CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 18, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
TUNE IN: FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and other law enforcement officials will hold a news conference at 5 p.m. ET to discuss the Boston Marathon bombing. CNN will cover this event live.
LASTEST FROM BOSTON: A source who receives regular intelligence briefings on the Boston bombings tells CNN that two individuals whose photographs were circulated to law enforcement agencies on Wednesday are no longer of high interest to investigators. The source said the two individuals had been considered potentially important to the investigation yesterday, but are less so today. One of the individuals had been carrying a black back-pack close to the scene of one of the bombings that appeared similar to one recovered at the scene. – Deborah Feyerick
GUNS: REID TO SHELVE GUN BILL… Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday he'll set aside proposed gun legislation without a final vote following the defeat a day earlier of major provisions sought by President Barack Obama and Democrats in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre. “(Obama) and I agreed that the best way to keep working towards passing a background check bill is to hit pause, and freeze the background check bill where it is,” he said on the Senate floor. “This will allow senators to keep negotiating.” – Dana Bash
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end lower, dragged down by tech and bank shares. Dow falls 79 points. NASDAQ loses 1.2%, S&P dips 0.7%.
Who is the poorest member of the United States Senate?
When President Barack Obama stepped to the podium at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston today, he had quite a bit of experience delivering the type of speech he was about to give.
It was only in December when Obama attempted to comfort the hurting in Newtown, Connecticut after 20 children and six adults were murdered in a shooting spree at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. In Jan. 2011, the president attempted to console the victims in the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the Tucson, Arizona community she represented.
And after a tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri in May 2011, Obama told families who lost everything including loved ones that he was there to help.
Many of Obama’s most memorable moments as president have come in response to national tragedy; much like we have seen with former President George W. Bush (who cannot remember Bush standing on a rubble pile at Ground Zero), and former President Bill Clinton delivering a gripping speech after the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City. It is moments like these where it seems more appropriate to call the commander-in-chief the counselor-in-chief.
And Thursday was no different for Obama, who peppered his remarks with a mix of sorrow, resilience, but without losing a pledge to find who committed this heinous act.
“As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you,” Obama said. “Your commonwealth is with you. Your country is with you. We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again. That I have no doubt you will run again.”
As we noted, Obama is not the first president to thrive in moments of great sorrow. After the 1995 bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, an attack that killed 168 people and wounded over 600, then-President Clinton also shone in the role of playing mourner-in-chief.
And to some, it rejuvenated his presidency after a year of difficulty.
“It was the nation's first exposure to Clinton as mourner in chief,” wrote Michael Waldman in his book POTUS Speaks. “In fact, it was the first time Clinton had been a reassuring figure rather than an unsettling one."
Before the Oklahoma City Bombing, Clinton had been beaten on healthcare and he saw Republicans take back control of the House and Senate. After the bombing, Clinton advanced his presidency on the issue of fighting home grown terrorism.
“Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear,” Clinton said during the speech. “When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. In the face of death, let us honor life. As St. Paul admonished us, let us not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Obama used a similar tone in Thursday’s speech to a mourning Boston audience.
“You showed us, Boston, that in the face of evil Americans will lift up what's good,” Obama said. “In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion. In the face of those who would inflict death upon innocence, we will choose to save in the comfort and to heal.”
In what seems like a throwback to his predecessor, Obama spoke right to the perpetrators of the bombing that killed three and injured over 180. “Yes, we will find you,” he said. “And, yes, you will face justice.”
It was nearly 12 years ago when Bush, with a bullhorn in one hand and his arm draped around a firefighter, delivered what can only be described as a raw, off the cuff pledge to the nation that justice would be served to those involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Manchin, Kelly vow to fight for expanded background checks
The Democrat who worked to expand background checks in the Senate told a group of reporters Thursday that the National Rifle Association's “scoring system,” in which the group grades members of Congress, combined with members' fear of being seen as flip-floppers, derailed the measure. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, who worked alongside Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, said the NRA's decision to include votes on the bipartisan amendment in its important rankings dissuaded members in pro-gun states from stepping up. “If they hadn't scored it, we'd have gotten 70 votes,” he said. “I predict 70 votes without a scoring.” He also vowed to bring the measure back at some point for a vote. – Gloria Borger and Kevin Bohn
Leading Drudge: Texas Inferno; Dozens Feared Dead
Emergency responders in West are still searching for survivors after a massive explosion Wednesday night shook the town near Waco, flattening parts of it, killing five to 15 people and injuring many more. State officials are beginning to investigate what sparked the massive explosion about 8 p.m. Wednesday at the West Fertilizer Co. According to The Fertilizer Institute, a national trade organization in Washington, D.C., anhydrous ammonia was stored at the facility for sale to farmers.
Leading HuffPo: Early Warning: Conservative Opposition to Rubio Push Grows
The limits of Marco Rubio's persuasive powers and charm, and the depth of conservative reservations about immigration reform, are beginning to show themselves. Rubio, the Republican Florida senator who is spearheading outreach to the Republican base and to conservative talk radio hosts, was unable to persuade one of the top radio figures on the right to support the Senate's immigration reform effort when he appeared on The Mark Levin Show Wednesday night. – Jon Ward
Leading Politico: President Obama to Boston: 'You will run again'
President Barack Obama delivered a message of resilience and recovery as he renewed his pledge that the country would stand by this city still recovering from Monday’s Marathon bombings — and that those responsible would be found. “We may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we’ll pick ourselves up, we’ll keep going. We will finish the race,” he said, speaking at the end of the interfaith “Healing Our City” service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. – Jennifer Epstein and Reid J. Epstein
Leading The New York Times: Gun Control Effort Had No Real Chance, Despite Pleas
The defeat of several measures in the Senate made it clear that while the national sentiment about stemming the menace of guns in the wrong hands has shifted, the political dynamic has not. – Jennifer Steinhauer
The political bites of the day
– Senators announce immigration compromise –
REPUBLICAN SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ANNOUNCING THE IMMIGRATION BILL: “To our fellow citizens, we know Congress has been broken. This is an effort by four Democrats and four Republicans to prove to you and the rest of the members of the Senate, and eventually the House, it doesn't have to stay broken.”
– Shame on Republicans in Gang of 8, says King –
REPUBLICAN REP. STEVE KING OF IOWA IN A WRITTEN PRESS RELEASE: “The Gang of Eight’s bill is aggressive and outrageous amnesty. … I expected this from Democrats who have long understood their brand of more taxes, more borrowing, and more government giveaways, and know how to sell it. It is the Republicans who should know better. Republicans who support this bill have effectively said to Americans, ‘We are prepared to sacrifice the Rule of Law on the altar of misguided and erroneous political expediency’.”
– Boehner says Congress has steep learning curve for immigration –
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER AT HIS WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: “About three-fourths of the members of Congress have never dealt with the issue of immigration. So there's a big learning curve that the members are going to have to go through. That's why our whip, Kevin McCarthy, has been holding sessions attended by members being briefed by (House Judiciary Committee) Chairman Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy, the Immigration subcommittee chairman, to help familiarize members with the various issues within legal immigration and the problem of illegal immigration.”
– Holder expresses ‘anger’ at Wednesday’s gun vote –
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER AT A HEARING ON CAPITOL HILL: “Despite my disappointment – and, quite frankly, my frustration, I think even my anger – at the filibuster in the Senate yesterday that led to the failure to adopt some of these changes, despite the fact that a majority voted for them – I and my colleagues throughout the administration remain committed to standing with the families of Newtown; with countless others who have lost their lives in senseless acts of gun violence across the country; and with all whose lives and futures are shattered by this violence every day in our city streets.”
– Pelosi says gun vote an example of voting for political survival –
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI AT HER WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE ON CAPITOL HILL: “It always makes me wonder at a time like this how important we each think we are, that any one of us thinks that our survival politically is more important than the safety of our children, that we can't have the courage to take a vote.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
DNC is blasting its list to collect "200,000 signatures demanding action on background checks."—
Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) April 18, 2013
Update: Sen. Heitkamp still avoiding questions. Did the cell phone trick on her way in for vote—
Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) April 18, 2013
AG Eric Holder said DOJ has not yet made a decision on how to react to the legalization of pot laws in Wash and Colorado.—
Sari Horwitz (@SariHorwitz) April 18, 2013
Tourist O/H on the Hill: "Is it like Coke and Pepsi fighting each other, the House and the Senate?"—
Rachel Streitfeld (@streitfeldcnn) April 18, 2013
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
The average wealth of a freshman member of Congress in 2012 was $1,066,500, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
But don’t tell freshman Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut.
According to CRP, Murphy is worth $7,502, largely because the young lawmaker owes between $30,000 and $100,000 in student loan debt. This debt earns Murphy the illustrious title: “poorest member of the United States Senate."
Before being elected to the Senate in 2012, Murphy represented Connecticut as a member of the U.S. House. He has been in elected office since 1999, when he was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
Lack of personal deep pockets, however, hasn't held Murphy back. In order to win his Senate seat in 2012, he had to defeat former WWE chairwoman Linda McMahon, who spent a whopping $48 million of her own money on the race. Murphy raised $10.5 million in that race.
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