennifer bendery (@jbendery) January 30, 2013
NRA bio on Wayne LaPierre handed out at hearing notes that he has "worn a lot of hats," including "political force of nature."—
Kasie Hunt (@kasie) January 30, 2013
Federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 45 percent under Obama. bit.ly/WRrfJW—
Daniel Foster (@DanFosterNRO) January 30, 2013
Sen. Vitter: He respects Sen. Rubio, but Rubio is "amazingly naive" on immigration.—
Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) January 30, 2013
Sen. Robert Menendez calls the Daily Caller "a politically-motivated right-wing blog." politicalwire.com/archives/2013/…—
McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) January 30, 2013
Rand Paul has opposed sending F-16s to Egypt in the past; now, he told a conservative mtg today, he'll propose a ban: buzzfeed.com/rebeccaberg/ra…—
Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) January 29, 2013
Senator named "Mo" > Senator named "Barney"—
The Fix (@TheFix) January 30, 2013
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States, also served as the eighth president of the National Rifle Association.
Though Grant, who also served as the Commanding General of the Army during the Civil War, was the only U.S. president to serve as the head of the NRA, he was far from the only presidential member.
A total of eight presidents have been members of the NRA.. They are Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.
The lobbying group that is now associated with defending the rights of gun owners was founded with the purpose of encouraging better marksmanship:
“Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871,” according to an article on the NRA website. “The primary goal of the association would be to ‘promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,’ according to a magazine editorial written by Church.”
Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside served as the group’s first president, largely because he said he had seen too many Union soldiers who were unable to shoot straight.
Since its founding, the NRA has become a political force. In 1975, it founded its own lobbying operation called the Institute for Legislative Action. In 1977, when Harlon Carter and Neal Knox took over the NRA at their annual meeting in Cincinnati, the group’s focus began to change from marksmanship to defending the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
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