CNN's GUT CHECK | for July 15, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
A DAY OF CONTRASTS:
A “MORE TOXIC” CONGRESS: A last-ditch effort to head off the “nuclear option” will come Monday night, when all senators are scheduled to attend a closed session that Republicans requested in the historic Old Senate chamber. – Ted Barrett
OBAMACARE ON THE TRAIL… Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says its “premier” issue of 2014 and Jeremy Funk of Americans United for Change counters that it will be a new “third rail in politics.”
MEANWHILE… OBAMA PRAISES BUSH: President Barack Obama honored former President George H.W. Bush by celebrating the Republican leader’s service initiative – the “Daily Point of Light Award.” Neil Bush, the former president’s son, showered praise on both his father and Obama: “We are so blessed in America to have two points of light in your own ways and we thank you for your leadership in the area.”
… AND HOLDER SHARES CONCERN ON TRAYVON: ATTORNEY GENERAL CALLS SHOOTING ‘TRAGIC, UNNECESSARY’: “We are also mindful of the pain felt by our nation surrounding the tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida last year,” Holder said in a Washington speech. “And we are cognizant of the fact that the state trial reached its conclusion over the weekend. As parents, as engaged citizens and as leaders who stand vigilant against violence in communities across the country the Deltas are deeply and rightly concerned about this case. The Justice Department shares your concern. I share you concern.”
MARKET WATCH: With today’s close, the Dow and S&P 500 have once again set new closing records. Dow rose 20 pts. to 15,484.34 – it’s 26th record close this year.
Who have a few biographers called the “first forgotten president”?
What caught our eye today in politics
A law that was signed 1,210 days ago is front and center in the midterm elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Obamacare – President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law – will be “the premier issue in the 2014 election.”
“This is a big controversial issue,” McConnell said. “It is not going away.”
His counterpart in the House, Speaker John Boehner, struck a similar tone in an e-mail to reporters.
“Obamacare is by no means wonderful for the country,” Boehner said. “It’s a 'huge train wreck,' for workers, schools, low-income families, small businesses, supermarkets, burger joints, hospitals, retirees, local governments – you name it.”
On the other side, outside groups like Americans United for Change are lining up to defend the law in 2014.
“We need to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible to get the marketplaces and exchanges up and retuning,” Jeremy Funk, the communications director for Americans United for Change, told Gut Check.
“This is a matter of major public health,” Funk said, “Yes, we want to see the implementation go as smoothly as possible. Yes, it is very important.”
Both Boehner and McConnell stress that regardless of implementation, Obamacare is a winning issue for them in 2014 and they plan to keep hammering away at the measure.
Funk disagrees. “We are completely confident that once people realize the full benefits of the law, it is quickly going to become the third rail in politics, just like Social Security and Medicare before it,” he said.
With both sides viewing Obamacare as a winning issue, the competing ads, Sunday show posturing and calls for repeal are bound to give seasoned political audience deja vu.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Despite outrage, federal charges uncertain in Zimmerman case
In the emotional aftermath of the Trayvon Martin killing last year, Attorney General Eric Holder signaled the unlikelihood of filing federal hate crimes charges against admitted shooter George Zimmerman. – Carol Cratty and Tom Cohen
Donna Brazile’s take: “There is no winner here. Trayvon Martin is still dead and George Zimmerman still must live with the fact that he killed without reason or cause…If we are to move forward as a country we must recognize that this case highlights three issues we must confront honestly, among them: We are not a post-racial society.”
Leading Drudge: DOJ’s Race Case Faces FBI Block
After interviewing nearly three dozen people in the George Zimmerman murder case, the FBI found no evidence that racial bias was a motivating factor in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, records released Thursday show. Even the lead detective in the case, Sanford Det. Chris Serino, told agents that he thought Zimmerman profiled Trayvon because of his attire and the circumstances — but not his race. – Frances Robles and Scott Hiaason
Leading HuffPo: 'It's A Charade': GOP Makes Preposterous Offer To Dems
The Senate is locked in a filibuster fight that GOP leaders claim could ultimately destroy the chamber. At the center of this showdown sit President Barack Obama's nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, the five-member body that enforces labor law on businesses and their workers. Democrats are demanding Republicans pledge not to filibuster the president's picks for the panel, which will not have enough board members to function in August if the stalemate isn't broken. – Dave Jamieson
Leading Politico: Reid digs in as Senate nears nuclear option showdown
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t backing down from the “nuclear option” as Democrats and Republicans clash ahead of a rare meeting in the Old Senate Chamber. But a group of Republicans are talking to the Democratic leader on Monday, hoping to meld a “framework” that would allow the Senate to head off the historic rules change proposed by the Democrats, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told POLITICO after meeting with Reid Monday afternoon. – John Bresnahan and Burgess Everett
Leading The New York Times: No Quick Impact in U.S. Arms Plan for Syria Rebels
A month ago, Obama administration officials promised to deliver arms and ammunition to the Syrian rebels in the hope of reversing the tide of a war that had turned against an embattled opposition. But interviews with American, Western and Middle Eastern officials show that the administration’s plans are far more limited than it has indicated in public and private. – Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt and Erin Banco
The political bites of the day
– Texas attorney general running for governor –
GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL, AT AN EVENT ANNOUNCING HIS CAMPAIGN IN SAN ANTONIO: “When it comes to our freedom and our future, I will never, I will never stop fighting. And that's why I am asking you, the people of Texas, to let me as your next governor.”
– Holder wants elevated conversation after Zimmerman trial –
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER AT A SPEECH IN WASHINGTON: “We must not – as we have too often in the past – let this opportunity pass. I hope that we will approach this necessarily difficult dialogue with the same dignity that those who have lost the most, Trayvon's parents, have demonstrated throughout the last year - and especially over the past few days. They suffered a pain that no parent should have to endure - and one that I, as a father, cannot begin to conceive.”
– State Department is look for incremental steps in Egypt –
SPOKESWOMAN JEN PSAKI AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT PRESS BRIEFING: “We know that the process will take time and what's important is seeing steps that the interim government is taking and hopefully will take to be more inclusive – there's no question the need to reduce current political polarization and take steps to do that, we remain concerned about violence on the ground but we'll take it day by day and communicate our concerns and our urgings as needed.”
– Beleaguered Boehner –
NY MAG'S JENNIFER SENIOR GETS CHOCOLA ON THE RECORD COMPLIMENTING PELOSI, RAISING QUESTIONS ABOUT BOEHNER: “She was willing to risk her position to pass Obamacare. Her caucus was against it, the polls were against it, and she risked it. She lost her job in the process, but I suspect she’s okay with that. The fact that she did is a lesson Republicans should learn: Do something you believe in enough to risk your job. He’s not going to drive the outcome. He’s going to manage the outcome.” LINK
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Let’s be clear: George Washington was the first president of the United States.
But some historians and biographers have argued that John Hanson, a politician from Maryland, was the first president of the United States. Under the Articles of Confederation, a precursor of the Constitution, Hanson served one year as President of the Continental Congress.
Because of this, a handful of biographies argued that Hanson should be called the first president of the United States. In 1898, a descendant of Hanson, Douglas H. Thomas, promoted this idea. So did journalist Seymour Wemyss Smith in 1932.
Many other historians, however, said this work was shoddy and not based on primary source knowledge.
Plus, Hanson's responsibilities were remarkably different than Washington's. Under the Articles of Confederation there was no executive branch, and therefore, Hanson was not “president.” In many ways, Hanson's role was ceremonial, more than decision making.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Jonathan Gormley (@JonathanGormley) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question. Welcome back.
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