CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for February 26, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING … COLORADO SENATE RACE JUST GOT A LOT MORE INTERESTING: John King reports: Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican elected in 2010, has decided to run for Senate, two sources tell CNN. The 39-year-old Gardner joins a crowded field of Republicans seeking the GOP nomination, and will be considered a serious contender for the nod. Among those in the race are Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, state Sen. Owen Hill, and state Rep. Amy Stephens.
The winner of the June 24 GOP primary will face Sen. Mark Udall in November. Udall was elected in 2008.
Just last year Gardner stated he would not run for the Senate in 2014, but as the political landscape appeared to be getting better for Republicans he reconsidered, said one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Republicans only need a net gain of six seats to win back control of the Senate chamber in November.
MIDTERM SUB-PLOT: HARRY REID VS. KOCH BROTHERS …
REID: “What is going on with these two brothers who made millions of dollars last year in an attempt to buy our democracy is dishonest, deceptive, false and unfair. Just because you have huge amounts of money you should not be able to run these false, misleading ads by the hundreds of millions of dollars. They hide behind all kinds of entities, Mr. President. It’s not just their front organization, American for Prosperity. They give money to all kinds of organizations Lots of money. See when you make billions of dollars a year, you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be. It’s too bad they’re trying to buy American and it’s time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.”
AND THE RESPONSE… From Philip Ellender, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC: “We are disappointed, but not surprised, that Senate Majority Leader Reid has once again falsely attacked Charles Koch and David Koch today on the Senate floor. The Democrats in general and Senator Reid in particular have targeted Charles Koch and David Koch and tried to silence their disagreement on important public policy issues since 2010.”
CRUZ MISSILE … CRUZ ANGERS GOP COLLEAGUES –AGAIN. Ted Barrett and Dana Bash report: Several Republican senators said Wednesday they were surprised and angered after a news report revealed that their GOP colleague, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, made a recent fundraising appeal for a tea party group that is trying to defeat GOP incumbents it doesn’t believe are conservative enough.
The senators said Cruz’s efforts appeared to violate his own pledge to no longer target sitting Republican senators in favor of tea party-backed candidates in the hard-fought 2014 campaign in which Republicans believe they have a chance to win back control of the Senate. In addition, the fundraising appears at odds with Cruz’s position as Vice Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the organization that works to elect and re-elect Republicans to the Senate.
“I am stunned that Sen. Cruz is involved in this fundraising effort for a group that has targeted his colleagues in the Republican caucus,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told CNN. “I’m particularly surprised because I thought he had agreed to no longer engage in that kind of activity of supporting groups that were targeting people he serves with every day in the Republican caucus.”
Collins is running for re-election but doesn’t appear to be a target of the group for whom Cruz did the appeal.
CHRISTIE: WHAT, ME WORRY?
WATCH ME THROW THE POLLSTERS UNDER THE BUS … Gov. Chris Christie drew laughter from a room full of New Jersey residents when he cracked wise about poll numbers: "The only two professions in America where you keep getting paid even when you are always wrong affect my life everyday - pollsters and weathermen," said the Governor, as snow came down in Long Hill, New Jersey.
“I mean, they don’t ever have to have it right and then they come back the next day and they sound just as authoritative as they used to right? It’s crazy.” – Ashley Killough
BUT PERHAPS HE SHOULD WORRY … LESS THAN A THIRD OF REPUBLICANS WANT CHRISTIE TO RUN … More Republicans say they wouldn't like Chris Christie to run for president in 2016 than those who say they want him to launch a White House bid, according to a new national poll released Wednesday … Forty-one percent of Republicans questioned in the poll say the New Jersey governor should not run for the GOP nomination in 2016, while 31% say Christie should launch a bid.
… AND A CHENEY DISSES RAND PAUL
Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney)
Must read by @JRubinBlogger re @SenRandPaul recent naive & dangerous foreign policy pronouncements. tinyurl.com/ldevllj
IN THE STATES … Texas' ban on SAME SEX marriage ruled unconstitutional … A federal judge has struck down Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, ruling Wednesday it has no "rational relation to a legitimate government purpose." The decision is the latest in a series of federal and state court moves to overturn current laws forbidding gay and lesbians from legal wedlock.. – Bill Mears
PERRY: DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS
TEXAS GOV. RICK PERRY AFTER THE RULING: "Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our Constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens. The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions, and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn't be achieved at the ballot box. We will continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state."
THE BUZZ: PAPAL INTRIGUE As the anniversary of his surprising resignation approaches, Pope Benedict XVI has rejected as “simply absurd” the speculation that he was forced to step down, and he said he still wears the distinctive white papal cassock for “purely practical reasons.”
“At the moment of my resignation there were no other clothes available,” Benedict wrote in a brief letter to an Italian journalist that was published on Wednesday. – Religious News Service’s David Gibson
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end lower. Dow slips 26 points. NASDAQ and S&P 500 drop 0.1%.
Which Hollywood icon is a distant cousin to both former President George W. Bush and Secretary of State John Kerry, who ran against each other for president in 2004? (HINT: The answer is not Kevin Bacon.)
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Groups unite to back Hillary Clinton - if she decides to make a run
The party that was once known for duplicating efforts and an inability to accept the realities of federal election law believes it has found its groove with a cadre of organizations working in concert to elect the first woman president. "Everybody is swimming in their own lane, which is very unusual for Democrats," said Paul Begala, head of pro-Clinton Priorities USA Action and a CNN contributor – Dan Merica
Leading CNNMoney.com: Senate Report Reveals Credit Suisse Helped Rich Clients Hide Billions From IRS
Bankers at Credit Suisse used cloak and dagger tactics to help wealthy American clients stash away billions in assets out of sight of the IRS, according to a Senate investigative report released Tuesday. The Swiss banking giant, which is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly aiding tax evasion by its rich clients, opened a special Zurich airport branch so customers could fly in, meet their private bankers and quickly hit the slopes, Senate investigators said. – Evan Perez
Leading Minneapolis Star Tribune: St. Paul visit: Obama to unveil $300B transportation plan today
During his visit to St. Paul on Wednesday, President Obama will unveil plans for a burst of spending on transportation and infrastructure projects, a proposal the White House says will save middle class jobs and provide an overdue investment in the country’s foundation. Obama will detail his four-year $302 billion proposal that calls for building, fixing or maintaining thousands of miles of roads and rail lines. The president wants to use revenue from closing tax loopholes to raise the necessary funds. – Corey Mitchell
Leading Drudge: Leader Of The Pack
Republican strategists like to say the party's next nominee needs to hail from the GOP's gubernatorial ranks. It's a response to how unpopular Washington is—particularly the party's congressional wing—and a reflection of the party's strength in holding a majority of governorships. But another reason for the gubernatorial focus is to sidestep the one formidable candidate that gives the establishment heartburn: Sen. Rand Paul. - Josh Kraushaar
Leading HuffPo: ‘Foolish’ Attention
Bobby Jindal isn't going to go away quietly. He made that much clear Monday … His roundhouse punch at President Barack Obama's policies, while standing on the White House driveway a few feet from the Oval Office and surrounded by governors of both parties, incensed Democrats, who see him as a grandstanding, know-it-all partisan. Of course Jindal's enthusiasm for mixing it up will only endear him to many conservatives. – Jon Ward
Leading Politico: The Clinton library's secret files
A trove of Clinton White House records long processed for release remains hidden from public view at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock — even though the legal basis initially used to withhold them expired more than a year ago. The papers contain confidential advice given to or sought by President Bill Clinton, including communications with then-first lady Hillary Clinton, and records about people considered for appointments to federal office. – Josh Gerstein
Leading New York Times: 2 Hollywood Stars on Capitol Hill
In a double-header of celebrity cameos, Ben Affleck and Seth Rogen are scheduled to testify before Congress, Mr. Affleck before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (on the prospects for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Mr. Rogen before a panel of the Senate Appropriations Committee (on the economic impact of Alzheimer’s disease). – Ashley Parker
The political bites of the day
– Reid on Obamacare horror stories: They’re all lies –
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID, D-NEVADA, ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “There’s plenty of horror stories being told (about ObamaCare). All of them are untrue. But they’re being told all over America.”
– A Blunt comeback –
Subject line of a press release sent by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri: “So... Harry Reid thinks all of these Missourians are lying?”
– Boehner on tax reform: The conversation has just begun –
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, AT A GOP PRESSER: “Listen, there's a conversation that needs to begin. This is the beginning of the conversation.”
– Camp on tax reform: The conversation is over –
HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN REP. DAVE CAMP, R-MICHIGAN, AT A HOUSE TAX REFORM NEWS CONFERENCE: “The debate about needing to do tax reform is over. We've already lost a decade and before we lose a generation, we must enact real meaningful tax reform to get this economy back on track.“
– Senate slip-up –
DHS SEC. JEH JOHNSON TO REP. PAUL BROUN, R-GEORGIA, AT HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY HEARING: “Senator, the, ah, congressman, sorry. BROUN: I'll accept that… I'm running for Senate.”
– Sen. Roberts slams Wolf for graphic posts in new campaign ad titled “Alarming”–
NARRATOR IN A SEN. PAT ROBERTS, R-KANSAS, ATTACK AD AGAINST SENATE PRIMARY OPPONENT DR. MILTON WOLF: “Dr. Milton Wolf’s patients trusted him, but stunning news reports show that Wolf exposed private patient X-rays and other personal information on Facebook — where Wolf relentlessly poked fun at the dead or wounded. A Kansas City medical ethics expert called Wolf’s behavior ‘beyond alarming’ for a professional in the field of medicine. If Milton Wolf is so irresponsible is so irresponsible as a doctor, how can he possibly be trusted as a US Senator?”
– Oh Joe –
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT AN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH EVENT ATTENDED BY FORMER NBA star KEVIN JOHNSON: "I told the President, next game I have him. Just remember I may be a white boy, but I can jump."
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Luke Russert (@LukeRussert)
Kerry on USA/Russia relations post #Ukraine "This is not Rocky IV"
Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck)
Thanks Secretary. MT @JohnKerry: Met w/ @US_SEGL & @RedSox fan @BenAffleck on #DRC. Both passionate about the issues.
Doug Heye (@DougHeye)
MSNBC chyron for John Kerry interview: "America's Diplomat." How many times did Condoleezza Rice get that?
Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN)
Christie gets a traffic question–but it's about too many red lights. Audience member wants better timing on lights cuz he's always stopping
Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP)
Top GOP Operatives Fundraise to Oust House Republican (Walter Jones) bit.ly/1hoWB6k
Jake Tapper (@jaketapper)
55 Sens now supporting @SenGillibrand's legislation to take mil. sexual assault prosecutions out of chain of command. She'll be on #TheLead
Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders)
Please do not inject the Iran sanctions issue into a debate on how we can improve the lives of #veterans and their families.
#Boehner's Favorability Returns to Pre-Shutdown Levels... http://on.gallup.com/NwRBSA pic.twitter.com/yc9W5O7NYF
Scott Huffmon (@WinthropPoll)
Lindsey Graham far ahead of rivals in SC GOP Primary but short of run off threshold. 1/3 still undecided: http://www.thestate.com/2014/02/26/3291831/poll-graham-holds-huge-lead-but.html …
Don Banks (@donbanks)
In case Arizona's SB 1062 isn't vetoed by Gov. Brewer, NFL on Wed began exploring Super Bowl 49 relocation options: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20140226/super-bowl-xlix-relocation-arizona/index.html …
FOX 12 Oregon KPTV (@fox12oregon)
Jason Collins' No. 98 jersey (tribute to '98 death of Matthew Shepard) is NBA's top-selling jersey http://kptv.tv/1fHTgze
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Former President George W. Bush and Secretary of State John Kerry don’t just share campaign history, they also share interesting genes. Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, is a distant cousin to both men.
In an interview with CBS, Hefner joked that he felt closer to then-Sen. Kerry, but noted that it was unique to be related to both 2004 presidential candidates.
"You know I'm an 11th generation direct descendent of William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower, a direct descendent of a puritan … I suppose that it is not a big surprise but it is certainly unique to be a relation to both candidates."
Research revealed in 2004 that the two candidates are actually 16th cousins, three times removed.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congrats to RobertBialeVineyards (@Bialevineyards) and Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.
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