CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 6, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING … FEINSTEIN TELLS AMERICANS IN SOCHI TO “WATCH THEIR BACKS” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that the security threat stream around the Sochi Olympics “is credible, I think it's real.”
Feinstein noted at least one terrorist group – the Caucasus Emirate – has made threats and "is conceivably capable of carrying out an attack."
"People going to the Olympics should be careful, I think they should watch their backs, I think they should stay out of crowds if they can," said Feinstein. Watch the video from the Lead with Jake Tapper here: CNN.com/thelead
DEVELOPING …. BUSH & GOP STILL GETTING BLAME FOR ECONOMIC WOES… A CNN/ORC International survey released Thursday indicates that more people blame former President George W. Bush and the Republicans than President Barack Obama and the Democrats for the country's economic problems.
Sixty-four percent continue to say the economy is in poor shape.
SOURCE: OBAMA OFFERS TO STAY AWAY FROM SOME SENATE RACES … President Barack Obama has told Senate Democrats that he's willing to stay away from election battles where his presence would not be helpful, a Democratic source said - an apparent nod to his poll numbers. Obama's comments came when he and former President Bill Clinton attended the Senate Democrats' issues conference at Nationals Park on Wednesday. Sources at the meeting said Obama assured Democrats that maintaining control of the Senate is his top priority this year. – Jim Acosta and Dana Bash
PRESIDENT PRAISES GOD AT PRAYER BREAKFAST, THANKS GOD
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “I'm grateful not only because I was broke and the church fed me, but because it led to everything else. It led me to embrace Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. It led me to Michelle, the love of my life, and it blessed us with two extraordinary daughters. It led me to public service. ...Religion strengthens America. Brave men and women of faith have challenged our conscience and brought us closer to our founding ideals from the abolition of slavery to civil rights, workers' rights.”
MEANWHILE… THE 19 MOST RELIGIOUS STATES ALL VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY IN 2012 … The 19 most religious states - ranked by Gallup as those who identify as "very religious" - all went for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in 2012. (Romney won 24 total states.) In those 19 states, President Obama averaged 39 percent of the vote. Here are those 19 states … MS, UT, AL, LA, SC, TN, GA, AR, NC, OK, KT, TX, ID, NE, KS, SD, ND, IN, MO. – Chris Cillizza
MARKET WATCH: Dow posts biggest gain of 2014, rising 187 points, with Disney climbing 5% on earnings. Twitter tumbles 24%.
Which three politicians were most frequently targeted by Jay Leno in his jokes during his tenure as host of "The Tonight Show"?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics.com: Boehner signals immigration unlikely this year
House Speaker John Boehner signaled Thursday any action on immigration legislation is unlikely this year because House Republicans don't trust the President. "There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws and it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner told Capitol Hill reporters. – Deirdre Walsh
NEW CNN/ORC POLL ON IMMIGRATION: 54% of Americans said that “legal status for immigrants” should be the main focus of U.S. immigration policy, while 41% said it should be “border security.” – Paul Steinhauser
Leading Charlotte Observer: NC tobacco industry shrugs at CVS decision to drop tobacco products
A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in Winston-Salem, David P. Howard, issued a short statement saying that Reynolds values the relationship it had with CVS and respects the pharmacy chain’s decision. But he also noted that only about 3.6 percent of cigarettes sold in the U.S. in 2012 were sold at pharmacies, according to the market research company Euromonitor International. Nearly 48 percent were bought at gas stations, 21 percent in specialty tobacco stores and about 16 percent in convenience stores. The CVS decision may be more of a milestone in the changing nature of the pharmacy business rather than in the decline of tobacco.
Leading Drudge: No Show Sochi
Olympic fans of the world, where are you? Sochi is (more or less) ready for you to come to its Winter Games. Thousands of athletes, soldiers, journalists and herds of smiley volunteers are in place, eager to help. So far, though, it seems like the only spectators milling about are Russian.
Leading Politico: GOP Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers faces possible ethics inquiry
GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers faces a possible House Ethics Committee investigation over allegations by a former staffer that she improperly mixed campaign and official funds to help win a 2012 House leadership race. The Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended that the Ethics Committee conduct a full probe into the case. The Ethics Committee is expected to announce as early as today that it will take another 45 days to review the OCE recommendation. OCE originally forwarded its recommendation to the Ethics Committee shortly before the Christmas holiday. – John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman
Leading HuffPo: AOL CEO Says Obamacare Forced Company To Reduce 401(k) Benefits
AOL is trimming back its employee retirement benefits, a move the media company's chief executive said Thursday was made necessary by new costs incurred by President Barack Obama's health care reform law. "Obamacare is an additional $7.1 million expense for us as a company, so we have to decide whether or not to pass that expense to employees or whether to cut other benefits," AOL's Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong told CNBC Thursday morning. AOL is the parent company of The Huffington Post. – Ben Hallman
Leading New York Times: Democrats Aim to Make 2014 More Like 2012 and 2008
The Democrats’ plan to hold onto their narrow Senate majority goes by the name “Bannock Street project.” It runs through 10 states, includes a $60 million investment, and requires more than 4,000 paid staffers. And the effort will need all of that — and perhaps more — to achieve its goal, which is nothing short of changing the character of the electorate in a midterm cycle … While the goal is ambitious, Mr. (Guy) Cecil has some experience. “Bannock Street” is drawn from the name of the Denver field headquarters for the campaign of Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, for whom Mr. Cecil was the chief of staff. Mr. Bennet won in 2010 by generating higher than forecast turnout. – Ashley Parker
The political bites of the day
– Pelosi: No cookies for you –
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI ON DEBT CEILING NEGOTIATIONS ON THE HOUSE FLOOR: “This is not a matter of negotiation. This is the full faith and credit of the United States of America. And the only reason the Speaker is adding those things is because his caucus does not want to vote to honor the full faith and credit of the United States of America unless they have a cookie in their lunch, and that's just not right. It's not right if we would do it to a Republican President.”
– Boehner: GOP wouldn’t come together for Mother Teresa –
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER AT A WEEKLY PRESSER RESPONDING TO A QUESTION ABOUT WHY THE GOP COULDN’T PRODUCE 218 VOTES IN FAVOR OF THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE: “You know, Mother Teresa is a saint now, but if the Congress wanted to make her a saint and attach that to the debt ceiling, you probably couldn’t get 218 Republican votes.”
– Jesus couldn’t unite today’s GOP –
REP. PATRICK J. TIBERI, R-OHIO, TO THE WASHINGTON POST: “Right now, Jesus himself couldn’t be the speaker and get 218 Republicans behind something, so I think Speaker Boehner is trying his best to come up with a plan that can get close to that … Whatever we move, there will be critics everywhere, but at the end of the day we still have to govern.”
– Schumer to Boehner: Don’t give up! –
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-NEW YORK, AT A NEWS CONFERENCE: “I think the leadership of the Republican Party knows that if they don't do immigration reform, they have big problems down the road and even immediately. This idea that it's going to be easier to do in presidential year? Come on. We know how presidential years are. The primaries will move the Republican Party and their candidates further and further to the right. So I would urge Speaker Boehner to keep working on it, to figure out, doesn't have to be exactly the way we did it, but to keep moving forward.”
– Russian Olympic Spox: We can see in the hotel showers –
DMITRY KOZAK, THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OLYMPIC PREPARATIONS, RESPONDING TO SOCHI CRITICISM IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE RUSSIAN RADIO STATION KOMMERSANT FM ON WEDNESDAY: "We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day,"
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN)
96-0 – baucus confirmed as amassador to china. one senator voted present – baucus! didnt want to vote for himself
John Kerry (@JohnKerry)
Max Baucus confirmed 96-0! Big congrats to Big Max. How come I was only confirmed 94-3?
Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram)
Durbin: It's the shutdown Republican caucus. Shut down the gov't. Shut down immigration reform..
Ginger Gibson (@GingerGibson)
Bill O'Reilly sent someone to ask Pelosi why she won't give him an interview at her presser. She said Obama interview wasn't a good warmup.
Breaking! Bipartisan deal in place to expand Medicaid to 50,000 in NH. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Bipartisan-agreement-on-Medicaid-expansion-bill-5211077.php … #ACA #Obamacareisworking #nhpolitics
James Pindell (WMUR) (@JamesPindell)
.@KellyAyotte loses in this Medicaid expansion deal. It makes @GovernorHassan look bigger. Hassan could challenge Ayotte in 2016 #nhpolitics
Sen. Maria Cantwell (@CantwellPress)
Cantwell, @Mayor_Ed_Murray & @kcexec launch a new campaign: #Sherman4Prez. #Celebrate48 pic.twitter.com/RqzFLIBQWH
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
According to a study conducted by the George Mason University, of the 43,892 of Jay Leno’s jokes about public figures over the past two decades, President Bill Clinton was the butt of the most laughs, at with 4,607 jokes, or 10% total. George W. Bush came in second with 3,239 jokes followed by Al Gore and President Barack Obama with around 1,000 each. Hillary Clinton was fifth.
The study also concludes that Leno poked fun at Democrats 15% more than he made fun of Republicans. The report notes that this a reflection of the fact that the comedian's jokes were usually centered on the President, which was a Democrat a majority of the 22 years Leno hosted "The Tonight Show."
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Ryan Sloane (@RyanSloane) and Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
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