CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 13, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
TROUBLE FOR THE MIDTERMS? The state that launched then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, Iowa, is not looking so favorably on him now, according to a new Quinnipiac Poll released today. The Q-poll shows that Obama has a dismal 39% approval rating among Iowans. At this point, though, Obama does not appear to be dragging down the Democratic candidate for Senate, Bruce Braley, who the Q-poll said is viewed favorably by 35%, and unfavorably by 18% of Iowans. Still, Democratic strategists tell CNN’s Mark Preston that they are very much concerned about the President’s stagnant poll numbers as they nervously head into November.
But Hillary’s not hurting… The Q-poll also shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with double digit leads over three other possible GOP presidential contenders in 2016…. 48% of registered voters in Iowa say they would back Clinton in 2016 if she were the Democratic Party's nominee, with 35% saying they'd support New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie if he were the GOP nominee. A flip from December… when Christie had a five-point 45%-40% edge over Clinton in the hypothetical battle for Iowa's six electoral votes.
But it’s not all roses… A majority of Americans don't believe the explanations by Christie and Clinton about two controversies that continue to dog them as they seriously consider White House runs, according to a Bloomberg National poll.
PALIN PICKS FAVORITES… Thursday the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee backed Chris McDaniel, the conservative state senator in Mississippi who's challenging Sen. Thad Cochran… Earlier Thursday she threw her support behind Ben Sasse for the GOP nomination in Nebraska… Wednesday afternoon, Palin endorsed former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon in his bid for the open Senate seat in his state… – Paul Steinhauser
RYAN ‘INNER CITY’ COMMENTS SPARK BACKLASH: Paul Ryan said comments he made on a conservative radio program about people in inner cities not valuing the “culture of work” were “inarticulate.”… “I was not implicating the culture of one community-but of society as a whole,” Ryan said in a statement after fellow members of Congress pounced on his comments as being offensive and tinged with racism… – Leigh Ann Caldwell
TECH-CULTURE AMBITIONS IN CALI. RACE: Can Silicon Valley disrupt the Democratic Party?
…With California's new "top-two" nonpartisan primary system, Khanna and Honda are primed to face off, Democrat-on-Democrat, in the general election this November if both emerge, as expected, as the top finishers in June's primary…The financial muscle of Silicon Valley Democrats, socially liberal but staunchly pro-business and skeptical of institutions, has been a growing source of anxiety for old-line party regulars in California… – Peter Hamby
‘EAT YOUR HEART OUT ELLEN’ Colin Powell posts 60-year-old selfie to Facebook
THE BUZZ: “Please pray for me” – @Pontifex, the social media-savvy head of the Catholic Church, tweeted on his one-year anniversary as Pope.
Pope Francis had part of which organ removed when he was a young man?
MARKET WATCH: Tough day for U.S. stocks: Dow tumbles 232 points on global economic worries. Nasdaq and S&P 500 fall more than 1%.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: What are the CIA and Senate fighting about?
A public fight this week between the CIA and the Democratic head of the Senate Intelligence Committee is the latest act in a years-long drama over waterboarding. It involves substantive issues such as CIA spying on Congress and the power of the legislative branch to oversee the executive branch. At the core, the matter focuses on how much history to reveal about the way America detained and interrogated terror suspects in response to the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks. – Tom Cohen
Leading Drudge: ‘There is nothing’
Search planes dispatched Thursday to examine an area where Chinese satellite images showed what might have been debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 found nothing, officials told CBS News. The Malaysian Air Force director of operations told CBS News in Kuala Lumpur that planes sent up based on the Chinese satellite images from Sunday, the day after Flight 370 went missing south of Vietnam, had located no debris. – CBS
Leading HuffPo: Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Press Republicans To Keep Focus On Social Issues
Invoking fiery references to Satan, "savagery" and a "culture of death" to criticize their opponents, anti-abortion lawmakers on Wednesday insisted that Republican contenders keep an intense focus on social issues in the upcoming midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. – Philip Elliott, AP
Leading The New York Times: At Least 2 Dead After Car Crashes Into Crowd at South by Southwest Festival
Two people were killed and at least 23 others were injured early Thursday morning at the South by Southwest festival when a driver evading arrest slammed his car into vehicles and pedestrians walking along crowded streets, the police in Austin, Tex., said. Five of the injured were in critical condition, the authorities said. – David Montgomery and Timothy Williams
The political bites of the day
–Attorney General Eric Holder: Incarceration system ‘unsustainable’–
“Although the United States comprises just five percent of the world's population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world's prisoners. One in 28 American children currently has a parent behind bars. State and federal governments spent a combined $80 billion on incarceration during 2010 alone. And as you know, of the more than 216,000 current federal inmates, nearly half are serving time for drug-related crimes. This focused reliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable, it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate.”
–Dem. Leader Nancy Pelosi: GOP is ‘wasting their time’ making issue of Obamacare–
“I'm very proud of our House democrats and how they have not only embraced the Affordable Care Act - because they helped create it - but how proud they are of it. I think that the republicans are wasting their time using that as their electoral issue and they will find that out.”
–Gov. Chris Christie vs. hecklers at New Jersey town hall–
"Either sit down or keep quiet, or get out…Either one. We're done with you,” Christie said after the first protester stood up about 35 minutes into the event. The GOP governor later added: “These folks who come in here today, ginned up for their own partisan purposes, they're getting exactly what they want…What they want is attention. They want partisan political attention from a media that's hungry to give it to them."
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner)
With reverence, have invited His Holiness Pope Francis (@Pontifex) to address Joint Meeting of Congress at @USCapitol http://j.mp/1fu30sM
John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood)
Congress will know how big its problems are if @Pontifex decides to do Between Two Ferns instead…
Mike Memoli (@mikememoli)
With Jolly sworn in, there are now 233 Republicans, 199 Democrats, and 3 vacancies in the House.
Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDCNN)
#KeystoneXL @JohnKerry just gave rare public statement, saying he's approaching his recommendation as "tabula rasa", w/ a clean page.
Gallup News (@GallupNews)
Climate Change Not a Top Worry in U.S.... http://on.gallup.com/1khXbUm #ClimateChange pic.twitter.com/D9DRNs5mRm
Mark Knoller (@markknoller)
At WH briefing, @PressSec says US working to identify addtl targets of US sanctions against Russia if it doesn't back down in Ukraine.
Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim)
Corker, lead R negotiator on Ukraine pkg, says of accusation Kochs holding up aid: "that's a ridiculous thing to say" confident it'll pass
Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein)
Obama on Gap trip: "Fortunately Sasha and Malia liked the sweaters I got for them."
Jim Acosta (@JimAcostaCNN)
Graham caught on hot mic telling Kerry at Senate hearing: "Good job. Let me know what I can do to help you with Boehner"
Jason Seher (@jhseher)
@JimAcostaCNN Graham's primary challengers will have new web vids cut by the close of business...
TRIVIA ANSWER from @danadavidsen
Pope Francis had part of one lung removed when he was a young man, but is in good health, according to the Vatican.
Today marks one year since Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th Pope, making history as the first non-European pontiff of the modern era, the first from Latin America, the first Jesuit and the first to assume the name Francis.
Shattering precedents from the get-go, in his first public act, rather than bless the crowd first, he asked them to pray for him. He also refused to use a platform to elevate himself above the cardinals standing with him as he was introduced to the world as Pope Francis.
President Barack Obama will meet with the Pope for the first time on March 27 at the Vatican.
The Pope's first year, in 60 seconds
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Hillary, just take some rest, we love you dearly. Yes, Hillary16.