CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 5, 2014 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
POLL SHOWS SLIGHT ADVANTAGE FOR GOP IN 2014 … A new CNN/ORC poll shows that Republicans have a small advantage in the "generic ballot" question that monitors how Americans may vote in this year's congressional elections. But even a small advantage on that question - as well as other measures - suggest that 2014 could be a good year for GOP candidates.
Registered Voters' Choice for Congress
Sampling error: +/-3.5% pts
FIRST ON CNN: KEYSTONE BILL LIKELY TO FAIL IN THE SENATE … A congressional effort to bypass the White House and approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline appears likely to fizzle this week, CNN has learned. The development comes after three Democratic senators, who cast their support previously for the long-delayed, cross-border pipeline, said they would vote against the legislation. Such an outcome would be a victory for the Obama administration, which is reviewing environmental concerns about the politically-charged energy project. – Ted Barrett and Dana Bash
AMERICANS GROWING CONCERN OVER UKRAINE BUT LITTLE SUPPORT FOR MILITARY ACTION… A CNN/ORC International poll indicates that even if economic and diplomatic efforts fail in curbing Russia's aggression in the region, Americans still oppose U.S. military involvement. One quarter of those surveyed view Russia as an enemy of the United States, but only 18% see Ukraine as an ally.Thirty-six percent said they are very concerned about the situation in Ukraine – up six-percentage points since CNN last asked that question in early March. Those who said they were not concerned about the crisis dropped five points, to 22%.
CORKER ON RUSSIAN SANCTIONS: ‘WE’RE HIDING’ … Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, who has called for heavier economic sanctions on Russia and military aid to Ukraine, says that the current sanctions in place "are not affecting Putin's behavior" and that there is no question that sectoral sanctions are necessary in light of Russian actions in Ukraine, particularly in their meddling with the country's election process. "I think right now we're hiding," Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, said on 'The Lead with Jake Tapper.' "We're hiding behind Europe as it relates to these sanctions. It's very evident that we're not really willing to lead on this issue."
HOUSE DEMOCRATS UNCLEAR ON WHETHER THEY'LL BOYCOTT BENGHAZI PANEL … The number two House Democrat harshly criticized House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to move forward with a select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attack, and said Democrats haven’t decided yet if they’ll participate.
"We think this is a political, not a substantive effort," Rep. Steny Hoyer told reporters on Monday about legislative efforts to create the new committee. Hoyer said he would urge all fellow Democrats to vote against the bill that’s expected to be on the floor as early as this week.
The GOP-led House is expected to approve the panel, but it’s possible Democrats could boycott the committee’s investigation. Boehner announced Monday he was tapping South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, to chair the panel, but Democrats have not received any details on the structure, funding, or powers of the select committee. – Deirdre Walsh
JUSTICES ALLOW PUBLIC PRAYERS AT NEW YORK TOWN'S COUNCIL MEETINGS … The Supreme Court gave limited approval on Monday to public prayers at a New York town's board meetings, citing the country's history of religious acknowledgment in the legislature. The 5-4 ruling came in yet another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena. It was confined to the specific circumstances and offered little guidance on how other communities should offer civic prayers without violating the Constitution. – Bill Mears
THE BUZZ: BILL GATES NO LONGER MICROSOFT'S BIGGEST SHAREHOLDER … For the first time in Microsoft's history, founder Bill Gates is no longer its largest individual shareholder. In the past two days, Gates has sold nearly 8 million shares of Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), bringing down his total to roughly 330 million. That puts him behind Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer who owns 333 million shares. – Patrick M. Sheridan
SOCIAL WATCH: CROSSFIRE VIRTUAL DEBATE … Do you have any questions for Crossfire hosts S.E. Cupp and Van Jones about politics or any issues facing our nation? Have you been eager for the opportunity to debate with them? Join them Tuesday at 12:30pm ET in a live town hall-style video chat. You can also start submitting your questions now by tweeting them with #crossfire. RSVP here and bring your web cam!
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks recover from early sell-off to end modestly higher. Target shares slide 3.4% after CEO steps down.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, which president enjoys tequila and hot sauce as one of his favorite libations?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: First on CNN: Biden to raise money for South Carolina Democrats
Vice President Joe Biden will headline a fundraiser for the South Carolina Democratic Party on Friday, a source familiar with the event told CNN. Biden, who has kept his name in the 2016 mix even as Hillary Clinton consumes much of the presidential oxygen, will be in the early primary state to deliver the University of South Carolina commencement address on May 9. Before the speech, he’s hosting a closed-door lunch in Columbia that will raise money for the state Democratic Party, which is marshaling resources to unseat Republican Gov. Nikki Haley in November. – Peter Hamby
Leading CNNMoney: Target CEO Out
Gregg Steinhafel, the chairman and CEO of Target during the retailer's massive breach of customer data last year, has left the company effective immediately. The company announced that the decision was made after "extensive discussions" between Steinhafel and the board. Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan will serve as interim CEO, while board member Roxanne Austin will serve as interim non-executive chair of the board. – Chris Isidore
Leading Boston Globe: Mass. says flawed health website is too broken to fix
Massachusetts plans to completely scrap the state’s dysfunctional online health insurance website, deciding that it would be too expensive and time-consuming to fix the overwhelming number of flaws. Instead, officials will buy an off-the-shelf product used by several other states to enroll residents in health plans, while simultaneously preparing to join the federal HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace if that product fails. – Liz Kowalczyk
Leading Drudge: Pray!
The latest Supreme Court ruling on church-state separation is a victory for a town council in New York state that regularly opens its meetings with prayers. – AP's Mark Sherman
Leading HuffPo: Anti-Gay Stance Still Enshrined In Majority Of State GOP Platforms
As support for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals grows in the GOP, the official stance of the Republican Party remains rooted in opposition to those rights. The party's national platform, written in 2012, comes out strongly against LGBT equality and even calls for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. For the most part, the same remains true at the state level. – Amanda Terkel
Leading Politico: Dems antsy over CIA report
Wondering what happened to the controversial CIA interrogation report that the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify a month ago? So are many Senate Democrats. The response thus far from the Central Intelligence Agency and the White House: crickets. – Burgess Everett
Leading New York Times: At Derby Day With Murdoch, Rand Paul Goes Through His Paces
On the afternoon of the Kentucky Derby, Rand Paul, the state’s junior Republican senator and likely presidential candidate, spilled out of an elevator in the exclusive Jockey Club Suites of Churchill Downs with an entourage of women with flower-adorned hats, men in seersucker suits and Rupert Murdoch.
The political bites of the day
– Manchin: If I were running in 2014, I wouldn’t ask Obama to help me –
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-WEST VIRGINIA, ON MSNBC:
John Heilemann:“If you were running for reelection this year, two quick questions. One, would you ask the president to come campaign for you in West Virginia?”
Heilemann: “And two: Would you run away from Obamacare or would you embrace it in part or would you embrace it in whole?
MANCHIN: “No. From the health care act – Obamacare – you can’t go back to having the most expensive health care in the world … I wouldn’t have voted for what we have today. I would’ve hoped I would’ve had more input if I had been there, but what we’ve got is something we’ve got to work and make better.”
– State Dept. spokeswoman calls out GOP for subpoena hypocrisy –
STATE DEPT. SPOKESWOMAN MARIE HARF TO REPORTERS: “This is the quote from John Boehner (from 2007.) Let me just read a little bit for you: ‘This partisan show trial is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. By subpoenaing the Secretary of State, Democrats have revealed how beholden they are to left-wing activist groups while stealing the Secretary’s time away from critical diplomatic missions.’ It goes on. But Chairman Issa also opposed that subpoena for Secretary Rice (in 2007). So, what we would say is you don’t get to have different rules for different administrations.”
– Biden to Boehner: Stand up! –
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A CINCO DE MAYO BREAKFAST: “It's time for John - he's a good man, John Boehner - to stand up, and other Republicans, to just stand up. Not for us to stand, we're already stood up … It's time for him to stand up, stand up and not let the minority - I think it's a minority of the Republican Party in the House - keep us from moving to a vote to change the circumstances for millions and millions of lives.”
– State lawmaker likens Obamacare sign-ups to Nazi 'train rides' –
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Tennessee, on his blog:"Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of manditory (sic) sign ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s."
Gut Check Full Service: Tennessee state COP chairman Chris Devaney slams Campfield in a statement: “While Stacey Campfield routinely makes remarks that are over the top, today's comments are ignorant and repugnant … No political or policy disagreement should ever be compared to the suffering endured by an entire generation of people… Those comments have no place in our public discourse. He should offer an apology to members of the Jewish faith immediately."
– Shaheen up with first TV ad for 2014 Senate race –
FORMER VIETNAM WAR VETERAN NARRATING Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’S, D-New Hampshire, AD: “We've been promised a vets center in the Keene area for 30 years and got nothing. Then Jeanne Shaheen grabbed the bull by the horns and cut through the red tape and got things moving. Jeanne Shaheen got the Keene Veterans Clinic open … Jeanne Shaheen gets the job done for New Hampshire.”
– Boehner warns Obama: Don't repeat Iraq mistakes in Afghanistan –
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, IN A CNN OP-ED: “It's essential that we do not repeat the same mistakes in Afghanistan that we made in Iraq. Before the end of this year, the Obama administration must reach a bilateral security agreement with the Afghan government that reinforces our commitment to the Afghan people and its security forces … It is increasingly apparent that the United States left Iraq too soon, and it is with heavy hearts that we see the black flags flying in areas of Iraq where the United States expended our most precious treasure, the blood of our fellow citizens. We cannot let that happen in Afghanistan.”
– GOP Senate candidate fires off rounds in new ad –
NARRATOR IN IOWA SENATE CANDIDATE JONI ERNST’S NEW TV AD: “She's not your typical candidate … Mom. Farm girl. And a lieutenant colonel who carries more than just lipstick in her purse - (Ernst pulls out a handgun from her bag at a shooting range) - Joni Ernst will take aim at wasteful spending, and once she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni is going to unload. (Ernst fires six rounds, then checks her paper target.) Oh, and one more thing, Joni doesn't miss much.”
Gut Check Full Service: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, announced Monday through his Reclaim America PAC that he would be endorsing Ernst. He joins Sarah Palin in his endorsement.
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Rebecca Sinderbrand (@sinderbrand)
.@PressSec: "Happy Monday! I hope everyone's recovered from prom"
jennifer bendery (@jbendery)
Podesta: It's good to be back here. Reporter: Really? Podesta: Not really.
Zach Wolf (@zbyronwolf)
So odd that a top Obama adviser is giving a briefing on climate change, but can't take a Q on Keystone because he opposes it.
Charlie Kaye (@CharlieKayeCBS)
White House calls kidnapping of 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria an "outrage and a terrible tragedy," offering counterterrorism assistance.
Christina Manduley (@cmanduleyCNN)
Boko Haram's leader who kidnapped Nigerian girls: "I abducted your girls. I will sell them..There is a market for selling humans."
Evan Pérez (@evanperez)
Well this is a drag: GOP candidate was once a female impersonator http://m.journalnow.com/news/local/gop-candidate-was-once-a-female-impersonator/article_a1029862-5a82-5752-90e4-eac7155bce1e.html?mode=jqm#.U2a9PF58EC0.twitter … via @JournalNow
If you thought your hangover was bad, just imagine what Senate Democrats are feeling like. http://bit.ly/1niPVsS
Senate Democrats (@SenateDems)
Dear Senate Republicans, You are wrong on the minimum wage issue. Your former colleague, Rick Santorum http://www.dpcc.senate.gov/?p=blog&id=299
Herb Jackson (@record_dc)
Frmr Gov. Tom Kean Sr. will give #Rutgers commencement speech in place of Condi Rice, whose choice led to protest on campus
Reid Wilson (@PostReid)
Oregon State just lost the First Fan: Craig Robinson gets the axe - http://www.oregonlive.com/beavers/index.ssf/2014/05/craig_robinson_fired_as_oregon.html#incart_m-rpt-1 …
Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi)
On this day, let us emulate the bravery demonstrated in the Battle of Puebla & pass #immigration reform once & for all! ¡Feliz #CincoDeMayo!
Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN)
@GOP: "As we celebrate Cinco de Mayo at parades and other festive activities...we send everyone best wishes on this day."
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Former President Bill Clinton enjoys tequila and Tabasco as one of his favorite drinks. Hillary Clinton shares a similar palate. She told CBS in 2008 that she ate hot peppers during the 2008 presidential campaign to stay healthy, “I for some reason started doing that (eating hot peppers) in 1992, and I swear by it. I think it keeps my metabolism revved up and keeps me healthy.”
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