CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for May 16, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
VA OFFICIAL RESIGNS IN WAKE OF SCANDAL OVER WAIT TIMES, CARE … A top official at the Department of Veterans Affairs has resigned amid the growing scandal about wait times and care at veterans’ hospitals, the department’s leader said Friday. News about the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health in the Department of Veterans Affairs, came one day after he spoke at a Senate hearing about the issue alongside Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. Petzel was scheduled to retire sometime this year, the department said in 2013.
HOUSE VETERANS' AFFAIRS CHAIRMAN JEFF MILLER: “Today’s announcement from VA regarding Undersecretary for Health Robert Petzel’s ‘resignation’ is the pinnacle of disingenuous political doublespeak.”
BRING IT: KING TELLS HILLARY ‘GET READY’ FOR 2016 …Rep. Peter King said Friday he warned Hillary Clinton that she should prepare for a potential presidential showdown. The longtime congressman from New York is still considering a White House bid and has traveled to New Hampshire, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary, to try and make inroads with voters. “I’m certainly looking at it. I’ll be back in New Hampshire on June 21st, and when I saw Hillary Clinton yesterday I told her to get ready,” the Republican said with a smile on CNN’s “Wolf.”
On a more serious note, King added the real reason he’s thinking about running is to combat what he sees as a rising isolationist wing in the party. “I see people like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, and to me, I don’t want the Republican Party going in that direction,” he said. “Whether it’s me or someone else, I want to do all that I can to make sure that what I call the ‘realistic foreign policy wing’ and ‘national security wing’ of the Republican Party does not give in to the isolationists.”
Gut Check Flash Back:King in an interview with AM970 radio May 2nd: “Quite frankly, other than Jeb Bush I don’t really see anybody else in the Republican Party that I should be that worried about.”
Gut Check Full Service: Anti-establishment conservatives seek to regain control of Republican agenda (See Leading Washington Post below)
GM TO PAY $35 MILLION OVER DELAYED RECALL … General Motors agreed to pay a $35 million fine to settle a federal probe into the 10-year delay of its ignition switch recall, federal safety regulators announced Friday. GM had already admitted that its employees knew of problems with the ignition switch as early as 2004. The flaw caused some cars to shut off while driving, disabling airbags, anti-lock brakes and power steering. It has been tied to at least 13 deaths. But GM did not start recalling the 2.6 million cars with the ignition problems until this February. – Chris Isadore and Rene Marsh
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY ANTHONY FOXX: “What we cannot tolerate, what we will never accept is a person or company that knows danger exists and says nothing… Literally, silence can kill.”
STRANGE TIMES: REPUBLICANS BLOCK TAX CREDITS – AS A PROTEST … It is a rare, strange day when Senate Republicans vote to block billions in tax cuts. But that’s what happened Thursday when they chose to freeze a massive tax credit package in order to protest how Democrats are running the chamber. By a vote of 53-40, the EXPIRE Act, which would extend $85 billion in tax credits, failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. – Lisa Desjardins
NO JOKE: PENTAGON DOCUMENT LAYS OUT BATTLE PLAN AGAINST ZOMBIES … In an unclassified document titled “CONOP 8888,” officials from U.S. Strategic Command used the specter of a planet-wide attack by the walking dead as a training template for how to plan for real-life, large-scale operations, emergencies and catastrophes … A wide variety of different zombies, each brandishing their own lethal threats, are possible to confront and should be planned for, according to the document. – Jamie Crawford
THE BUZZ: BARBARA WALTERS RETIRES, SIGNS OFF FROM ‘THE VIEW’ … After more than 50 years in television, interviewing the biggest names in the world, Barbara Walters is stepping down. “I knew it was time,” Walters told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.” “I like all the celebration, that’s great, but in my heart, I thought, ‘I want to walk away while I’m still doing good work.’ So I will.” – Brian Stelter
At Barbara Walters’ final taping of ABC’s “The View,” Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and prohibitive favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, was a surprise guest. During her sit-down with Clinton, Walters asked Clinton whether she is running for president. Continuing a tradition of joking about the 2016 election, Clinton said, “I am running - around the park.”
MARKETWATCH: U.S. stocks rebound Friday. Dow and S&P 500 hit records before pulling back sharply during a volatile week.
President Obama and Vice President Biden dined at Shake Shack in Washington D.C. today. Although POTUS says the establishment has “great burgers,” the burger joint does not sell his favorite food. What is it?
Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller)
Joe Biden’s food order totaled at least 1640 calories. http://www.shakeshack.com/location/dupont-circle/ …
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Inside Politics: Clinton war of words – ‘It’s just the beginning’
Who needs the Kardashians – or has time for them, anyway – when “Keeping up with the Clintons” is so entertaining? Not to mention exhausting. Karl Rove raises the idea that Hillary Clinton suffered a traumatic brain injury, and the debate rages: A. A low blow reckless gossip nugget? B. A legitimate point about her health and her transparency? C. Proof Republicans are so afraid of her they are getting hyper-tough now, hoping she chooses the calm of civilian life? D. All of the above? – John King
Gut Check DVR: Watch Inside Politics at 8:30am ET Sunday with CNN’s John King and guests Molly Ball, Robert Costa, Julie Pace, and Manu Raju. And catch State of the Union at 9:00am ET Sunday with CNN’s Candy Crowley and guests Gov. Deval Patrick, Newt Gingrich, Amy Walter and Anita Dunn.
Leading Washington Post: Conservatives seek to regain control of Republican agenda
Although many Republicans are optimistic about their chances in this year’s elections, some of Washington’s leading conservatives gathered Thursday to privately vent frustrations about what kind of party they will be left with after November. The group, alarmed by a resurgence of the GOP establishment in recent primaries and what activists view as a softened message, drafted demands to be shared with senior lawmakers calling on the party to “recommit” to bedrock principles. As conservative leaders mingled Thursday over coffee and deli sandwiches, they sounded exasperated about the way the party appears to be siding more with its cautious leadership, rather than making an aggressive conservative pitch. – Robert Costa
Leading Drudge: Obama Eyes Exec Action To Stop Deportations
President Barack Obama’s review of the nation’s deportation policies may result in changes to a contentious program that hands over people booked for local crimes to federal immigration authorities. But such steps are unlikely to satisfy advocates demanding dramatic action to help millions of people living here illegally. – AP’s Erica Wener
Leading HuffPo: Dialing It Back: DEA Chief Reins In Drug War Bluster
Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart and her boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, appear locked in a bureaucratic staring match over the Obama administration’s attempt to reform the way the federal government approaches criminal justice and punishment. – Ryan J. Reilly and Ryan Grimm
Leading Politico: GOP war revived in Georgia
The once-peaceful Georgia GOP Senate primary has devolved into an all-out brawl in its final days, ripe with charges of sexism, arrogance, lying, distortion and even “promoting teenage homosexuality” — and that’s just a taste of the venom. Three candidates — businessman David Perdue, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and Rep. Jack Kingston — have emerged as the leading contenders ahead of Tuesday’s low-turnout primary, scrapping for every vote to make it into what promises to be an even nastier two-person runoff lasting nine weeks.- Manu Raju
Leading New York Times: Ivy League Degree, Elite Consulting Job, and Now Tea Party Candidacy
Ben Sasse and Tom Cotton have a lot in common: Republican candidacies for the Senate, Ivy League advanced degrees — a Yale Ph.D. for Mr. Sasse, a Harvard law degree for Mr. Cotton — and a tour of duty in the white-shoe world of management consulting. One more thing: They are running as common-man conservatives from the heartland under the banner of the Tea Party. – Jonathan Weisman
The political bites of the day
- Dem. leaders back Conyers write-in re-election campaign –
DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR MO ELLEITHEE IN A STATEMENT: “The president fully supports Congressman Conyers’ reelection, and looks forward to working with him in the next Congress.”
DNC CHAIR WASSERMAN SCHULTZ IN A STATEMENT: “I fully support Representative Conyers’ reelection effort. The people of Michigan have greatly benefitted from his decades of public service, and I’m confident they will choose him to represent their interests in Congress once again as they have done for nearly fifty years.”
CHAIR OF THE MICHIGAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAUCUS LAVONIA PERRYMAN ON HER FACEBOOK PAGE: “The Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus (MDPBC) is fully behind Congressman John Conyers our favorite son, and Metro Detroit’s voice of reason. We urge everyone to vote as if your life depended on it.”
- Shaheen says Sen. Reid should have allowed amendments to an energy bill she sponsored with Sen. Rob Portman -
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, to The Hill:“I think it’s very disappointing …I think we should vote on amendments. I think that’s part of why we’re here … I think we should allow amendments.”
- Jarrett Thursday: Boehner committed to immigration reform -
White House aide Valerie Jarrett at an event Thursday as quoted by the Las Vegas Review Journal: “I think we have a window this summer, between now and August, to get something done … We have a commitment from Speaker Boehner, who’s very frustrated with his caucus.”
- Jarrett Friday: Immigration remarks ‘lost in translation’ -
Jarrett on her twitter account: “I said Boehner has made (a) commitment to trying, not that he has made (a) commitment to us or (a) time frame.”
- SEC: Just say no to pot stocks -
Lori Schock, the official in charge of investor education at the SEC:“We know from experience that fraudsters follow the headlines … Given the attention that marijuana-related companies have attracted recently, we urge investors to exercise caution when looking at investments in this space.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Michelle Kosinski (@MKosinskiCNN)
White House says it won’t “pass judgment” on Sec. Shinseki’s leadership of the VA... Still expresses “confidence” in him and his successes.
The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast)
The First Family were worth as much as $7 million in 2013 http://thebea.st/1gazYVQ
Emily Schultheis (@emilyrs)
.@NBCFirstRead calls next week “the closest thing to a ‘Super Tuesday’ that we’ll see before Election Day 2014”
Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman)
Jill Abramson Wake Forest Commencement Address Airs Monday 5/19/14 at 1:00 p.m. ET and 8:30pm ET on C-SPAN2 cc: @davidfolkenflik
Christina Manduley (@cmanduleyCNN)
A police commissioner says he won’t apologize for calling President Barack Obama the n-word. http://cnn.it/1qI85Jq
Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP)
Who had the worst week in Washington? DCCC Chairman Steve Israel. wapo.st/RZmEZz
Andrew Bair (@ProLifePolitics)
#ProLife Congresswoman @HerreraBeutler opens up about the miracle of life with People Magazine. http://onpolitics.usatoday.com/2014/05/15/jaime-herrera-beutler-baby-potter-syndrome/?utm_content=buffer152c1&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer…
Courage in Journalism award goes to @arwaCNN: http://bit.ly/1j2AfJW “She believes in being there”
Vincent C. Gray (@mayorvincegray)
60 years ago 2mrw , SCOTUS handed down Brown v. Board. 2day, we still have work to do on educational equity: http://ow.ly/wW2FS
Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps)
“No matter what she does, she will always be the most fascinating to me,” Barbara Walters says of Hillary Clinton
The First Lady (@FLOTUS)
Congrats to @BarbaraJWalters on a truly groundbreaking and inspiring career from the whole Obama family! -mo pic.twitter.com/pUG66hqpID
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
President Obama may like to splurge every once in a while on a burger, but he admits that when prepared right, he loves vegetables. In response to a child’s question at a White House Kids’ State Dinner in July 2013, President Obama admitted that his favorite food was broccoli.
Echoing his wife’s “Let’s Move” healthy eating and exercise campaign the President said that believes that food that tastes good can be healthy too. “I’ll admit that there are some things that are good for you that don’t taste very good but that’s usually just because aren’t prepared right.”
Gut Check #FlashBackFriday #1:
President George H.W. Bush 1990: “I do not like broccoli … I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!’
Gut Check #FlashBackFriday #2:
Toby from the West Wing: “The Milwaukee Journal is quoting an unnamed White House source as saying the President doesn’t like green beans.”
C.J. “Turns out, it’s a bit of a deal … They’re a huge producer, Toby. Green beans, or snap beans, represent a significant percentage of Oregon’s annual revenue.”
Toby: “Let’s do a photo-op with the President... eating green beans. We can drop in a quote. He’s always looking for new green bean... recipes.”
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congrats to David Daniel (@CNNLADavid) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.
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