CNN's GUT CHECK | February 5, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING … SOCHI SECURITY ALERT: U.S. warns airlines flying into Russia that terrorists may try to hide explosives in toothpaste or cosmetics tubes. A law enforcement source said the warning is based on new information and added that there is no known threat to the United States.
The warning comes two days before the Winter Olympics open in Sochi.
REP. KING: I WOULD NOT GO TO SOCHI … Rep. Peter King (R-New York), a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, tells Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Situation Room that he would not attend the Olympic games as a spectator. “I would say that they are reasonably safe, but I would not go myself. If I’m an athlete, that's one thing. But just as a spectator, I don't think it's worth the risk. Odds are nothing is going to happen, but the odds are higher than any other Olympics I believe that something could happen.”
KERRY ON SYRIA: ASSAD’S POSITION HAS IMPROVED
Secretary of State John Kerry made a rare admission that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has gained ground, in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
"It's fair to say that Assad has improved his position a little bit, yes,” Kerry said in the interview on the chief Washington correspondent’s show, ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper.’ “But he's still not winning. This is a stalemate.”
A stalemate means that Assad remains in power, continues to kill innocent civilians, and maintains control of his military.
But Kerry denied that the Obama administration's policy is failing.
"I don't want to make any excuse whatsoever. We want this to move faster. We want it to do better," Kerry said. "But the point I'm making is that diplomacy is tough, slogging, slow work and hard work. But we're beginning to see the shaping of how you might potentially get somewhere.”
KERRY ON POLITICS: I’M OUT … John Kerry also tells Tapper that he will not run for president again, and says he will end his career in politics and government in the office of Secretary of State.
“I'm out of politics. I have no plans whatsoever, this is my last stop. I'm going to serve the country in the extraordinarily privileged position the President has given me, the great challenges that I have, and move on.”
KERRY ON IRAN: ‘IRAN IS NOT OPEN FOR BUSINESS’ …
TAPPER: “Let’s talk about the Iranians, the Iranians are telling their public that this deal is not a big a deal that what they’ve agreed to do, that they could undue it in a day. And Rouhani went to Davos and basically said ‘We’re open for business,’ the French, the Turks, they have been sending if not trade missions, they have almost been sending trade missions looking to do more business. Have we been played?
KERRY: “Not in the least, not even by a close margin, in fact, I, look I think the Iranians naturally are going to go home and say what you’ve just said.”
TAPPER: “… sure but to the world and the Turks and the French?”
KERRY: “No Iran is not open for business. And Iran knows it’s not open for business. Nobody should doubt for an instance that the United States is prepared to enforce the sanctions that exist and all of our allies are in agreement that those sanctions are staying place until or unless there is a deal.”
See the interview here: http://thelead.blogs.cnn.com/
THE BUZZ: SHAUN WHITE WITHDRAWS FROM SLOPESTYLE AT SOCHI GAMES: COURSE TOO DANGEROUS … The double Olympic champion, who had been nursing a wrist injury, withdrew from the race Wednesday just a day after admitting the course presented an "intimidating" challenge. Sochi organizers have faced fierce criticism over the layout at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, with competitors claiming that it is too dangerous to host the event - which is making its Winter Games debut. "After much deliberation with my team, I have made the decision to focus solely on trying to bring home the third straight gold medal in halfpipe for Team USA," White said in a statement
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end barely lower as investors prepare for key jobs data. Dow dips 5 points.
Which president signed the law that placed warning labels on cigarettes and banned television and radio advertisements for cigarettes?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: House GOP leaders discard two key demands for raising debt ceiling
House Republican leaders, who signaled they would push for conditions in return for raising the debt limit, have discarded two leading ideas. One would require approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and the second would repeal an Obamacare provision that helps insurance companies, according to two senior House GOP leadership aides. – Deirdre Walsh
Leading CNN.com/Health: CVS stores to stop selling tobacco
CVS Caremark announced Wednesday it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its CVS/pharmacy stores by October 1, making it the first chain store to do so, according to the retailer. Stopping cigarette sales comes at a price. CVS Caremark estimates it will take an annual loss of $2 billion from tobacco shoppers - $1.5 billion in tobacco sales and the rest from other products tobacco shoppers purchase while in the store. – Elizabeth Landau
Thanks @CVS_Extra, now we can all breathe a little easier, and our families can live healthier. –mo
Gut Check Flashback: President Obama at a UN General Assembly meeting in September when asked if he still smokes cigarettes: “No, no. I haven’t had a cigarette … I’m scared of my wife.”
Leading Charlotte Observer: Clay Aiken makes it official: He will run for Congress
Singer and UNC Charlotte alum Clay Aiken will officially announce his campaign for Congress on Wednesday, injecting a nationally known personality into what has been a quiet Democratic primary to produce a challenger to U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers. Aiken’s decision has already reshaped the field. Houston Barnes, a young attorney who lives in Durham, plans to announce Wednesday that he is withdrawing from the race and supporting Aiken. – Craig Jarvis
Leading Drudge: The ‘End Of Privacy’
A new app will allow total strangers to ID you and pull up all your information, just by looking at you and scanning your face with their Google Glass. The app is called NameTag and it sounds CREEPY. – John Boone
Leading New York Times: U.N. Panel Assails Vatican Over Sexual Abuse by Priests
A sharply critical United Nations panel accused the Vatican on Wednesday of putting its reputation and interests above those of children who had been sexually abused by priests. It called on the Vatican to immediately remove all known or suspected molesters from their posts and report them to civil authorities. – Nick Cumming-Bruce
The political bites of the day
– Clay Aiken: Congress full of lawyers “gotten us so far” –
FORMER AMERICAN IDOL STAR CLAY AIKEN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN ON WHETHER HIS COMPELLING PERSONAL STORY IS ENOUGH TO QUALIFY HIM TO RUN FOR CONGRESS: “No I don’t think it does. I do think that my story qualifies me, that I understand that we all go through issues. We all go through struggles in life and they make us who we are. And we all learn from them. And for that reason I think empathy and caring for the people you represent is a really important qualification for Congress. As a society we have decided that lawyers and what not should be the people in Congress but we see what that’s gotten us so far. So I think understanding constituents and caring about them their needs should be the most important qualification.”
– Former Obama official: ‘Build the Keystone Pipeline’ –
FORMER INTERIOR SEC. KEN SALAZAR AT THE NORTH AMERICAN PROSPECT EXPO IN HOUSTON: “At the end of the day, we are going to be consuming that oil … So is it better for us to get the oil from our good neighbor from the north, or to be bringing it from some place in the Middle East?”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDCNN)
A 180 in 1 year: MT @deirdrewalshcnn: @Raul_Labrador on immigration: "overwhelming support for idea of doing nothing this year" #cwc113
Caitlin Huey-Burns (@CHueyBurnsRCP)
"And I'm not a fan of Chris Christie," Rep. Labrador says in hitting Dems for spending more time investigating Christie than the IRS.
Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN)
Sandra Fluke to pass on Congress but run for state Senate seat. My story with help from @KilloughCNN – http://cnn.it/1ipxxeR
Alex Pappas (@AlexPappas)
Tea party ally AFP eschews intra-party fights, launching early attacks on Senate Democrats that boost GOP http://wapo.st/1eoaRgx
Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo)
Et tu, Scott? From campaigning for AZ-style immig bill & vetoeing DREAMer DL bill, gov now considers DREAMer tuition http://bit.ly/1naHfmn
Greg Giroux (@greggiroux)
Liz Cheney, who left #wysen race Jan 6, raised $720k in Q4 '13 from donors including Dan Snyder, Josh Bolten, Pete Coors
Robert Yoon (@yoonrob)
6 yrs ago today, the super-est Super Tuesday ever was held: 24 states (+Amer. Samoa) held 44 contests to select nominees for president
Ruby Cramer (@rubycramer)
Chelsea Clinton to speak as SXSW Interactive keynote http://shar.es/Q5kWV
PETER MAER (@petermaercbs)
Americans’ favorite #Beatle: 35% say Paul McCartney, John Lennon (29%), Ringo Starr (11%) & George Harrison (8%) :@CBSNews poll.
The FA (@FA)
FULL STORY: Former England captain David Beckham confirms he will take up the option to buy MLS franchise in Miami http://the-fa.com/Hfzj23
Jaimy Szymanski (@jaimy_marie)
$3.6M cash bonus on top of a $1.2M salary? Cool. Nbd. | Inside Satya Nadella’s CEO Comp Package From Microsoft http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/04/inside-satya-nadellas-ceo-comp-package-from-microsoft/?ncid=twittersocialshare …
Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter)
Aging, jilted #barbie might be the most feminist doll around: http://tinyurl.com/prbcyfh via @TIMEIdeas #unapologetic
The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom)
Today @MittRomney talks LIVE to @wolfblitzer in the #SitRoom. They will discuss Olympics, @GovChristie, 2016 & more. pic.twitter.com/eHzXwpfKBQ
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
On April 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed legislation officially banning cigarette ads on television and radio. Like President Obama, Nixon had smoked, but believed the legislation would be an important step towards improving public health.
In a statement released today by the White House, President Obama applauded CVS Caremark for its decision to cease selling tobacco products in all of their stores by October 2014.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Robert Biale Vineyards (@BialeVineyards) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits: email@example.com
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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.