CNN's GUT CHECK for January 28, 2014
January 28th, 2014
06:10 PM ET
8 months ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for January 28, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 28, 2014 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

CNN'S SPECIAL COVERAGE OF THE STATE OF THE UNION
STARTS ON TELEVISION AT 7 P.M. ET

CHOOSE YOUR SECOND SCREEN …
Pizza, Wings & the President of the United States: Watch the HambyCast on CNN.com, in which @PeterHambyCNN does political play by play during the speech with @TVietor08 and @Timodc
Liveblog: Follow along CNN’s coverage including notable quotes, tweets and commentary
Tweet of the Union: Follow all of the members of Congress as they tweet, sort by party & gender

A DEFINING MOMENT FOR OBAMA… Three numbers to keep in mind Tuesday night as President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address: six, 30 and 43. Six as in the number of seats Republicans need to gain this November to take control of the Senate. 30: The historical average of House seats gained by the other party - in this case the Republicans - in a two-term president's "six-year itch" midterm election. And 43%, of course, is Obama's job approval rating - a reminder that his political standing is weak, though up slightly from its recent low point, as he stands before a closely divided Congress - and country - to lay out his agenda for year six of his presidency. – John King

HOURS BEFORE THE SPEECH, OBAMA INCREASES MINIMUM WAGE FOR FEDERAL CONTRACT WORKERS … The action will cover all workers employed under future government contracts, ensuring that none is paid less than $10.10 an hour. The White House highlighted several occupations that will be helped by the move, including kitchen and laundry workers on military bases, as well as janitors at federal buildings and construction workers at government building sites. – Adam Aigner-Treworgy

BOEHNER WARNS OBAMA HEADED FOR A ‘BRICK WALL’: "This idea that he's just going to go it alone, I have to remind him we do have a constitution. And the Congress writes the laws, and the president's job is to execute the laws faithfully and if he tries to ignore this he's going to run into a brick wall …Were just not going to sit here and let the president trample all over us." – Dana Bash, Candy Crowley and Jake Tapper

– Reid Doubles Down: Candidates should run with Obama –
SEN. HARRY REID IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S DANA BASH RESPONDING TO A QUESTION ABOUT VULNERABLE DEMOCRATS APPEARING WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA AT CAMPAIGN EVENTS: "Yes and they will.”

Hours after the interview, Peter Hamby emails, “Mary Burke is running against Scott Walker and not taking Harry Reid's advice, apparently....”

Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki tells CNN that Burke will not appear with the president when he goes to Wisconsin on Thursday, "Mary has a full campaign schedule that day in Western Wisconsin."

THE BUZZ: ‘DUCK DYNASTY' IN THE HOUSE
'Duck Dynasty' star Willie Robertson will attend Tuesday night's State of the Union address as a guest of Rep. Vance McAllister. Robertson campaigned for McAllister, the newly elected congressman from Louisiana, last fall. Robertson himself was called on by some in the GOP to run for the seat, but he backed his friend, McAllister, instead. McAllister won the special election in November for Louisiana's 5th Congressional district, a race that pitted two Republicans against each other. – Ashley Killough

MARKET WATCH: Dow ends 5-session losing streak with 89-point gain as emerging market fears ease. S&P 500 and NASDAQ end higher.

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer below)
Who was the first person invited to sit in the presidential box during a SOTU address and be used as a prop during the speech?

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics.com: White House adds GM exec, immigration activist, Georgia school shooting hero to SOTU guest list
The White House released additional names of guests invited to join the first lady for Tuesday's State of the Union address. Among those attending the speech will be Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Company and the first woman to run a major global automaker. Antoinette Tuff, a Georgia bookkeeper deemed a hero after talking down a school shooter, will also join the first lady, along with immigration activist Cristian Avila, who joined the fasting protest in Washington last year.

Leading Drudge: APPLE POLAR VORTEX
Apple Inc. reported selling fewer iPhones than projected at year-end and said revenue in the current quarter might decline, sending its shares down sharply in after-hours trading. The results highlighted new dynamics and intensifying competition in the smartphone market. Apple continues to target the market for high-end phones, even as demand accelerates for lower-cost models, particularly in emerging markets. But Apple is resisting the urge to release a truly low-cost phone that could crimp profitability. – Daisuke Wakabayashi

Leading HuffPo: Obama's State Of The Union Guests Still Eager To See His Vision Achieved
In the early winter of 2010, Gabriela Farfan was a freshman at Stanford University planning a career in environmental science. She had been fascinated with the subject since growing up in Madison, Wis. One day, she got a phone call from an unknown number. It was the White House calling to tell her the president wanted her to be a guest of the first family at the State of the Union address. But four years after she attended the State of the Union, Farfan is worried about the state of her field. She currently has a grant from the National Science Foundation (three years at roughly $30,000 a year). But she sees a funding pinch taking its toll. – Sam Stein

Leading Politico: Ryan Loskarn leaves letter
Jesse Ryan Loskarn, the former top Senate GOP aide who committed suicide last week, said in a letter released by his family that he was sexually abused as a child, and the horror from that episode eventually led him down a path toward possessing child pornography. In a typed letter just over two pages long and posted online by his mother late Monday night, Loskarn revealed in vivid detail his personal experiences and apologized profusely for possessing child pornography, which led to his arrest by federal agents on Dec. 11.- John Bresnahan

Leading New York Times: Backing in G.O.P. for Legal Status for Immigrants
The House Republican leadership’s broad framework for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws will call this week for a path to legal status — but not citizenship — for many of the 11 million adult immigrants who are in the country illegally, according to aides who have seen the party’s statement of principles. For immigrants brought to the United States illegally as young children, the Republicans would offer a path to citizenship. – Jonathon Weisman and Ashley Parker

HOT SOTS
The political bites of the day

– Coburn ‘My treatment is no longer covered’-
SEN. TOM COBURN, R-OKLAHOMA, ON MSNBC’S MORNING JOE: “I’ve got great docs. Fortunately, even though my new coverage won’t cover my specialist, I have great care and I’m going to have a great prognosis.”

– Palin has McCain’s back –
FORMER ALASKA GOV. SARAH PALIN ON HER FACEBOOK PAGE: "I consider Senator John McCain an American hero and a friend. He fights to remind our President that the federal government's first priority must be strong defense of our homeland … He fights against big-spending colleagues who don't prioritize for our military's needs."

– McConnell: Obama can’t save everyone –
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “Does he want to be a hero to the left or a champion to the middle class? He can’t be both. He’s got to choose. He can double down on the failed policies that brought us to this point. That would make his base pretty happy I’m sure. But we certainly know where that path leads for the middle class.”

– Whitman on McMorris Rodgers for GOP response: ‘It’s not about the messenger. It’s about the message’ –
FORMER NJ GOV. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: "It's hard for me to phrase this politely. Sometimes Republicans think that just putting a woman up front means somehow that women are going to feel good about the party. It is not about the messenger. It's about the message. And until we figure that one out, while it's nice that we have a woman as a spokesperson, if the message itself doesn't get changed a bit, it's not going to work. But I think it is an attempt to say we've got prominent, articulate women, and she will certainly fill that role. And that's great. But that's not going to be enough to win over women at the polls.”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Deirdre Walsh ‏(@deirdrewalshcnn)
Several House Dems sitting/working in prime aisle seats now in chamber to save for prime TV spot tonite – Reps Al Green, B Lee, S Bishop

Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck)
This is all so dramatic RT @Stcrow: President Obama en route Oval Office before delivering tonight's #SOTU address.

Shira T. Center ‏(@shiracenter)
Obama's post-#SOTU swing conveniently avoids states w/ vulnerable Dem senators http://roll.cl/1eeePqy via @KyleTrygstad

Mike Memoli ‏(@mikememoli)
Forget GOP: There are actually multiple Paul family #SOTU responses, apparently https://twitter.com/RonPaul/status/428259441712967680

Alex Pappas ‏(@AlexPappas)
Rand will say tonight: "Only the democracy of the marketplace can find those capable of creating jobs.” http://dailycaller.com/2014/01/28/what-rand-paul-plans-to-say-in-his-state-of-the-union-rebuttal/#ixzz2rj5Ltiqi

Mike O'Brien ‏(@mpoindc)
Well, there's some news from Romney on Fox: He said he won't endorse in 2016 GOP primary. Will wait until there's a nominee.

Senator Jeff Merkley (‏@SenJeffMerkley)
Thank you President Obama for raising the wage for federal contract workers. No one should have to raise a family in poverty.

Jack Furnari ‏(@JackBPR)
Krauthammer to conservatives: Relax, Obama’s executive orders a ‘pathetic’ bluff http://bit.ly/MqQXWO via @BizPacReview

(NJ State) Senator Bob Singer (‏@bobsingernj)
Im concerned Dems r taking this committee down a partisan path, away from a fair & transparent fact-finding mission. http://www.senatenj.com/index.php/singer/singer-can-we-really-believe-that-these-chairpersons-have-a-nonpartisan-approach/16463#more-16463

Manu Raju (@mkraju)
"Hemp is a different plant" than marijuana, McConnell says

Lauren Ashburn ‏(@laurenashburn)
Best #RobFord tweet of day! RT @ZiadFazel The world is again captivated by a media & police pursuit of a slow moving white Ford Bronco...

Peter Baker ‏(@peterbakernyt)
Obama pays tribute to the late Pete Seeger: "Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows" for civil rights, peace, environment.

Scott Conroy (‏@RealClearScott)
EXCLU: @PeterHambyCNN @Timodc & @TVietor08 prepping for SOTU "PoliCast" tonight. Can't wait. http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/27/sotu-coverage-live-streaming-and-hamby-webcast/ … pic.twitter.com/QDHivw4EV5

TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer

Lenny Skutnik was the first person to be invited to sit in the presidential box as the president’s guest at the State of the Union address and be mentioned by the president in his speech.

Skutnik dove into the Potomac River on January 13, 1982, to save passengers from the Air Florida Flight 90 crash. For his bravery, President Ronald Reagan invited Skutnik to sit with first lady Nancy Reagan in the presidential box during his State of the Union address two weeks later.

Reagan acknowledged Skutnik’s bravery saying, “Just two weeks ago, in the midst of a terrible tragedy on the Potomac, we saw again the spirit of American heroism at its finest the heroism of dedicated rescue workers saving crash victims from icy waters … And we saw the heroism of one of our young Government employees, Lenny Skutnik, who, when he saw a woman lose her grip on the helicopter line, dived into the water and dragged her to safety.”

It has since become a tradition that presidents invite guests to sit in the presidential box during the State of the Union to reward them for their bravery or to use the people as physical evidence, or props, to symbolize a policy point the president is trying to make.

Gut Check Flash Back: Memorable State of the Union moments
2010: Obama and Alito clash over campaign finance
2002: "Axis of evil"
1996: Clinton declares an end to big government
1986: A delay caused by tragedy
1974: Defiant Nixon
1941: FDR's Four Freedoms – Alan Silverleib

Fun for trivia buffs: 7 things you didn't know you didn't know about the State of the Union by CNN’s Robert Yoon

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

Congrats to Dave Stroup (@DaveStroup) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Tommy G

    A DEFINING MOMENT FOR OBAMA… Three numbers to keep in mind Tuesday night as President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address: six, 30 and 43. Six as in the number of seats Republicans need to gain this November to take control of the Senate. 30: The historical average of House seats gained by the other party – in this case the Republicans – in a two-term president's "six-year itch" midterm election. And 43%, of course, is Obama's job approval rating – a reminder that his political standing is weak, though up slightly from its recent low point, as he stands before a closely divided Congress – and country – to lay out his agenda for year six of his presidency. – John King
    --

    Don't forget 59.... the percentage of the American people that want Obamacare repealed and are waiting to vote in November.

    January 28, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "The House Republican leadership’s broad framework for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws will call this week for a path to legal status — but not citizenship "

    "The House Republican leadership’s broad framework for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws will call this week for a path to legal status — but not VOTING"

    FIFY

    Thanks for further whitewashing the GOP/Teatroll position, CNN. They certainly need as much help as possible hiding what they truly want to achieve when it comes from avoiding the demographic shifts taking place in this country. It's not the citizenship they don't like, it's the voting that would go with it.

    January 28, 2014 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. tom l

    @Sniffit,
    It honestly seems to me that you're more concerned about them voting then they would be. It seems like you really cherish those votes as a collective a whole lot. I would honestly think that being able to stay in the US, having the ability to go our schools, having access to the incredible opportunities that our country provides to them would be far more significant to these individuals than being able to vote. They didn't commit a crime, as you are so apt to point out, but they most certainly broke our rules and there needs to be a significant consequence to that. That is a fair compromise. A fine? Big deal. Learning English? Big whoop. Back taxes? Most of these people are living paycheck to paycheck, how do you expect them to come up with this money? I totally understand why they have come here. Heck, I would probably do the same so I don't begrudge them that. So I say let's make them legal as long as they haven't broken any important laws since they have been here. This appears to be a very fair compromise or perhaps you can give me some ideas as to what meaningful consequences they should pay for breaking the rules.

    January 28, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |