CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 4, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
TENSIONS REMAIN HIGH IN UKRAINE …
WARNING SHOTS FIRED AT UKRAINIAN BASE … but tempers cooled before the situation escalated. See video: http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/world/2014/03/04/vo-ukraine-belbek-air-base-standoff.cnn.html
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry both said today that Russia was violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and called for Russia to “de-escalate” the situation.
OBAMA IN WASHINGTON: “I know President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations but I don't think that's fooling anybody I think everybody recognizes that although Russia has legitimate interests in what happens in a neighboring state that does not give it the right to use force as a means of exerting influence inside of that state."
KERRY IN KIEV: “If Russia does not choose to de-escalate, if it is not willing to work directly with the government of Ukraine, as we hope they will be, then our partners will have absolutely no choice but to join us to continue to expand upon steps we have taken in recent days in order to isolate Russia politically, diplomatically and economically.”
PUTIN DENIES RUSSIAN TROOPS IN CRIMEA, CALLS THEM “SELF-DEFENSE FORCES … “Look at former Soviet republics. You can go to a store and buy a uniform. Were these Russian soldiers? No, they’re very well-trained self-defense forces … If we do this (invade Crimea) it will only be to protect Russian people.”
PUTIN CLAIMS WAR IS NOT ON HIS MIND: “I'm not worried that a war will start because we're not going to go to war with Ukraine. I want you to understand clearly: If we do this, it will only be to protect local people."
U.S. TO GIVE $1 BILLION IN LOAN GUARANTEES TO UKRAINE: Secretary of State John Kerry forcefully denounced Russia for trying to create a pretext to further invade Ukraine, and he pledged U.S. commitment to Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity after announcing $1 billion in loan guarantees for the new government.
“We'll 'stand by the Ukrainian people' Not a single piece of credible evidence supports any one of these claims," Kerry said, adding that it was clear "that Russia has been working hard to create a pretext to invade further" in Ukraine. – Elise Labott and Tom Cohen
For the latest in this ongoing conflict, consult the Crisis in Ukraine liveblog featuring reporting and analysis from Crimea, Kiev, and around the world.
OVERSHADOWED …. OBAMA UNVEILS 2014 BUDGET PROPOSAL…
President Barack Obama on Tuesday released a nearly $4 trillion budget proposal for 2015 that includes more generous tax breaks for working families while scaling back breaks for the wealthy. His budget, while not expected to be enacted by Congress, does offer the president's fiscal policy vision for the country. As expected, Obama's blueprint sticks to the topline spending limits already set by the House and Senate for 2015. – Jeanne Sahadi
WITHOUT HESITATION, GOP LEADERS PAN HIS PLAN …
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: “Perhaps his most irresponsible budget yet.”
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KENTUCKY: “It seems to me like the President’s just about given up on helping folks who are in the middle, folks who feel like Washington doesn’t take their concerns and anxieties into consideration anymore.”
HOUSE BUDGET CHAIRMAN PAUL RYAN, R-WISCONSIN: “This budget isn’t a serious document; it’s a campaign brochure. In divided government, we need leadership and collaboration. And in this budget, we have neither.”
JUST IN … PEW REPORT FINDS HILLARY GAINING IN “LIKABILITY”
In a new national poll from the Pew Research Center and USA Today, Hillary Clinton is seen as Tough, Honest, and More Likeable … Yet 40% Don’t Associate Her with New Ideas.
The survey shows “about half of Americans (51%) want to see Hillary Clinton run for president in 2016, while 43% say they would not want to see her run. If Clinton decides to run, however, most say they would consider voting for her.” Interesting note: Independents are split on whether they would like her to run 45% (yes) – 48% (no).
“The public also rejects the notion that Clinton is unlikable – a change from the 2008 Democratic primary campaign:” 36% say Clinton is “hard to like.” (In March 2008, that number stood at 51%.)
Gut Check Flash Back: Then-Senator Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton at a presidential debate in New Hampshire on January 5 2008, ” “You’re likable enough, Hillary”
PRIMARY DAY: TEXAS IS TESTED … Voters in Texas are heading to the polls today in the first primary elections of 2014. Supporters of the tea party were hoping to defeat two GOP incumbents, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Pete Sessions, but it appears as if these veteran lawmakers will hold on – victories that all but assures that each incumbent will win re-election in the November general election.
Today, is also the official launch of George P. Bush’s political career, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, grandson of President George H.W. Bush, and nephew of President George W. Bush. George P. is running for Texas Land Commissioner.
And state Sen. Wendy Davis is positioned to become the Democratic nominee for governor, where she will face off against Attorney General Greg Abbott for the right to replace Gov. Rick Perry in Austin.
BUT HERE’S THE REAL KICKER … ‘IMPEACH OBAMA’ DEMOCRAT MAY BECOME TEXAS SENATE NOMINEE … “Kesha Rogers — a perennial candidate from Houston who wants to impeach Obama — is in the lead among Democratic candidates to challenge Cornyn in the general election, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released on Monday. That’s bad news for a party pushing a narrative about resurgence, relevance and seriousness. Yesterday the Texas Democratic Party sent an email with the subject line ‘Don’t Vote For Kesha Rogers’ that called her candidacy ‘an insult’ and mentioned that she’d ‘paraded around Texas with a poster of the President with a Hitler mustache.’ – Texas Observer’s Emily DePrang
MARKET WATCH: S&P 500 ends at record high in stock rebound on Ukraine crisis easing. Dow's 224-point gain is biggest of the year.
Name two of the three things that Sec. John Kerry is said to have always carried with him on the campaign trail in 2004.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Kentucky leaders go in opposite directions on same-sex marriage appeal
Kentucky's governor will hire outside lawyers to appeal a federal judge's ruling on same-sex marriage, after the state attorney tearfully refused Tuesday to take part in further legal challenges. The ruling requires officials to formally recognize legal marriages among gays and lesbians performed outside the state. – Bill Mears
Leading Houston Chronicle: Eyes on GOP as Texas holds nation's 1st primary
Texas is holding the nation's first primary election Tuesday with a political free-for-all in Republican races that could push the state further right, though Democrats are calling it the next big electoral battleground. Republicans are favored to win them all come November — including Perry's seat, despite Democrat Wendy Davis building a national profile and an early $16 million fundraising haul to match. She has energized Texas Democrats, who haven't won a statewide race in 20 years but insist the tide is turning.
Leading Atlanta Journal-Constitution: VP Biden raises money and promotes Obama agenda during Atlanta visit
Vice President Joe Biden visited Atlanta on Tuesday to discuss the Obama administration’s health care law, promote a higher minimum wage, support early childhood education and raise money for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. – Mark Niesse
Leading Drudge: Phew!
Vladimir Putin said he sees no immediate need to invade eastern Ukraine as the Obama administration prepares $1 billion in loan guarantees for the cash-strapped nation and threatens sanctions against Russia. – Ilya Arkhipov, Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Stepan Kravchenko
Leading HuffPo: Americans Think Republicans Are Out Of Touch, But Plan To Vote For Them Anyway
Americans overwhelmingly consider Republicans to be out of touch, and they trust them less than Democrats on the issues - but that doesn't mean the GOP is in bad shape for the 2014 elections. – Ariel Edwards-Levy
Leading The Hill: Ralph Hall fights for his political life
Congress’s oldest member is facing the toughest race of his career. Ninety-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) will square off Tuesday against former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe (R) for the right to end his 34-year congressional career on his own terms. – Cameron Joseph
The political bites of the day
– Albright: Putin is delusional –
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT IN AN INTERVIEW WITH KATE BOLDUAN ON CNN’S “NEW DAY”: “I agree with what Angela Merkel said after she spoke with him – that he’s living in some other world. I think that either he does not have the facts. He is being fed propaganda or his own propaganda. It doesn't make any sense. ….Putin is in many ways, I think, delusional about this.”
CONGRESS TO OBAMA ON UKRAINE: ACT NOW
MARYLAND REP. STENY HOYER, WHO SERVED AS CHAIR OF THE U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION, TO CNN’S DEIRDRE WALSH: "I think certainly within the next 30 days if it's not resolved that the international community needs to take action, including the United States. As the President indicated – I strongly support – their need to be adverse consequences to the Russians and economic are the most – are what we're talking about. We're not talking about military action."
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLORIDA, MEMBER OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE AND REP. TOM COTTON, R-ARKANSAS, MEMBER OF THE HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE IN AN OP-ED FOR CNN.COM: “It is critical the House of Representatives and Senate work together to send a strong and unified message that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable, and take quick action to punish President Vladimir Putin. While we are both relatively new to Washington, we've been here long enough to realize that our divided Congress isn't good at "quick action" or "unified messages."
– Lawmaker: FIFA should reconsider 2016 World Cup in Sochi –
SEN. DAN COATS, R-INDIANA, IN AN OP-ED FOR FOX NEWS: "But now we should together ask FIFA to reconsider its decision to place World Cup 2016 matches in Sochi. It should look for an alternative now so that planning can begin elsewhere. "
– Palin: Putin wrestles bears, Obama wears mom jeans –
FORMER GOV. SARAH PALIN OF ALASKA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH SEAN HANNITY ON FOX NEWS ON MONDAY: “Anybody who carries the common-sense gene knows that Putin doesn’t change his stripes. He harkens back to the era of the czars and he wants the Russian empire to grow again ... People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.”
– Bibi: Kerry never sleeps –
ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SPEAKING AT THE AMERICAN ISRAEL PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CONFERENCE (AIPAC) POLICY CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON: “We all have so much to gain from peace. That’s why I want to thank the indomitable John Kerry. You know New York and Tel Aviv– they are the cities that never sleep. John Kerry is definitely the Secretary of State who never sleeps and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it. We are working together literally day and night to seek a durable peace, a peace anchored at solid security arrangements and the mutual recognition of two nation states.”
– Menendez: Iran is plotting against us –
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ, D-NEW JERSEY, SPEAKING AT THE AMERICAN ISRAEL PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CONFERENCE (AIPAC) POLICY CONFERENCE IN WASHINGTON: “Make no mistake; while they are smiling at our negotiators across the table, they are plotting in the back room. With all of this in mind, I believe in the wisdom of the prospective sanctions that I have proposed, I believe in the lessons of history that tell us Iran cannot be trusted to live up to its word without external pressure. I believe that an insurance policy that guards against Iranian obfuscation and deception is the best way forward.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Lindsey Graham (GrahamBlog)
It started with Benghazi. When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression. #Ukraine
Sam Stein (@samsteinhp)
It started with Benghazi. When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of name-butchering #travolta
Meredith Shiner (@meredithshiner)
Friendly reminder as senators prepare to speak on floor about #Ukraine: Banking is the committee with jurisdiction over sanctions.
Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford)
FACT: #POTUS' #budget expands the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which would benefit 1.7 million families in 2015. #OpportunityForAll
Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz)
Calling Pres. Obama's proposal to increase national debt almost $5 TRILLION over 10 years a "budget" seems like abuse of the word "budget"
Mike Memoli (@mikememoli)
Sen. McConnell wonders why @SenatorReid left out "billionaire Tom Steyer." Says he and Kochs have right to participate in democracy
Seema Mehta (@LATSeema)
#CAGov candidate Donnelly likens Obama to Hitler, Stalin on gun control latimes.com/local/politica…
Rep. Steve Stockman (@StockmanSenate)
Cruz refuses to back Cornyn: "Cornyn...faces tea party-backed Rep. Steve Stockman...Cruz declined to tell reporters how he plans to vote."
Ana Navarro (@ananavarro)
This is best thing to happen to @JohnCornyn. Cornyn's going to win big & is not going to owe Cruz zilch, zero, nada. http://politi.co/1koaHFD
JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews)
From two sources: Tonight Janet Murguia, President of NCLR, will call President Obama "Deporter in Chief".
Elmira Bayrasli (@endeavoringE)
Facebook In Talks To Acquire Drone Maker Titan Aerospace (their solar-powered drones can fly for 5 years w/o landing) http://buff.ly/Nr0Q6Y
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
While campaigning for president in 2004, John Kerry carried a rosary, a prayer book and a medal with the image of St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers.
Kerry, who wore that same medal during his time fighting in the Vietnam War, is a Roman Catholic and often mentions his time serving as an altar boy growing up. During his 2004 acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in Boston, Kerry said, “faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday.”
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Melanie Parker (@parkerml) 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.