CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 18, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING … Kiev burns; 14 dead …Violent showdown looms over presidential power … Long-simmering tensions exploded anew in Ukraine as clashes between police and anti-government protesters left at least 14 people dead and the capital's central square afire throughout Tuesday into predawn Wednesday. The fresh violence in Kiev comes amid monthslong turmoil in what is essentially a fight over whether the country's future is alongside Russia or Europe, the latter favored by protesters.
What you need to know
• John Kerry urges Ukraine government to resume talks with opposition
• U.S. Embassy says Ukraine security "may take extraordinary measures"
• Opposition tells President: "Do not let Ukraine become a country covered with blood"
• McCain tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that President Obama should push for sanctions
DEVELOPING …. TED NUGENT HITS TEXAS … Controversial 65-year-old rock star Ted Nugent is campaigning Tuesday with likely Texas GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott, the state's current attorney general who makes no apologies for inviting Nugent to appear with him. A senior Abbott aide admits their campaign is only bringing on the rocker and gun rights activist to help spur voter turnout among the base, as the state begins early voting for the upcoming March 4 GOP primary. – Dana Bash
The Big Question: Wolf Blitzer, asks if Abbott is aware that Nugent called President Obama a ‘subhuman mongrel’ just last month: “Do they know the phrase, subhuman mongrel? That’s what the Nazi’s called Jews leading up and during World War II to justify the genocide of the Jewish community.” VIDEO: http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/politics/2014/02/18/bts-wolf-nugent-subhuman-mongrel-slater.cnn.html
ABBOTT CAMPAIGN REACTION: “The controversy is what he said in the past. We are not endorsing Ted Nugent, he is supporting us … It’s easy to criticize some of the language he has used in the past. He is protected under the constitution like you and I.”
WENDY DAVIS SEES OPENING: “Greg Abbott’s embrace of Ted Nugent and his ideals is an insult to every woman in Texas and it should be an insult to every man, every husband, brother, father, son, in Texas."
FALLING LIKE FLIES … TWO MORE TO RETIRE FROM HOUSE… Rep. Rush Holt, an eight-term Democrat from New Jersey, nuclear physicist, and five-time "Jeopardy" winner, announced Tuesday that he'll retire at the end of the year rather than run for re-election in November saying, “There is no motive for my decision.” – Paul Steinhauser
Two years is enough for Democratic Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod, who announced Tuesday that she will retire from her California congressional seat at the end of her first term in office. McLeod – who was sworn in just over a year ago in January 2013 – said she will instead run for San Bernardino County supervisor. – Dan Merica
Gut Check Full Service: So far there have been 21 retirements in the House in 2014. This is average compared to past retirement totals.
2012 – 25 retirements
2010 – 19 retirements
2008 – 26 retirements
2006 – 11 retirements
2004 – 15 retirements
2002 – 18 retirements
2000 – 23 retirements
1998 – 21 retirements
1996 – 35 retirements
1994 – 27 retirements
GINGRICH: KERRY IS ‘DELUSIONAL,’ SHOULD RESIGN … Newt Gingrich is calling for Secretary of State John Kerry to step down. In a series of tweets, the CNN Crossfire co-host, former House speaker and 2012 GOP presidential candidate described Kerry as "delusional" after the secretary of state's remarks about climate change being "the greatest challenge of our generation."
Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich)
Does kerrey really believe global warming more dangerous than north Korean and iranian nukes? More than Russian and Chinese nukes? Really? ?
Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich)
Every American who cares about national security must.demand Kerrey's resignation. A delusional secretary of state is dangerous to our safety
Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich)
I apologize to bob kerrey for spelling john kerry's name as though he were bob's relative. Callista caught my error. Please edit to kerry
Gut Check Full Service: NEWT GINGRICH SITTING NEXT TO NANCY PELOSI IN A CLIMATE CHANGE AD IN 2008: “Hi I’m Nancy Pelosi, lifelong Democrat and Speaker of the House.” GINGRICH: And I’m Newt Gingrich, lifelong Republican and I used to be Speaker. PELOSI: “We don’t always see eye-to-eye, do we Newt?” GINGRICH: “No, but we do agree, our country must take action to address climate change. PELOSI: “We need cleaner forms of energy and we need them fast.” GINGRICH: ”If enough of us demand action from our leaders, we can spark the innovation we need.” PELOSI: “Go to wecansolveittogether.org. Together we can do this.”
Gut Check Full Service: GINGRICH IN 2011: “I’ve said publicly, sitting on the couch with Nancy Pelosi is the dumbest single thing I’ve done in the last few years”
THE BUZZ: CLOONEY IN THE WHITE HOUSE … The White House is screening “the Monuments Men” saying, “Cultural heritage preservation is a vital tool of foreign policy. Celebrating and preserving diverse heritages strengthens the foundation of bilateral relationships. For over 30 years, the State Department's Cultural Heritage Center has been a leader in global preservation for cultural heritage sites and objects.” Attendees include: George Clooney, Nick and Nina Clooney, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Grant Heslov, Robert Edsel, Harry Ettlinger, Bill Burns, Heather Higginbottom, David Wade, Richard Stengel, Evan Ryan, and David Ferriero.
MARKET WATCH: Tech stocks rally, pushing the NASDAQ to a 13-year closing high with a 0.7% gain. Dow slips 24 points.
Athletes who won medals on Feb. 15th at the Sochi Olympic Games will have pieces of what special material embedded in their medals?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNMoney: Raising minimum wage would ease poverty but cost some jobs
Raising the federal minimum wage would boost the incomes of most low-wage workers but result in job loss for some, according to an analysis released Tuesday. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that gradually raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3% of the workforce. The CBO also said there is a good chance the job loss could be much less - or could reach as high as 1 million jobs. – Jeanne Sahadi
Leading Chicago Tribune: Ex-Illinois congressman Mel Reynolds arrested in Zimbabwe
Former Illinois congressman Mel Reynolds has been arrested in Zimbabwe, an immigration official said on Tuesday, after state media reported the convicted sex offender had been found with pornography at a local hotel. Police and immigration officials were investigating Reynolds for living in the southern African country without a valid visa, Francis Mabika, an assistant regional immigration officer, told Reuters.
Leading Boston Globe: Ex-Obama aide Eric Lesser to run for Mass. state Senate
Eric Lesser, a Longmeadow native who worked as special assistant to top Obama adviser David Axelrod, said in a press release that he wanted to build high-speed rail links to Boston and help the region’s manufacturing industry recover … Despite Lesser’s Washington credentials, he is wading into a field of Democrats whose local ties don’t require re-establishment. The seat is currently held by Gale Candaras, who is stepping down to run for Hampden County register of probate. – Jim O’Sullivan
Leading Drudge: 'Homeland' Blocks Road Salt Delivery
The Garden State is still waiting for a critical supply of rock salt held up by the Department of Homeland Security since it is being carried on a foreign ship … The government has yet to issue a wavier to allow the ship to make the deliver the salt without it.
Leading HuffPo: Unlikely Allies
The Republican National Committee, civil libertarians like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and liberals like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are on one side of the debate. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the House and Senate leadership are on the other side, defending the Obama administration's surveillance programs as necessary to prevent terrorism. – Eileen Sulliva
Leading Politico: Exclusive: Mega-donors plan GOP war council
A group of major GOP donors, led by New York billionaire Paul Singer, is quietly expanding its political footprint ahead of the midterm elections in an increasingly assertive effort to shape the direction of the Republican Party. – Alexander Burns and Kenneth Vogel
Leading New York Times: Financier Plans Big Ad Campaign on Climate Change
Tom Steyer, a retired hedge fund manager, plans to spend as much as $100 million this year on a hard-edge campaign to pressure officials and candidates to support climate change measures. – Nocholas Confessore
Leading San Francisco Chronicle: Apple exploring cars, medical devices to reignite growth
A source tells The Chronicle that Perica met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Cupertino last spring around the same time analysts suggested Apple acquire the electric car giant … The newspaper has also learned that Apple is heavily exploring medical devices, specifically sensor technology that can help predict heart attack … Wearable devices make intuitive sense for Apple; electric cars and cardiac monitors not as much. And that's exactly why Apple should pursue those ideas, some analysts say. – Thomas Lee and David R. Baker
The political bites of the day
–McCain Pushes for Sanctions Against Ukraine –
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ON “THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER”: The president should be working with Congress to prepare a set of sanctions against Ukraine that would be put into effect unless this comes to a halt. It's been mentioned a couple of times by Secretary Kerry and others, but we have to have the gun loaded there, ready to fire that bullet if these continue. … And watch out for Vladimir Putin, because he will try to make mischief because he believes that Ukraine is part of Russia.”
– AFP: Hagan having trouble telling time –
AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY AD AGAINST KAY HAGAN IN NORTH CAROLINA: (NARRATOR SPEAKING OVER THE SOUND OF A TICKING CLOCK) “Senator Kay Hagan is having trouble telling time.” (FLASHBACK OF HAGAN) “We want to show that the Affordable Care Act is something whose time has come.” (NARRATOR) “More than 400,000 people in NC had their health plans cancelled. Healthcare costs are soaring and families are losing access to doctors they trust. But Kay Hagan thinks Obamacare’s time has come. Call Sen. Hagan. Tell her Obamacare is not the answer.
Gut Check Full Service: SEN. HAGAN ON MSNBC WEDNESDAY: “What I think is really interesting is that the people in North Carolina are not going to let the billionaire Koch brothers buy this seat.”
– Roberts defends Kansas roots –
NARRATOR IN A NEW AD PAID FOR BY SEN. PAT ROBERTS FOR SENATE, TITLED “TOUGH, TESTED AND TRUSTED CONSERVATIVE FOR KANSAS”: “Pat Roberts, a fourth generation Kansan. A proud Marine, husband and father. A tough, tested and trusted conservative for Kansas.”
– Montana Governor to Harry Reid: Mind your own business –
MONTANA GOV. STEVE BULLOCK TO REPORTERS FRIDAY ABOUT SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID’S CALL TO HIM REGARDING MAX BAUCUS’ SENATE REPLACEMENT: “He wanted to weigh in on who I should choose and this was before it was even public … And I said it was none of your damn business … I said, ‘You know what. Stay out of my decision-making. This is a decision I make and no one else. This is one of those decisions that voters have entrusted me with.’”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44)
The logical extension of the GOP position on today's CBO report would be to call for lowering the minimum wage –> lots of jobs at $2/hr
Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck)
Not hard: when you increase the cost of labor, there will be less demand for it, resulting in fewer jobs.
Wayne Slater (@WayneSlater)
Greg Abbott said nobody in Texas "more disliked" than Barack Obama. That's what he said after today's event: share.d-news.co/sQbuqsT
Fun GOP primary trend in TX: Re-using old quotes about you from Ted Cruz, pretending he endorsed you. slate.com/blogs/weigel/2…
Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor)
"Look at what we wound up with: Some bimbo who decided not to run again" Baca said of Negrete McLeod's #CA35 exit ow.ly/tKVgv
Bill Clinton (@billclinton)
Happy #PresidentsDay – to #44 (@BarackObama), #43 (#HowAreYouNotOnTwitter?), #41 (@GeorgeHWBush), & #39. #PresidentialTweeters
Vaughn Sterling (@vplus)
CNN JUST IN: United States Embassy in Kiev has issued a warning to U.S. citizens there to stay indoors due to escalating violence
David Dorr (@daviddorr)
All eyes should be watching Venezuela today as Leopoldo López plans new march and to surrender. This is a key event http://ow.ly/tKaRO
Margaret Besheer (@mbesheer)
Bravo Malala! @mickbk: Malala tells CNN from #Zaatari: World risks losing generation of Syrian kids pic.twitter.com/USbNYsQhjM”
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
To commemorate one year since a meteor crashed into Urals in central Russia, the Russians have embedded bits of the Chelyabinsk meteorite in special commemorative medals. The medals were awarded only to the ten gold medalists who won their events on February 15th.
A meteor chip is embedded at the center of each medal by specialists in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, where the meteor caused mass destruction last year.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Rich Killion (@nhkillion) and Matt Gilbertson (@MattRGilbertson) 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.