CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 26, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING …. PRESIDENT OBAMA PREPARES FOR MEETING WITH POPE FRANCIS: Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev reports: “Obama will meet Thursday with Pope Francis at the Vatican as the American leader struggles with declining influence at home and abroad. He’s also trying to gain favor with two of the pope’s main constituencies in the U.S.: the working poor and Hispanics.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER REACTS TO LATEST OBAMACARE EXTENSION AT A GOP PRESSER: 'What the hell is this, a joke?'
BOEHNER BYPASS? HOUSE CONSERVATIVES HAVE THEIR OWN MIDTERM MESSAGE … CNN’s Deirdre Walsh reports: An influential group of House conservatives, unhappy with the midterm strategy of Speaker John Boehner and other top House Republicans, plans to lay out its own election year message on the economy on Wednesday. "I think our leadership has been good about showing what we're against. I think one area where we've had weakness is we really haven't shown what we're for," Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise said.
HUCKABEE HUDDLES WITH HOUSE REPUBLICANS… CNN’s Paul Steinhauser reports: Mike Huckabee quietly met with dozens of House Republican lawmakers here in the nation's capital on Wednesday, as the former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate mulls another bid for the White House.
According to two sources close to Huckabee, the former governor received a "warm welcome" from "an enthusiastic crowd," which consisted of 73 GOP House members.
WISCONSIN GOV. SCOTT WALKER HOLDS LEAD OVER CHALLENGER MARY BURKE IN NEW POLL … A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democratic candidate Mary Burke, 48 to 41 percent, in the run-up to Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election this November. Walker held a 47 to 41 percent advantage in the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, taken in January.
The poll of 801 Wisconsin registered voters was conducted by cell phone and landline March 20-23 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. – Chris Jenkins of Marquette University
SARAH PALIN ENDORSES 'CASTRATING HOGS' CANDIDATE … Sarah Palin announced Wednesday she's throwing her support behind Joni Ernst for an open U.S. Senate seat in Iowa, picking up on the GOP candidate's new campaign theme of cutting "through the pork" in Washington.
The former Alaska governor, 2008 vice presidential nominee, and conservative firebrand said in a post to her Facebook page that if Deb Fischer, a Republican senator from Nebraska who Palin backed in 2012, "can see through the bull in Washington, then Iowa's Joni Ernst can help her cut through the pork."
Gut Check Flashback: IOWA CONGRESSIONAL HOPEFUL JODI ERNST IN HER FIRST CAMPAIGN AD TUESDAY: “I’m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork … I support this message because Washington is full of big spenders; Let’s make ‘em squeal.”
THE BUZZ … MORE THAN BUZZED
CNN’s Evan Perez reports: Three Secret Service agents were sent home after one of them was found passed out after a night of drinking in Amsterdam, an official familiar with the incident told CNN. The agents were in the Netherlands as part of a contingent preparing for President Barack Obama's visit there this week.
According to the official, one Secret Service agent was found intoxicated and passed out in the hallway of his hotel. Hotel staff subsequently alerted U.S. authorities.
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end lower in late sell-off. Dow drops 99 points. NASDAQ falls 1.4%. Candy Crush maker IPO loses 15.6%.
Today’s question, inspired by Bruce Braley, is the following: Have more U.S. senators from Iowa had a background in farming or law?
Gut Check Flashback: BRALEY STUMBLES: Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, a leading candidate for the U.S. Senate this year, was put on the defensive Tuesday by a video clip showing him warning that a Republican Senate takeover could leave the GOP's Chuck Grassley – "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school" – in charge of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: IRS agrees to hand over emails to Issa
Following heated exchanges with House Republicans, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Wednesday told a congressional committee that he will hand over all of the emails of Lois Lerner, the former IRS official under investigation for the agency's targeting of conservative groups. – Lisa Desjardins
Leading Washington Post: Obama gives Iraq war a more generous spin
President Obama, whose presidential campaign in 2008 took off in large part because of his criticism of the Iraq war, on Wednesday used that war as a contrast to what Russia is doing in Ukraine. Speaking in Brussels, Obama dismissed suggestions by Russia and its supporters that the Iraq war undercuts the United States' credibility in criticizing Russia's incursion into Crimea in Ukraine. – Aaron Blake
Leading Las Vegas Sun: Reid returns campaign money paid to granddaughter for 'holiday gifts'
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reimbursed his campaign nearly $17,000 paid to his granddaughter for “holiday gifts” in late 2013, after the Federal Election Commission insisted that his campaign clarify why the money was spent. The FEC sent the treasurer for Friends of Harry Reid a letter insisting that he “must include a brief statement or description … to clarify the following description: ‘holiday gifts.’” – Karoun Demirjian
Leading Detroit Free Press: Gov. Snyder: Same-sex marriages legal but won't be recognized because of stay
Gov. Rick Snyder said the nearly 300 same-sex marriages performed on Saturday are legal but won’t be recognized by the state because of a stay put on a judicial decision that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. “With respect to the marriages, we believe those are legal and valid marriages,” he told reporters on Wednesday. But “we won’t recognize the benefits of the marriage until there’s a removal of the stay,” he added. – Kathryn Grey and Paul Egan
Leading Drudge: Oh Well
Did anyone really doubt that the final Obamacare enrollment deadline would slip, too? It’s not like the Obama administration is setting a new precedent with its latest move — giving customers more time to enroll after next Monday’s deadline if they’re already in line. – David Nather and Susan Levine
Leading HuffPo: Supreme Court Bolsters Domestic Violence Gun Ban Law
The Supreme Court says a federal law barring people convicted of minor domestic violence offenses from possessing guns can be enforced even in states where no proof of physical force is required to support the domestic violence charge.
Leading Politico: The invisible primary: GOP preps as Chris Christie stumbles
The Republican presidential field is aflutter with behind-the-scenes activity even at this preliminary stage, giving early shape to a race that has been defined in public by a handful of outsized media personalities, including Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Christie’s “Bridgegate” stumbles have now thrown the race wide open. – Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman
Leading New York Times: Mississippi Senate Race Boils Down to G.O.P. vs. Tea Party
Senator Thad Cochran smiled as placidly as the waters in Mobile Bay behind him, where the Jackson, a $350 million combat ship named in honor of his state’s capital, bobbed gently, awaiting its christening bottle of champagne. – Jonathan Wiesman
The political bites of the day
– Obama to the world: Pitch in –
PRESIDENT OBAMA AT AN E.U. PRESS CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS SPEAKING ON UKRAINE: “This situation in Ukraine reminds us that our freedom isn't free and we've got to be willing to pay for the assets, the personnel, and the training that's required to make sure we have a credible NATO force and an effective deterrent force. So one of the things, medium and long-term, we will have to examine is whether everybody is chipping in and this can't just be a U.S. exercise or a British exercise … Everybody is going to have to make sure that they are engaged and involved and I think that will help build more confidence among some of those border states.”
– Paul Ryan: Immigration will get done eventually –
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WISCONSIN, AT A U.S. HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE EVENT IN WASHINGTON: "We've got a broken system that needs fixing, and we have ideas on how to fix it. … We think there's a way to do it. To me, it's not a question of if we fix our broken immigration laws. It's really a question of when."
– Barbour slams Club for Growth President as out-of-state phony –
FORMER MISSISSIPPI GOV. HALEY BARBOUR IN AN OP-ED FOR THE SUN HERALD: “Regrettably, the author of a column in the Sun Herald last week is not bound by the facts. Instead, the op-ed written by former Congressman Chris Chocola is as hypocritical as it comes. I expected as much when I read the headline, ‘Thad Cochran is a liberal.’ But with all the out-of-state money being pumped into our state by groups like Chocola's Club for Growth, distortion was to be expected … Everybody reading this knows Cochran and his record of service. Every one of you can judge his service. But don't be swayed by some out-of-state phonies who couldn't tell you the difference between Pascagoula and Pontotoc.”
– Oldest member of Congress recalls selling cigarettes to Bonnie and Clyde when he was 12 –
REP. RALPH HALL, R-TEXAS, TO THE WASHINGTON POST: “They wanted a carton of Old Golds, two Coca-Colas and all the newspapers we had … I went and got what they wanted, they gave me $3 and they said keep the change.”
jennifer bendery (@jbendery)
Pelosi informed a few of us she gave up chocolate for Lent. How's it going, I asked. "Terrible. I'm dying."
- Boehner sends Pelosi chocolate for her birthday –
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI ON HER INSTAGRAM: “Thank you Speaker Boehner for this gift—a delicious taste of Cincinnati—on my birthday. It’s certainly testing me during Lent!”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Adam Levine (@cnnadam)
Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, was found guilty in connection with the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist operations.
Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour)
And then there’s this. @bbc_news: “North Korea: Men required to get Kim Jong-un haircuts” bbc.in/1juSCsX
Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim)
McCain: Russia is now a "gas station masquerading as a country," via @burgessev http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/john-mccain-russia-gas-station-105061.html …
Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP)
In statement, Obama praises House Dems for launching discharge petition on immigration bill.
Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews)
In statement, Obama re:immigration discharge petition slams "unwillingness of Rs in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country."
John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood)
Notice Hill leaders hold floor votes open past 15 min limit if need more votes? minority wants gavel down, majority shrugs. Same w/ACA ext
Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs)
Sirens went off all over Iowa when @SarahPalinUSA endorsed @joniernst for US Senate – it coincided with statewide tornado drill. #iapolitics
Paul Steinhauser (@psteinhauserCNN)
In his strongest language to date, Rick Santorum says he's "very open to taking on another run" for the White House http://cnn.it/1hYFHKo
Cameron Joseph (@cam_joseph)
.@CondoleezzaRice is jumping into the political fray, battling back against Tea Party/Libertarians (and Dems too): http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/201753-condi-rice-steps-onto-the-stage …
Sean Moffett (@TheSeanMoffett)
"National Labor Relations Board in Chicago rules Northwestern football players are school employees and can unionize." via @cnnbrk
Sara Ganim (@sganim)
NYU labor prof @RichardAEpstein: This has "vast implications for the structure of the sport if upheld." Long appeal works in NU's favor.
Andy Gruyaert (@AndyKP_Gr)
Facebook To Acquire Virtual Reality Headset Maker, Oculus, For $2 Billion In Cash and Stock by @mattsouthern http://buff.ly/1p2vYXZ #SEO #S…
Brian Stelter (@brianstelter)
One month ago on Reddit: "my friend works in the same building as Oculus and he ran into Mark Zuckerberg..." http://bit.ly/1hohrQp
Business Insider (@businessinsider)
Oculus fans HATE the Facebook deal because they think Zuckerberg wants their data. http://read.bi/Qfq89T
Frank Underwood (@Frank_Underwood)
Wiser to keep your options open. MT @petesouza: Pretty sure I couldn't work for Frank Underwood.
Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi)
Oops MT @jbendery LOL MT @rollcall: Nancy Pelosi's Epic Photobomb of @jbendery, @SabrinaSiddiqui and Janet Yellen http://roll.cl/1hokmIV
Paul R. La Monica (@LaMonicaBuzz)
It's going to be hard to get work done today. Really torn apart by this Gwyneth Paltrow-Chris Martin split. Poor Apple! Not $AAPL. #fixyou
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
More U.S. Senators from Iowa have had experience in law than farming and agriculture. Twenty-four of the 33 men who have held an Iowa Senate seat had a background in law, according to the official Senate web site. Eleven of the 33 had a background in farming/agriculture. And yes, there’s a lot of overlap here.
The GOP’s Chuck Grassley is one of only three senators from Iowa to have a background in farming but not law. The other two are Sen. Robert Jepsen, a Republican, and Clyde Herring, a Democrat.
Six of the Iowa’s 33 senators had no experience in either field
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