CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for May 19, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
U.S. CHARGES CHINA WITH CYBERSPYING … Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that members of the Chinese military have engaged in the hacking of American businesses and entities, including U.S. Steel Corp., Westinghouse, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies, the United Steel Workers Union and SolarWorld. The victims operate in Pennsylvania, and a grand jury there returned an indictment against members of the Chinese military, accusing them of hacking to spy and steal secrets, Holder said. – Ashley Fantz
CARNEY: “We have consistently and candidly raised these concerns with the Chinese government and today’s announcement reflects our growing concern that this Chinese behavior has continued.”
… IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL CYBERCRIME CRACKDOWN: The FBI and police in several countries have arrested more than 100 people and conducted hundreds of searches in recent days in a global crackdown on hackers linked to the malicious software called Blackshades, two law enforcement officials told CNN. The years-long investigation is targeting one of the most popular tools used by cybercriminals to hijack computers around the world. – Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz
FIVE KEY PRIMARIES TO WATCH ON TUESDAY … It's one of the busiest days in this year's primary calendar. Six states from coast to coast hold primaries on Tuesday, and again anti-establishment candidates face long odds in high-profile Republican showdowns. Here are five key showdowns to watch for.
1. Big showdown in the Bluegrass State: Tuesday's marquee battle is in Kentucky, where Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is challenged by businessman Matt Bevin, who enjoys strong support from many tea party groups and influential conservative anti-establishment organizations.
2. Idaho - the other big event: The other high-profile, outsider vs. establishment battle of the night is in the House. Eight-term Rep. Mike Simpson faces a serious primary challenge from Bryan Smith, an attorney who claims that Simpson's not conservative enough and is soft on spending.
3. Georgia - tea party splits vote: Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss's announcement last year that he wouldn't run for re-election triggered a free-for-all GOP primary battle.
4. Oregon - a last-minute wildcard?: The race for the GOP Senate nomination in Oregon, a vote-by-mail state, has only recently grabbed some national attention, mostly due to high-profile support for Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Monica Wehby.
5. Pennsylvania - a race to the left: Republicans can't have all the fun. The Democratic gubernatorial primary contest in the Keystone State has been one long wild ride. – Paul Steinhauser
ABRAMSON SPEAKS IN WAKE OF NYT FIRING… Jill Abramson, who was fired as executive editor of The New York Times last week, spoke for the first time about her abrupt dismissal during a commencement address at Wake Forest University Monday morning … She did not speak an ill word about the paper or its publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who forced her out after fewer than three years as executive editor. Playfully, Abramson addressed students in the crowd who'd been dumped or "not gotten the job you really wanted." "You know the sting of losing,” she said. “Or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of.” – Brian Stelter
THE BUZZ: TEEN THREATENS TO INVITE BOEHNER TO PROM IF BIDEN TURNS HER DOWN … When Talia Maselli envisioned her perfect prom date, one man immediately sprang to mind: Vice President Joe Biden. "Joe Biden makes me laugh," Maselli said. "He just cracks me up.” So she mailed Biden a handwritten note last fall asking him to escort her to the Newington High School prom … If Biden turned her down, Maselli warned that she might ask Speaker of the House John Boehner in his place.– Hartford Courant’s Christopher Hoffman
Joe Biden (@JoeBiden)
"I hope you will accept this corsage and enjoy your prom as much as I did mine." – The VP http://cour.at/TmiNab
Tracy Sefl (@lovethebay)
Your move @VeepHBO @OfficialJLD RT @NBCPolitics Teen Asks Biden to Prom, Gets Flowers from the VP http://nbcnews.to/1oIXmN7
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end higher, led by tech stocks. Nasdaq ends up 0.9%. Dow adds 21 points. S&P climbs 0.4%.
Who was the last Kentucky Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Police commissioner in N.H. town resigns over Obama slur
A small-town police commissioner in New Hampshire, who originally said he wouldn't apologize for calling President Barack Obama the n-word, resigned on Monday. Joseph Balboni, Police Commission chairman of Wolfeboro, confirmed to CNN that he received a resignation email from Robert Copeland.
Leading CNNMoney: AT&T/DirecTV may change how you watch TV
AT&T and DirecTV's $49 billion merger could have broad implications for your TV service, impacting how and where you watch your favorite programs - including the NFL. If regulators approve the deal, AT&T would lord over a nationwide wireless, landline telephone and satellite TV network as well as a large fiberoptic cable network. That would allow AT&T to control the flow of content to any of your screens practically anywhere. – David Goldman
Leading The Oregonian: Oregon gay marriage ban struck down; same-sex marriages to begin
Oregon's ban on same-sex marriages was struck down Monday by U.S. District Judge Michael McShane, who ruled that the prohibition violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians. Oregon becomes the seventh state where a federal judge has struck down a gay marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court last year invalidated key sections of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Unlike in the other states - Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas - there was no one with the immediate standing to appeal the decision. – Jeff Mapnes
Leading Drudge: GOP Takes On Michelle Obama’s Lunch Rules
House Republicans are proposing to let some schools opt out of healthier school lunch and breakfast programs if they are losing money. A GOP spending bill for agriculture and food programs released Monday would allow schools to apply for waivers if they have a net loss on school food programs for a six month period. – AP’s Mary Clarie Jalonick
Leading HuffPo: Government Awards Full Benefits To Wife Of Female Soldier Killed In Afghanistan
Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tracy Dice Johnson, whose wife was killed fighting in Afghanistan, has received word from the Department of Veterans Affairs that she will receive the same survivor benefits that heterosexual married couples are entitled to. Johnson's wife, 29-year-old Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson, was killed Oct. 1, 2012, by a suicide bomber. They are believed to be the first same-sex couple to suffer a casualty after the 2011 repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," the federal law that barred openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military. – Amanda Terkel
Leading Politico: POLITICO poll shows mounting danger for Dems
President Barack Obama’s job approval slump and voters’ entrenched wariness of his health care law are dogging Democrats ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, and Republicans have captured a lead in the areas home to the year’s most competitive races, according to a new POLITICO poll. In the congressional districts and states where the 2014 elections will actually be decided, likely voters said they would prefer to vote for a Republican over a Democrat by 7 points, 41 percent to 34 percent. A quarter of voters said they were unsure of their preference. – Alexander Burns
Leading New York Times: Glass Ceilings in Statehouses in the Northeast
The industrial Northeast enjoys a reputation as a cradle of liberalism, a region that voted overwhelmingly for America’s first black president, started the push on same-sex marriage rights and can reliably be found at the forefront of causes for equality. But there is a notable gap: The Democratic Party has yet to elect a female governor in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island or Massachusetts. – Jonathan Martin
The political bites of the day
– Carney: Obama first learned about VA allegations from CNN –
WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN JAY CARNEY TO CNN'S JIM ACOSTA ON HOW PRESIDENT OBAMA LEARNED ABOUT FRAUDULENT WAIT TIME LISTS AT A VA FACILITY: "If you mean the specific allegations that I think were first reported by your network out of Phoenix, I believe, we learned about them through the reports.”
– Margolies on Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary: ‘It looks good’ –
PA-13 DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CANDIDATE (AND CHELSEA CLINTON MOTHER-IN-LAW) MARJORIE MARGOLIES ON MSNBC: We “knew when we came in, because of name recognition, we were ahead. And we knew at the end the darts were coming at me - and they had been - but right now, it looks good.”
Gut Check Full Service: Bill Clinton does robocall for Margolies
“Twenty years ago, Marjorie cast the deciding vote on my economic plan. It reversed trickle-down economics and set our country on the longest peacetime expansion in history—one that all Americans participated in. That’s what we’ve got to do again. We’ve got to get our country back in the future business. This is an important election. And I know if you’ll send Marjorie to Congress, she’ll make you proud. So please, on Tuesday go to the polls and vote for Marjorie Margolies for Congress.”
See more: CNN’s Gloria Borger reports on Margolies’ campaign: Being on the comeback trail with the Clintons
– Franken skeptical about AT&T/DirecTV merger –
SEN. AL FRANKEN, D-MINNESOTA, ON CNN’S "NEW DAY": “I’m skeptical. I’d like to see some hearings on this. I think Christine (Romans) is exactly right that this usually leads to high fees for consumers and less choices. … We need to keep as much competition (as possible) in this space. This is going exactly in the wrong direction.”
– Rubio: No 'responsible way' to smoke pot –
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLORIDA, IN AN interview aired Monday BY ABC-Yahoo News: “Here is the problem with that question in American politics … If you say that you (smoked pot), suddenly there are people out there saying it is not a big deal. Look at all these successful people who did it. And I don't want my kids to smoke marijuana. And I don't want other people's kids to smoke marijuana. I don't think there is a responsible way to recreationally use marijuana. On the other side of it, if you tell people that you didn't, they won't believe you. So it is just a worthless question … I understand it is a question today that people think they need to ask, but the bottom line is, I don't think people should smoke marijuana."
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
john r stanton (@dcbigjohn)
What can red state dems learn from Mary Landrieu, Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham? Own your record, don't run from it http://www.buzzfeed.com/johnstanton/mary-landrieus-doing-something-weird-running-on-her-record…
Mary Landrieu (@MaryLandrieu)
I’m a centrist, and I’m not going to run awayfrom it –> READ: http://bzfd.it/1qPorAc #LASen #LAPolitics
Angela Delli Santi (@AngeDelliSanti)
Traffic cones outside @GovChristie's office. Perhaps a Correspondents' Club spoof in the making? pic.twitter.com/vLMttODlwT
Alex Pappas (@AlexPappas)
Super PAC Mail Piece In Mississippi Plays The Todd Akin Card On McDaniel http://bit.ly/1mNVfW2
Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh)
"Pryor has the brand, Cotton's got therecord," http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/in-arkansas-obama-is-a-four-letter-word-hampering-democrats-20140518…
Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker)
Iowans describe Hillary: Seasoned, capable, smart, strong, competent, iIntelligent, experienced, decisive, tested. http://washingtonpost.com/politics/iowa- …
Brian Stelter (@brianstelter)
.@AlHuntDC introing Abramson: "She took over a great institution and leaves it this past week better, stronger, more vibrant than ever."
Arti Patel (@artipatel13)
"One thing to gossip about your boss…but quite another to watch her head get chopped off.”—Carr on #Abramson http://nyti.ms/1nXwuIW #nytimes
John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain)
I obviously had a great time at the @Dbacksgame this weekend! http://wapc.mlb.com/cutfour/2014/05/18/75877186/no-one-was-more-excited-about-this-paul-goldschmidt-home-run-than-senator-john-McCain … #BeatLA
Breathing easy: California Chrome cleared to wear nasal strip for Belmont in Triple Crown bid http://bit.ly/1lFIpGE
al tompkins (@atompkins)
The whole horse nasal strip debate is quite funny -horses have used these for years-they cost about 10 bucks http://valleyvet.com/ct_detail.html…
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Sen. Wendell Ford’s re-election in 1992 was the last time a Democrat was elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky. Since 1992, three Republican senators have represented Kentucky. Sen. Jim Bunning was elected in 1998 and served until 2011. GOP Sen. Rand Paul won the 2010 election to replace Bunning. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has held his Senate seat since 1985.
McConnell is the longest-serving senator from Kentucky, having represented the Bluegrass State in the Senate for 29 years. Ford is the second longest-serving Kentucky senator, having served for a total of 25 years.
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Congrats to Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877), michael short (@ridgewilliam), CAPC (@capcumd), David M (@xeReccE) and (@RageCageRunner) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.
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