CNN's GUT CHECK for February 1, 2013
February 1st, 2013
05:25 PM ET
1 year ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for February 1, 2013

CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 1, 2013 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING: KERRY SWORN IN AS SECRETARY OF STATE… State Dept Spokesman Victoria Nuland said that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan swore in Secretary of State John Kerry at 4 p.m. Friday. According to a source close to Kerry, Kagan spoke briefly about the privilege and Kerry thanked her, family and staff in brief remarks. At his side, wife Teresa Heinz Kerry looked on, holding a Bible. Kerry’s Senate staff purchased and presented him with his chair from the floor of the Senate that he used for 28 years. – Elise Labott

BROWN OUT: BROWN WON'T SEEK KERRY'S SENATE SEAT Former Sen. Scott Brown said Friday that he won't make a bid this year to return to Capitol Hill. “I have given serious thought about the possibility of running again. … I have received a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters to become a candidate and my competitive instincts were leading in the same direction,” Brown said. “Even so, I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time. And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me. “That is why I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in the upcoming special election.”

Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis)
Scott Brown took one look at yesterday's Hagel hearing and said, "I want to run four times in four years to be part of THAT?"

BIG MONEY: THE $7,000,000,000 CAMPAIGN The 2012 campaign was expensive. Like 70 private islands expensive. In total, candidates, parties and outside groups spent $7 billion during the 2012 election cycle, a record breaking – though not surprising - figure for campaign expenditures, according to the Federal Election Commission. “That's not really unusual. They're all record breaking,” FEC chairwoman Ellen Weintraub said during the panel's meeting Thursday. – Kevin Liptak

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer below)
What did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton name her daughter Chelsea after?

MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

Then Sen. Robert Kennedy choose the Caucus Room of the old Senate office building – the same room where his brother declared he would run for president in 1960 – to announce his run for the White House in 1968.

“I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies,” Kennedy said on March 16, 1968. “I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all I can.”

Stunningly, Lyndon Johnson, the incumbent president, dropped out of the race on March 31, leaving Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota and Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey, as Kennedy’s biggest Democratic challengers.

Standing on a platform of racial justice, a more passive foreign policy and equality, Kennedy’s campaign began to pick up on May 7, when he won the Indiana primary, and on May 14, when he won the Nebraska primary. Going into the June 4 California primary, Kennedy campaign leadership felt that a win there could propel him to a win at the national convention in Chicago.

Kennedy would go onto win the California primary. Taking the stage on June 5 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Kennedy thanked his supporters and rallied for more support. Shortly after leaving the stage, however, tragedy struck when Kennedy was shot and killed in a crowded ballroom kitchen by Sirhan Sirhan.

Kennedy’s tragic death totally distorted the rest of the race. The Chicago convention turned into a struggle for power between the anti-war McCarty and Humphrey, the establishment candidate. Humphrey ended up winning the nomination, but lost to former Vice President Richard Nixon in the general election.

But what if we could erase that day in history and instead have Kennedy go on to secure the Democratic nomination in 1968. Could RFK have won in a match up with Nixon in the general election?

Most said RFK would have won:

Connie Beach Maltin: is there a doubt? Bobby of course!!!

Anthoney Obasi: Yes, I believe so. Hubert only lost by around 500K, and he was the VP under an unpopular LBJ. RFK was an open critic of LBJ.

John Smyre: RFK in landslide

But Nixon was not shut out:

Todd Alexander: It would have been incredibly close. I still think Nixon would have won.

Robert Yoon, CNN Political Research Director: Nixon still wins. The electoral map in 1968 is a little different than it was for JFK in 1960, and not in RFK’s favor. A lot of states JFK won like Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were worth fewer electoral votes 8 years later. RFK could have peeled off some of the states Nixon won in 1968, like Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and maybe Missouri. Maybe Illinois, but that was obviously a close race for JFK. That only gets him to 256 electoral votes. JFK won a bunch of southern states with the help of Johnson, but even if RFK’s anti-poverty efforts energized poor southerners, I think the best he could have hoped for in the south would have been to flip a few Nixon states to George Wallace and a few of the Wallace states to Nixon.

Bob Kovach, CNN coverage manager: “When Kennedy entered the race he started to take over the base that McCarthy had built up and was working to capitalize on that issue in the race. Kennedy had lost Oregon to McCarthy but moved ahead winning California the night he was killed. 1968 was they year of the Tet Offensive, one of the key events of the war which really turned public opinion against US involvement. Nixon did not have a plan to get out of the war at that time and Kennedy was running on getting the US out of Southeast Asia. But because he entered the race so late he may never had gotten the nomination from the party because of the number of delegates both Humphrey and McCarthy had secured.

But one answer we liked because of its awe at the thought … and humility in the face of political prediction:

Jonathan M. Williams: This might have been the most compelling Presidential race of the 20th century...Considering the turbulence of the times, ANY outcome must be treated as plausible.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Clinton's farewell marred by embassy bombing
A final meeting with the president. A farewell address to the State Department staff. A terrorist attack at the U.S. Embassy in Turkey. Hillary Clinton's last day as secretary of state on Friday seemed to be a microcosm of her four globe-trotting years as America's top diplomat. – Tom Cohen

Leading Drudge: How High?
An encouraging U.S. jobs report propelled blue-chip stock above the closely watched 14,000 bulwark on Friday, with investors momentarily downplaying fears about the economic recovery. The government reported that nonfarm payrolls rose 157,000 in January, while the unemployment rate inched up by a tenth of a point, to 7.9 percent. The figures were broadly in line with Wall Street's expectations, and unlikely to change the Federal Reserve's plans to inject the economy with massive stimulus. – Javier E. David

Leading HuffPo: Unemployment Rate Up, 28 Days Til Cuts
The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs last month, as the unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.9 percent, the Labor Department revealed in the January jobs report, released Friday.

Leading Politico: Thank Hillary Clinton (and leave your data too)!
Dear reader: A Democratic interest group needs you – yes, you! – to help thank Hillary Clinton for her service as secretary of State.
Over the last week, countless thousands of liberal-leaning voters have received emails from advocacy organizations enlisting them in a triumphant sendoff for the former first lady. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign have all contacted supporters with a simple request: sign a thank-you card for Clinton and show her how much you care. – Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman

Leading The New York Times: Energy Secretary to Depart, as Administration Vacancies Mount
Energy Secretary Steven Chu will leave office soon, possibly by the end of this month, he told colleagues in an e-mail this morning, according to Energy Department employees. His departure had been widely expected, although as late as Thursday afternoon he was refusing to answer questions on the subject. The open slot at the Energy Department adds to a constellation of vacancies at the top of related agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Transportation Department and the Interior Department. – Matthew Wald

TRAIL MOMENTS
The political bites of the day

– Clinton says goodbye –
HILLARY CLINTON IN HER FAREWELL SPEECH AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT: “I'm proud of the work we've done to elevate diplomacy and development, to serve the nation we all love, to understand the challenges, the threats and the opportunities that the United States faces and to work with all our heart and all of our might to make sure that America is secure, that our interests are promoted and our values are respected. … I know that the world we are trying to help bring into being in the 21st century will have many difficult days but I am more optimistic today than when I stood here four years ago because I have seen, day after day, the many contributions that our diplomats and development experts are making to help ensure that this century provides the kind of peace, progress and prosperity that not just the United States by the entire world, especially young people, so richly deserve.”

– White House labels Turkey bombing a terrorist attack… –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING: “A suicide bombing in the perimeter of an embassy is by definition an act of terror. It is a terrorist attack. However, we do not know at this point who is responsible for the motivations behind the attack. The attack itself was clearly an act of terror.”

– … while State defends the embassy security in Ankara –
VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN, AT A PRESS BRIEFING: “The level of security protection at our facility in Ankara ensured that there were not significantly more deaths and injuries than there could have been. … Where this happened was on an external perimeter access site far from the main building. It is that kind of setback, that kind of hardening, that kind of structure that we've been working on over the past ten years that actually ensured that this wasn't far worse than it could have been.”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Jessica Yellin (@YellinCNN)
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan is retiring, effective Feb 22d, per SS source. After 30 years in the service + 1 Cartagena headache.

BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed)
George W. Bush's Scottish terrier Barney has died. RIP Barney :( pic.twitter.com/dpR4le0d

Karen Travers (@karentravers)
In an interview with @ABC's @dianesawyer in 2003, Bush 43 referred to Barney as "a fabulous little guy. He's the son I never had."

Marlena Baldacci (@MarlenaCNN)
CONFIRMED: Former NYC Mayor Ed #Koch died this morning of congestive heart failure at the age of 88, per his spokesman #CNN #RIP

Michael Paulson (@MichaelPaulson)
"No matter where you're going today, take the Edward I. Koch Bridge to get there. He would love it." – @MikeBloomberg at @GrandCentralNYC

Jamie McGeever (@ReutersJamie)
Dow 14,000, first time since Oct. 2007 (record high 14,164 from same month). Not sure what's more absurd – Dow at 14,000 then, or now.

Tony Fratto (@TonyFratto)
Every time the Dow reaches 14000 we get a recession and financial crisis.

Erica M. Simmons (@ericamsimmons)
HHS offers contraception insurance option: The new plan attempts to resolve the contentious issue... http://bit.ly/11u3j0f #politics #cnn

Herman Cain (@THEHermanCain)
ObamaCare still mandates contraception coverage, but here's the White House's latest attempt to pretend it doesn't http://t.co/PNbQx0FR

Robert Yoon (@yoonCNN)
Sorry, @NatsBigChief27. You look more like funnyman Rip Taylor than William Howard Taft. @letteddywin @Teddy26Nats pic.twitter.com/9yjM2RJJ

TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was named after a Joni Mitchell song called “Chelsea Morning.”

Bill and Hillary reportedly loved the song and even though it was released in 1969, they used it to name their only child in 1980.

The word “Chelsea” in the song actually referred to the New York City neighborhood and the song was inspired by the Chelsea apartment that Mitchell lived in.

“Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I heard
was a song outside my window,” Mitchell sings in the song’s first lyrics. “And the traffic wrote the words, It came a-reeling up like Christmas bells, and rapping up like pipes and drums.”

Chelsea Clinton has long been a child in the national spotlight. Chelsea spent eight years growing up in the White House and now works closely with her father’s high profile foundation, the Clinton Foundation. When her mother ran for president in 2008, Clinton was regularly seen on the campaign trail, especially speaking on college campuses.

Hillary Clinton said in her exit interview with CNN that she hopes to work with her daughter in the coming years.

CNN’s Jill Dougherty: You’ve got President Clinton, International health. Chelsea, who studied international health. You are interested in women, development, health issues. What do you do? Is there a chance that you would all work together?

Clinton: I hope so. I mean that is one of the things that we all have to work out. I am very proud of what my husband has done in the last 10 years. I mean, his foundation, his entrepreneurial philanthropy with the Clinton Global Initiative, his work on getting the price of AIDS drugs down so that more people can get treatment and so much else. And he has also focused on the health of children here in this country, through the healthy alliance. He is doing things that resonate with me, as well as with him. We are going to see how we can join our efforts together.

GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to Laura Chapin (@LauraChapin) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Happy Friday all.

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