CNN's GUT CHECK for March 6, 2014
March 6th, 2014
06:20 PM ET
9 months ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for March 6, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 6, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

DEVELOPING …. PRESIDENT OBAMA SAYS REFERENDUM IN CRIMEA WOULD VIOLATE INTERNATIONAL LAW: “The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law. Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014 we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads over the heads of democratic leaders.”

MEANWHILE … REPUBLICANS RALLY, TESTING MESSAGES FOR 2014… On day one of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), GOP rising stars and presidential hopefuls took to the stage at a convention center at National Harbor, Maryland.

TED CRUZ KICKS IT OFF, BRINGS THE CROWD TO THEIR FEET: The freshman Republican from Texas called for the abolition of the IRS, urged the adoption of a fair tax, and said that "every single word of Obamacare" needs to be repealed.

CRUZ: "You want to lose elections, stand for nothing. Look at the last four congressional elections - 06, 08, 10, and 12. Three of the four we followed that strategy; 06, 08, 12 we put our head down, we stood for nothing and we got walloped. The one election that was a tremendous election was in 2010 when Republicans drew a line in the sand. We said we stand unequivocally against Obamacare, against bankrupting the country and we won an history tidal wave of an election," Cruz said.

CHRISTIE URGES POSITIVE MESSAGE: Receiving a warm reception from the audience, Christie said the GOP needs to change the way it shares its message with voters in order to defeat Democrats in this year’s midterms.

CHRISTIE: “We’ve got to start talking about what we’re for and not what we’re against. … We don't get to govern if we don't win...let's come out of this conference resolved to win elections again"

MCCONNELL COMES ARMED: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell showed up at CPAC brandishing a rifle. McConnell was giving Coburn the NRA's "Courage Under Fire" lifetime achievement award.

SEN. RUBIO QUESTIONS OBAMA, IGNORES IMMIGRATION: In a 16 and a half minute-long speech, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, touted a robust foreign policy agenda, bashing the president for his lack of leadership, and left out immigration policy altogether.

RUBIO: “I don't like to make these issues of national security partisan 'cause it's important that our country be united in moments like this. But we cannot ignore that the flawed foreign policy of the last few years have brought us to this stage, because we have a president who believed but by the sheer force of his personality, he would be able to shape global events. We have a president who believed that by going around the world and giving key speeches in key places, he could shape the behavior of other nations and other people.”

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL QUESTIONS OBAMA’S INTELLIGENCE: “We have long thought and said this President is a smart man. It may be time to revisit that assumption.”

THE BUZZ: CPAC BOOTH OFFERS REPUBLICANS CHANCE TO THROW THINGS AT DEMOCRATS - OR CHRIS CHRISTIE: CNN’s Sara Fischer and Dan Merica report: Filling the basement of convention center in National Harbor, where CPAC is underway, are dozens of booths, set up to hand out flyers, candy and other knick-knacks to woo conference attendees. One booth, however, is not handing out goodies. Instead, they’re offering stress relief in the form of brick-shaped sponges that passer-byers can use to whack cut-out pictures of politicians’ faces.

The pool of ten politicians includes several democrats, such as Sec. of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, as well as IRS Director Lois Lerner. And then, there is one Republican: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

While the official count is still being tabulated, Voter Brick tells CNN that Hillary Clinton and Sec. of State John Kerry so far have the most votes. Christie, despite having spoken at the conference, also has “a few.”

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer below)
Who has won the most number of CPAC straw polls?

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics.com: House approves aid for Ukraine
The House of Representatives Thursday overwhelmingly approved a financial aid package for Ukraine, authorizing up to $1 billion in loan guarantees. The vote was 385 to 23.

Leading Drudge: Christie Standing O At CPAC
The crowd gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference rose to its feet as Chris Christie exited stage left. The New Jersey governor, who has been dogged by a scandal stemming from revelations that members of his administration conspired to shut down traffic lanes leading on to the George Washington Bridge, came to CPAC on Thursday in need of a reception like that, and the party faithful delivered. – Eliana Johnson

Leading Politico: Harry Reid has no apologies
Republicans think Harry Reid is running the Senate like a dictator: His no-compromise style is almost like Vladimir Putin’s, and his inflammatory rhetoric is reminiscent of the Joe McCarthy era. But Reid doesn’t seem to care. “Get a brain, OK?” the Senate majority leader snapped at a reporter, when asked why he doesn’t permit far more votes on GOP amendments. “You’re a smart guy.” – Manu Raju and Burgess Everett

Leading HuffPo: John Boehner Defends Darrell Issa Over Heated IRS Hearing
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) Thursday amid Democratic calls to remove Issa from his post as chair of the House Oversight Committee over a contentious hearing on the Internal Revenue Service. "From what I understand, I think Mr. Issa was within his rights to adjourn the hearing when he did," Boehner told reporters at his weekly press conference. "The issue here is our effort to try to get the truth of the abuse by the IRS of groups around the country that some in the administration don't agree with." – Sabrina Siddiqui

– Pelosi: He says that because he’s under pressure –
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI AT A GOP WEEKLY PRESSER: “With all the respect in the world for the Speaker in terms - I think that he is a courteous gentleman, he must be under a lot of pressure if he thinks what Darrell Issa did was OK.”

Leading New York Times: New Democratic Strategy Goes After Koch Brothers
On Thursday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is starting a digital campaign that will use Internet ads and videos, as well as social media, to tie Republican Senate candidates to the policies and actions of the Koch brothers. Its slogan: “The G.O.P. is addicted to Koch” (pronounced coke). – Ashley Parker

HOT SOTS
The political bites of the day

– Issa: I don’t know what to believe anymore –
RANKING MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-MARYLAND, AT A PRESSER: “Honestly, I can't keep up with all of Chairman Issa's Pinocchios.”

– Graham explains Benghazi-Ukraine tweet –
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S DANA BASH: "The point I'm trying to make is that there's been too many times in the last six months where the President has told people, 'if you don't do what I say, there'll be consequences,' and nothing's happened."

– Reid: I am bad bait –
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID IN AN INTERVIEW WITH POLITICO EXPLAINING WHY REPUBLICANS CAN USE HIS LEADERSHIP AS AN ISSUE IN MIDTERM ELECTIONS: “Most people don’t know who I am.”

– Bernie Sanders: ‘I am prepared to run’ for President –
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VERMONT, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE NATIONAL REVIEW: “I don't believe that I am the only person out there who can fight this fight, but I am certainly prepared to look seriously at that race … If the question is, am I actively right now organizing and raising money and so forth for a campaign for president, I am not doing that. On the other hand, am I talking to people around the country? Yes, I am.”

– War or not war? That is the question –
DEP. ASST. SECRETARY FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS ERIC RUBIN AT THE HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE HEARING: “We have said very clearly that we know what we have seen which is military aggression, intervention in the affairs of a sovereign country, violation of legal commits, violation of international law. That is what we see. That is what we are calling it.”

CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY REP. MIKE MCCAUL, R-TEXAS: “I do think we should call it what it is. You said it is very clear it’s a violation of international law. I believe this is also very clear that this is an act of war against another nation.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA IN A PRESS CONFERENCE: “Since the Russian intervention, we have been mobilizing the international community to condemn this violation of international law and to support the government and people of Ukraine.”

– The Denny’s Grand Slam –
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KENTUCKY, AT CPAC: “The president of the United States is treating our constitution worse than a placemat at Denny's. I've spent so much time over in the Supreme Court trying to stop these guys, I'm practically on a first name basis with the bailiff. Obamacare, the EPA, the unconstitutional recess appointments, it never stops. It's just about power for these people.”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Allison L. Grimes (@AlisonForKY)
Someone tell @Team_Mitch that's not the way to hold a gun. KY women do it better. #kysen

Betsy Fischer Martin (‏@BetsyNBC)
Christie #CPAC checklist: Plenty of pro-life references, an attack on media, hit Obamacare and criticize income inequality message. Done.

McKay Coppins (‏@mckaycoppins)
Paul Ryan: "Right now, the tax code is 10 times the size of the Bible, and has none of the good news."

Shane Goldmacher ‏(@ShaneGoldmacher)
What a split screen: McConnell on stage at #CPAC2014 with a gun while Dalai Lama opens Senate session at the Capitol

Philip Klein (@philipaklein)
Jindal now moves into describing his education reforms, which he seems more suited for than the red meat stuff.

Matt Lewis ‏(@mattklewis)
Rubio is the first CPAC speaker I've heard today to devote substantial time to foreign policy and America's leadership role.

Chris Moody (‏@moody)
@mattklewis pssst....John Bolton.

Luke Russert (‏@LukeRussert)
Chair of Congressional Black Caucus calls on Boehner to remove Issa from Oversight Comt after mic cutting incident http://cbc.fudge.house.gov/uploads/CBC%20Letter%20to%20Speaker%20Boehner%20RE%20Chairman%20Darrell%20Issa_FINAL.pdf

Mo Elleithee (‏@MoElleithee)
If you want to support @TheDemocrats this election year, help me make the truth go viral by becoming a #Factivist: http://factivists.democrats.org

Brad Dayspring (@BradDayspring)
DSCC Teaches Candidates How To Run, Duck & Cover… But voters know better. http://bit.ly/1g36dE1 #NCsen #KYsen #NHsen #NHpoli

Laura Bassett (‏@LEBassett)
Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell both voted for Gillibrand's military sexual assault proposal, but it failed to make it to 60

john r stanton ‏(@dcbigjohn)
this Gilibrand v McCaskill military sexual assault debate is a rare instance of Democracy actually working the way its supposed to

Kara Rowland ‏(@kararowland)
Today is the one-year anniversary of Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster against CIA Director John Brennan, his office notes in a release.

Justin Miller ‏(@justinjm1)
Clarence Thomas’s wife asks if the Obama administration provided material support to terrorists http://thebea.st/1mZfqTa

GallupNews ‏(@GallupNews)
Number of Americans Saying #ACA Has Hurt Them Inches Up... http://on.gallup.com/1njnWZU pic.twitter.com/DS7Odc9hnL

TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer

Mitt Romney has won the most CPAC straw polls in the history of the conference: four. President Ronald Reagan and Rep. Jack Kemp follow behind with three consecutive wins each, and Rep. Ron Paul won two.

The ballot for this year’s straw poll was released today. It does not include Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush. See below.

Thinking ahead to the 2016 Presidential election, who would you vote for as the next Republican nominee for President?

1. NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
2. KS Governor Sam Brownback
3. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
4. NJ Governor Chris Christie
5. TX Senator Ted Cruz
6. Former IN Governor Mitch Daniels
7. SC Governor Nikki Haley
8. Former AR Governor Mike Huckabee
9. LA Governor Bobby Jindal
10. OH Governor John Kasich
11. NM Governor Susana Martinez
12. Former AK Governor Sarah Palin
13. KY Senator Rand Paul
14. IN Governor Mike Pence
15. TX Governor Rick Perry
16. OH Senator Rob Portman
17. Former Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice
18. FL Senator Marco Rubio
19. WI Congressman Paul Ryan
20. Former PA Senator Rick Santorum
21. SC Senator Tim Scott
22. SD Senator John Thune
23. Business Executive Donald Trump
24. WI Governor Scott Walker
25. Former FL Congressman Allen West
26. Other _______________________
27. Undecided

See more: CPAC: 'Las Vegas' for young conservatives

GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)

Congrats to Alex Coelho (@apcoelho) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.

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Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. rs

    Perverting that old Guinness advertisement- A McConnell with a gun is like a fish with a bicycle. Anyone who thinks this is a "gun man" is too easily fooled!

    March 6, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. rs

    As someone who long ago voted Republican because Republicans were clearly the people with strong foreign policy credentials (not strong as in willing to go to war at the drop of a hat, but schooled, smart), and people who favored logical and fiscally sound policies, I am again aghast at how simply weird the party as become. There they are at CPAC- waving guns; insulting the President's intelligence (really? the guy has 3 graduate degrees); railing against a foreign policy they put in place with their unfunded and ill-conceived wars far away in the Middle East; their embrace of anti-democratic policies surrounding voting, citizenship and immigration; their irrational hatred of the poor and middle classes- one could go on and on.

    It is as if the GOP needs a mirror so that they can see what their idiotic laws (like AZ's SB 1062, or SB 1070) look like to the rest of the nation or the world. Their perversion of religion as a justification of ways to enshrine discrimination, or to punish the poor (what Gospel is that one?).

    These are deeply sick and disturbed people who long ago lost any sense of honor, service or patriotism.

    March 6, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  3. g

    Guess who funding these guys

    March 6, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  4. DRAKE MALLARD

    “Gone are the days when the Republican Party used to put forward big bold visionary stuff…We’re gonna have problems politically until we get some sort of third party movement or some alternate voice out there that can put forward new ideas.”
    ~Jon Huntsman,

    The fat cats in DC need to cut their OWN salaries, benefits and
    pensions while they are at it. I know, I won’t be holding my breath for
    that one!!. (They vote on their own raises, healthcare, and pension
    plans, and we are left with the bill)

    The Tea Party and other extremists are destroying the GOP, and
    permanently stripping it of any credibility in the minds of thinking
    people. In 10 years time, provided they don't get us all killed, we'll
    be wondering how anyone could ever buy such a bill of spoiled goods.

    March 6, 2014 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    Get rid off these old senile, Mitch McConnell, for the sake of USA.

    March 7, 2014 07:43 am at 7:43 am |