CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for May 27, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
OBAMA: COMBAT IN AFGHANISTAN TO END IN 2014 … President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he wants more than 9,800 U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, with the number cut roughly in half by the end of 2015. By the end of 2016, he said, the military "will draw down to a normal embassy presence in Kabul, with a security assistance component."
Obama said this is a "pivotal year" in Afghanistan, noting that 2014 will mark the conclusion of the U.S. combat mission there. "We will bring America's longest war to a responsible end," he said. – Tom Cohen
BUT SERVICE MEMBERS WILL STILL REMAIN … A senior administration official told CNN’s Jake Tapper that after 2016, the number of U.S. service members in Afghanistan providing embassy security and engaging in cooperative security efforts with the host government and military would likely number about 1,000.
SOME LAWMAKERS ARE SKEPTICAL …
HOUSE ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN BUCK MCKEON: : “Holding this mission to an arbitrary egg-timer doesn’t make a lick of sense strategically ...We leave when the Afghans can manage that threat, rather than on convenient political deadlines that favor poll numbers over our security."
SENS. MCCAIN, GRAHAM AND AYOTTE: “The President’s decision to set an arbitrary date for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is a monumental mistake and a triumph of politics over strategy.”
CLINTON TOUTS 'INDISPENSABLE' AMERICA IN MEMOIR EXCERPTS … Hillary Clinton reflects on her long life in politics and her "unexpected" partnership with President Barack Obama in excerpts released Tuesday of her upcoming memoir. In Clinton's "Hard Choices" – which is due out on June 10 – the former secretary of State writes that when making decisions during her life she "listened to both my heart and my head."
Clinton adds, “Everything that I have done and seen has convinced me that America remains the 'indispensable nation.'” – Dan Merica
See more excerpts in HOT SOTS below.
Gut Check Flash Back: Karl Rove 24 hours earlier: Hillary Clinton is 'old and stale'
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Philippe Reines quoted by Ken Auletta in the New Yorker on Hillary Clinton’s rocky relationship with the media: “Why, because she only spent ninety seconds with them (campaign reporters) when she brought them bagels to the back of the bus? And if she spent nine minutes the coverage would have been fair? That’s apparently the takeaway: because she didn’t spend enough time with them and their bagels, they couldn’t be fair.”
COULD THE TEA PARTY TAKE TEXAS? …They've been few and far between this primary season, but the tea party could rack up high-profile victories on Tuesday in runoff elections in Texas. And one of them could bring an end to the career of the oldest member of Congress. The grassroots conservative moment scored one of its biggest wins in the last election cycle in Texas, when the candidate it was backing in the Senate GOP runoff, Ted Cruz, defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Thanks in part to support from Cruz, the tea party remains alive and well in the Lone Star State, and two years later, Dewhurst once again faces defeat at the ballot box. – Paul Steinhauser
FLOTUS PICKS A FOOD FIGHT WITH CONGRESS … First lady Michelle Obama argued Tuesday that it's "unacceptable" for House Republicans to consider making major changes to the 2010 child nutrition law – a hallmark of her "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity … Her comments represented a rare moment for the first lady, who stays far away from public disputes with Congress. – Ashley Killough
THE BUZZ: BUSH GETS PARTIAL KNEE REPLACEMENT … Former President George W. Bush is back at home in Dallas, following partial knee replacement surgery Saturday in Chicago. Bush spokesman Freddy Ford told CNN that the former president "had a successful partial knee replacement Saturday and came back to Dallas Monday." Ford added that it was not a new injury and that Bush was "up walking around and even went up and down a flight of stairs just a couple hours after the procedure." – Kevin Bohn and Paul Steinhauser
MARKET WATCH:S&P 500 ends at record high for second straight session. Dow gains 70 points while NASDAQ rises more than 1%.
Which is the only U.S. state with a law outlining provisions for residents to vote from space?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: GOP candidate with both grassroots and establishment backing
Joni Ernst doesn't have to take sides in the battle between the Republican establishment and the tea party movement. It seems she's got the backing of both sides. – Paul Steinhauser
Leading CNNMoney: Feds say it's time to regulate Big Data
For years, data brokers have been collecting and selling billions of pieces of your personal information - from your income to your shopping habits to your medical ailments. Now federal regulators say it's time you have more control over what's collected and whether it will be used at all. The Federal Trade Commission recommended the creation of a website that would provide us with the information we need to find out what data is being collected about us, where it came from and how to opt out entirely. – Melanie Hicken
Leading Drudge: $10 Million Payday
They're the $10 million men and women. Propelled by a soaring stock market, the median pay package for a CEO rose above eight figures for the first time last year. The head of a typical large public company earned a record $10.5 million, an increase of 8.8 percent from $9.6 million in 2012, according to an Associated Press/Equilar pay study. – AP’s Ken Sweet
Leading HuffPo: The GOP Gamble: Republicans Seek Edge With Benghazi, IRS Drama
Republican strategy for the fall elections seemed set: hammer Democrats on the health care law and "jobs, jobs, jobs." As Democrats show increasing confidence on those fronts, however, House Republicans are gambling that ramping up new inquiries into old controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service and Libya will energize conservative voters without turning off moderates. – AP’s Charles Babington
Leading Politico: GOP pols want 2014 'Contract with America'
A faction of Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham is agitating for party leaders to unveil a policy manifesto in the midterm elections, detailing for voters what the GOP would attempt with a Senate majority its members are increasingly confident they’ll achieve. Advocates of the strategy, which has triggered a closed-door debate in recent weeks among the party’s current 45 senators, say it would serve as a firm rejoinder to Democrats casting the GOP as the “party of no.” They say voters should know what they’d be getting by pulling the lever for Republicans in November. – Manu Raju
Leading New York Times: Obama Crowd Blanches as Ex-Aide Helps British Conservatives
David Axelrod is not the only top Obama operative at work here (London). A week earlier, Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s lanky 2012 campaign manager, met at Downing Street with his client, Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party, who argues that years of austerity have corrected the profligate years of Labour rule and that tough immigration laws are protecting British values and jobs. – Jason Horowitz
The political bites of the day
– Excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices” released Tuesday –
CLINTON ON MAKING HARD LIFE CHOICES: “All of us face hard choices in our lives. Some face more than their share. We have to decide how to balance the demands of work and family. Caring for a sick child or an aging parent. Figuring out how to pay for college. Finding a good job, and what to do if you lose it. Whether to get married—or stay married. How to give our kids the opportunities they dream about and deserve. Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become. For leaders and nations, they can mean the difference between war and peace, poverty and prosperity.”
CLINTON ON HER STATE DEPARTMENT YEARS: “These years were also a personal journey for me, both literally (I ended up visiting 112 countries and traveling nearly one million miles) and figuratively, from the painful end of the 2008 campaign to an unexpected partnership and friendship with my former rival Barack Obama. I’ve served our country in one way or another for decades. Yet during my years as Secretary of State, I learned even more about our exceptional strengths and what it will take for us to compete and thrive at home and abroad.”
– Biden:U.S. government subcontractor should be freed in Cuba –
VICEPRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CUBAN BLOGGER YOANI SáNCHEZ: “I want to emphasize that the detention of Alan Gross in Cuba is important to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba obstacle. We can be as creative as you want with our policy, but if Alan is at the top of the list of issues to be resolved. He should be released on humanitarian grounds.”
– Brown touts conservative endorsements –
SCOTT BROWN FOR SENATE IN AN EMAIL TO SUPPORTERS: "’I'm honored to have earned the support of these respected New Hampshire leaders,’ said Brown … The endorsements of Senator Ayotte, Governor Merrill, and Governor Benson are just the latest example of Republican leaders across New Hampshire coalescing behind Scott Brown's candidacy.”
AYOTTE IN AN EMAIL TO SUPPORTERS: "Scott Brown has what it takes to win this election and represent New Hampshire values in Washington … He is the right guy for the job, and I would be proud to have him as my teammate in the United States Senate to keep fighting for New Hampshire families."
– N.H. Dems mock Scott Brown endorsements –
NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN A STATEMENT: “It’s no surprise that Republicans are endorsing Republicans. But it is fitting that Brown was endorsed by a disgraced former Governor like the defeated Craig Benson, another Republican who voters threw out of office after just two years. Republican primary politics don’t change the fact that Senator Jeanne Shaheen is the best choice with a record of making a difference for New Hampshire.”
Gut Check Full Service: If Brown wins he will be the first person to represent two states as a senator in over a century.
– The science that mesmerizes Obama -
PEYTON ROBERTSON, 12-YEAR-OLD STUDENT AT THE WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE FAIR: “As you see here, this is what a polymer looks like when it is all curled up. But then when you add water it straightens out with hydrogen bonding and it expands like this. So you want to try? OBAMA: “Yeah, I do. I actually have one of these.” ROBERTSON: “Oh you do?” OBAMA: “They are very cool. I love them. Sometimes I just stare at them in space. Sometimes in the Oval office I just look at one of these.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
James Hohmann (@jameshohmann)
POTUS' lunch with foreign policy columnists coincides w/ Afghanistan announcement & big West Point speech tomorrow. http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/obama-afghanistan-troops-stay-9800-stay-2014-west-point-107115.html …
Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis)
Four words not in Afghanistan statement by the President: "Conditions on the Ground"
Charlie Mahtesian (@charlieNPR)
The current Congress has more members aged 70 years or older than almost any of the past 60 years http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/05/27/rep-ralph-hall-fight-for-seat-in-aging-congress/ …
Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram)
Earlier this year in TX primary, Rep Ralph Hall got 45% of vote vs John Ratcliffe with 29%. But no one got 50.1% to avoid runoff.
Amanda Terkel (@aterkel)
Texas Dems voting today whether to nominate a woman who compares Obama to Hitler for U.S. Senate http://huff.to/1nrVRTW
The Starboard Group (@TeamStarboard)
Always great to have our former client @MittRomney in Colorado! http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/2014/05/27/mitt-romney-endorses-u-s-rep-mike-coffman-will-raise-money-tuesday-denver/109297/ …
Mark Knoller (@markknoller)
VP Biden heading to Colorado later today to do a fundraiser for the re-election campaign of Sen. Mark Udall. No press coverage.
Norah O'Donnell (@NorahODonnell)
White House science fair places special emphasis on girls, women who excel in STEM -The "Lego Queens" @CBSThisMorning http://cbsn.ws/1nQjRfo
Greta Van Susteren (@gretawire)
@realDonaldTrump "I am no Bush fan..he got us into Iraq.."
Lauren Fox (@FoxReports)
Don't watch this Club for Growth ad while eating sad desk lunch http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/club-for-growth-mark-pryor-bird-poop?utm_content=buffer7cbde&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer…
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
A 1997 Texas state law signed by then-Gov. George W. Bush provides election guidelines for astronauts to electronically submit a ballot from space. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas is the only U.S. state that has passed such a law. Through Chapter 106 of its election code, voters in space can be sent ballots using NASA’s electronic transmission program.
The first person to cast a celestial ballot was Houston astronaut David Wolf in 1997. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the provision has been used a handful of other times.
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