CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 20, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING: WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF KNEW OF IRS REPORT BEFORE ITS RELEASE… New details emerged Monday of what the White House knew about the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, with spokesman Jay Carney disclosing Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was among the top officials made aware of the matter late last month. – Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen
TRUSTWORTHY AND LIKEABLE: Barack Obama's personal popularity may be one reason he has been able to weather last week's controversies, and his handling of those matters may have helped boost his standing with the public on a couple of key measures. Is Obama honest and trustworthy? 58% say yes, a number that has remained virtually unchanged for Obama since 2009. Obama remains a remarkably likeable figure in American politics - 79% of Americans say he is likeable, underscoring how important his personal characteristics have been to him. That finding suggests that the public is responding favorably to Obama's stern reaction in recent days and hints that, far from catching blame for the latest controversies, Obama may actually be benefiting from them in some ways. – Keating Holland
2016: FIRST ON CNN: RAND PAUL DONATES $10,000 TO NEW HAMPSHIRE GOP… Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has donated $10,000 to the New Hampshire Republican Party, stoking further speculation he is eyeing a run for president. And just hours before he headlined a New Hampshire GOP fundraiser, Paul expressed support for the New Hampshire primary. – Mark Preston
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end slightly lower after major merger news. All three indexes fall 0.1%.
Why did the White House close two blocks of Pennsylvania Ave. in front of the White House in 1995?
The effort to get women elected to public office has been an ongoing priority for both political parties for more than two decades. Both groups have seen successful – most recently in 2013 when record numbers of women were elected to the House of Representatives and Senate.
Even in light of those successes, however, a group committed to electing Republicans at the local and state level said Monday that local GOP organizations can be a “male dominated club” that makes it difficult for women to get elected.
“I think it is safe to say that there are institutional barriers,” Chris Jankowski, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, said about local women candidates at a meeting with reporters. “We have met with candidates, women who have felt they weren’t part of the old boy’s network.”
He continued: “It can be a bit of a male dominated club at that level and it is important that they (women) feel welcome.”
In order to combat that, Jankowski and the RSLC will continue a project the organization launched in 2012 – “Right Women, Right Now” – where the group will help identify and support female Republican candidates running for local office in the 2013 off-year elections. In 2012, the group helped 185 women in 36 states, totaling more than $3 million for those down ticket races.
“What we find is we have plenty of candidates, we just have to come in and support them and give them the tools they need and the resources,” Jankowski said.
Efforts like this are becoming the norm in partisan circles – with the key word being partisan, as nearly all efforts to get women elected to public office come with a political bent – Democrat or Republican, pro-life or pro-choice.
Earlier this month, when the liberal organization Emily’s List announced its “Madam President” campaign, an effort to help elect a woman president (dare we say former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) , Gut Check wrote about the need for a non-partisan organization dedicated to getting women elected.
“We are not here to take sides in the policy battles that separate Democrats and Republicans on women’s issues, but rather to try and detangle the politics from the underlying issue that the country is indeed ready for a woman to be president,” we wrote. “We just wonder if this ‘Madam President’ campaign would be stronger had politics been cast aside and likeminded Democratic and Republican groups joined together to help break the final glass ceiling in politics.”
For us, nothing has changed since we first wrote that column.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: First on CNN: RNC raises $7.2 million in April
The Republican National Committee raised $7.2 million in April, one month after releasing its rebranding and outreach efforts following the presidential election loss in 2012. Last month's cash haul brings the committee's cash-on-hand total to $9.8 million, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will announce Monday.
Leading Drudge: DOJ Targeted FoxNews Reporter
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material. – Ann E. Marimow
Leading HuffPo: Green Thumbs: Surprise Allies Emerge On Controversial Cause
Kentucky's two senators, Republicans Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, have been working to include a provision that would legalize industrial hemp into the farm bill, according to Senate and Kentucky sources, an effort that is likely to result in a floor vote on the issue this week. – Ryan Grim
Leading Politico: Obama's newest ally: John McCain
President Barack Obama has an important new ally as emboldened Republicans work to derail his agenda: John McCain. The shift is striking: The 2008 rivals never got along throughout Obama’s first term in office. McCain has been Obama’s chief tormentor on issues ranging from the budget to Benghazi, tartly saying in late 2010 that the two men had “no relationship.” – Manu Raju
Leading The New York Times: Larger Union That Enforces Immigration Opposes Bill
A labor union representing 12,000 federal officers who issue immigration documents will join forces on Monday with the union representing deportation agents to publicly oppose a bill overhauling the immigration system that is making its way through the Senate, arguing that the legislation would weaken public safety. – Julia Preston
The political bites of the day
– Carney: The Hill also knew –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “We know that the Hill also got briefings. As Congressman Issa said he was aware of – quote "approximately" unquote – what was in the report, but he rightly chose to not take action because the cardinal rule is to not intervene in an independent investigation or take any steps that could be seen as intervening. That is what we abided by and that is what any White House should do.”
– ‘Harder than ever to restrict human freedom –
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY IN REMARKS TO REPORTERS AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT: “It is also true that it is harder than ever to restrict human freedom. It has never been easier in all of human history for people to share their views, to find information, to connect with others, even to send messages of desperation that ask for help or that shed light on abuses that are taking place because of instant communication. So while serious challenges to religious freedom remain, I also could not be more optimistic about the prospects for freedom around the world because there are great prospects for accountability around the world.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Wow. Reporter asks Carney what "makes this country different" than countries that "monitor the press."—
Brett LoGiurato (@BrettLoGiurato) May 20, 2013
Carney won't say if Obama believes a reporter who tries to obtain classified information from a source is committing a crime.—
Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) May 20, 2013
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Until this day in 1995, the two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue between 15th and 17th streets was open to traffic with cars able to drive just a few hundred feet from the White House.
Heeding fears of an Oklahoma City style bombing, those two blocks, which reportedly carried 26,000 cars a day, were closed to traffic on this day in 1995. The decision came after the Secret Service, the Treasury Department and a panel of experts suggested the defensive change.
“The head of Secret Service, Eljay Bowron, said that as long as the avenue remained open, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to explode a bomb in front of the White House,” the Sun Sentinel reported on the change. “Clinton said it would have been irresponsible to ignore advice to close the street.”
The Oklahoma City Bombing, which took place in April of 1995, loomed large over D.C. because many of the government buildings in the area were vulnerable to a car bomb attack. Following the bombing, which killed 168 people, security at nearly all government buildings around the country was heightened.
At 5 a.m. Saturday morning, concrete barricades went up on the two streets until more permanent security measures were put in place. Today, the street is a pedestrian mall with permanent security structures blocking off the area.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Peter Ubertaccio (@ProfessorU) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question. Good way to start the week.
Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing email@example.com
WANT TO SIGN UP?
Do you have a friend who wants to sign up for GUT CHECK or our new CNNPolitics Breaking News Alerts? Click here, log on and scroll down.