CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for May 29, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
MORE DEMOCRATS CALL FOR SHINSEKI TO RESIGN ...The Democratic dam has burst. It started Wednesday afternoon when Mark Udall became the first Democrat in the Senate to call for embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Udall was soon joined by other members of the chamber, including John Walsh of Montana, an appointee, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Al Franken of Minnesota, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Warner of Virginia and Tim Kaine of Virginia.
What all of them, except Heinrich and Kaine, have in common is that they're running this November for six more years in Washington, and other than Franken, Tom Udall and Warner, they all face challenging contests in an already difficult midterm climate for Democrats. Joining them were a handful of House Democrats, including Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa. He's the party's hope for keeping the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Harkin in Democratic hands. – Paul Steinhauser
DCCC CHAIR STEVE ISRAEL AGREES ... The head of House Democrat’s campaign arm echoed the growing chorus of Democrats urging Shinseki to step aside in an interview on The Lead with Jake Tapper. “He should resign in my view,” the New York Democrat said. “But there are too many of my colleagues saying that [the] resignation is going to solve the problem. It’s not going to solve the problem. What is going to solve the problem is a criminal investigation with or without his resignation.”
BOEHNER ARGUES THE PRESIDENT IS ACCOUNTABLE: “I am going to continue to reserve judgment on General Shinseki,” House Speaker John Boehner said at a news conference Thursday. “The real issue here is the president is the one who should be held accountable ... For the president to say he didn’t know anything about it is rather shocking.”
MEANWHILE, SHINSEKI TRIES TO ‘SET THINGS STRAIGHT’ ... In an opinion piece published Thursday in USA Today, Shinseki wrote that he found the report "reprehensible" and that he's "not waiting to set things straight." "I immediately directed the Veterans Health Administration ... to contact each of the 1,700 veterans in Phoenix waiting for primary care appointments in order to bring them the care they need and deserve," Shinseki wrote.
... WHILE HOUSE VA CHAIRMAN SAYS HE PLANS TO SUE SHINSEKI’S DEPARTMENT ... House VA Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Florida, said he is planning to sue the VA to force the department to comply with his committee's subpoena. Miller told reporters after a press conference with veterans that he's preparing paperwork to file lawsuit in federal court to compel the VA to produce materials his committee has subpoenaed. He is talking to ranking Democrat Mike Michaud, D-Maine, about signing onto the court filing, but he said he'll proceed with it either way. – Deirdre Walsh
AT THE WHITE HOUSE, OBAMA RECALLS HIS OWN INJURIES PLAYING FOOTBALL ... Saying he wants to change a culture in youth sports where kids are encouraged to “suck it up” after sustaining head injuries, President Barack Obama on Thursday said it was time coaches and athletes started thinking about better ways to keep kids safe on playing fields. Obama said he could recall instances during his own days in Pop Warner leagues when a particularly hard hit left him sidelined for a spell. – Kevin Liptak and Nadia Kounang
THE BUZZ: WHILE THE FIRST LADY DOES A 'SIDELINE' INTERVIEW WITH SEAHAWKS' RICHARD SHERMAN ... Richard Sherman lent a hand to Michelle Obama's hallmark "Let's Move" campaign, spoofing his widely aired NFL postgame rant – this time, in the kitchen. As a part of the first lady's efforts to combat childhood obesity, the Seattle Seahawks star appeared in a video released by the White House on Thursday promoting healthy eating.
Gut Check Full Service: At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner earlier this month, Sherman told CNN that he is interested in running for office one day, but not for a long time.
MARKET WATCH: S&P 500 ends at record for third time in four sessions. Dow gains 65 points as investors bet economy is recovering.
What does Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, consider to be the “first serious political experience” of his life?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Republicans, Democrats not pleased with immigration policy delay
Members of both parties on Thursday questioned the Obama administration's decision to delay a review of its immigration policies in the hope of helping to propel a reform package. "We can only expect DHS's efforts to evade its immigration law enforcement responsibilities to escalate. President Obama asked Secretary Johnson to perform an inventory of the department's enforcement practices to see how it can conduct them more humanely. These are simply code words for further ratcheting down enforcement of our immigration laws," Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, said at the opening of a Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.- Kevin Bohn
Leading CNNMoney: Ford recalls 1.1 million SUVs
Ford announced Thursday it is recalling at least 1.1 million popular SUVs that may have steering issues. The recall involves about 915,000 2008-2011 Ford Escapes and Mercury Mariners, and about 196,000 2011-2013 Ford Explorers. – Gregory Wallace
Leading Drudge: Enough Potatoes!
Right now, the House of Representatives is considering a bill to override science by mandating that white potatoes be included on the list of foods that women can purchase using WIC dollars. Now, there is nothing wrong with potatoes. The problem is that many women and children already consume enough potatoes and not enough of the nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables they need. That’s why the Institute of Medicine — the nonpartisan, scientific body that advises on the standards for WIC — has said that potatoes should not be part of the WIC program. – Michelle Obama in a New York Times Op-Ed
Leading HuffPo: Attacked From All Sides
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) faced two competing attacks on Wednesday near his home district in Richmond. The first: That he's a liberal on immigration posing as a hardliner just to get primary election votes. The second: That he's one of the biggest impediments to immigration reform in the House. – Elise Foley
Leading Politico: Thad Cochran’s fight: Up close and all too personal
Hounded by national conservative groups seeking his defeat and grappling with an outlandish breach of personal and legal boundaries, Cochran is greeting voters with a soft smile and nary a mention of his hard-right opponent for the GOP nomination. A Washington institution portrayed as out of touch by his party’s right flank, Cochran has quickly become a sentimental favorite for many Mississippians thanks to his opponents’ overreach. – Alexander Burns
Leading New York Times: From 2 Lawmakers, a Modest Proposal: To Pass Spending Bills on Time
It has been almost two decades since the House and Senate in 1996 beat the Oct. 1 deadline for approving all of the bills before the start of the new fiscal year. In recent years, the Senate has rarely considered individual appropriations bills at all, and the entire process has been reduced to an ugly combination of missed deadlines, spending standoffs, stopgaps, omnibuses, minibuses, continuing funding resolutions and even a government shutdown. – Carl Hulse
The political bites of the day
– Senate Armed Services Chairman says Obama makes “strong case” in Afghanistan plan –
SEN. CARL LEVIN, D-MICHIGAN, IN A STATEMENT: “This week the president has made a strong case that the conditions are right for us to complete our combat mission in Afghanistan and maintain a strong strategic partnership with the Afghan people in the years ahead ... Our troops, working alongside the Afghans and our international partners, have accomplished a great deal, and they and the American people deserve to feel a sense of accomplishment. Their sacrifices have made a major contribution to our national security, and to the security and future of the Afghan people.”
– American Legion echoes Israel’s call for an criminal investigation –
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE AMERICAN LEGION PETER GAYTON TO CNN’S WOLF BLITZER: “The results of this latest IG report were beyond anyone’s expectations ... The American Legion is calling for criminal investigations in Phoenix at the Phoenix VA medical center because of the accusations in this document are criminal.”
– Bloomberg rips liberal colleges for “silencing” conservative views –
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG IN A COMMENCEMENT SPEECH AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY: “Monopoly has neither truth nor God on its side ... When 96% of Ivy’s voting for one candidate over another, you really have to wonder if students are being exposed to both sides ... Universities can’t be great if faculty is politically homogeneous ... A liberal arts education shouldn’t be an education on liberalism”
–91-year-old defeated incumbent on opponent: ‘I figured it out – damn guy got more votes than I did!’ –
REP. RALPH HALL, R-TEXAS, TO REPORTERS ON JOHN RATCLIFFE: "I went to the employment office this morning and they didn't offer me anything, but I got a job here until December 31st ... At 91-years-old a contract for six months – you can't beat it. I told them I was leaving because I heard Howard Coble was leaving and that would really make me the oldest guy,"
Gut Check Full Service from @DeirdreWalshCNN: North Carolina GOP Rep. Coble, who announced last fall he wouldn't run for another term, is 82 – almost a decade younger than Hall.
– Paul Ryan: Why do I keep getting mistaken for Anthony Weiner? –
REP. PAUL RYAN AT AN EVENT WITH MICHIGAN REPUBLICANS WEDNESDAY: " I went on this flight a week later and the flight attendants were looking at me and ... finally one of them comes up to me, she says, 'You're someone famous aren't you. Are you Anthony Weiner?’ ... I've been confused with Anthony Weiner twice now ... I have no idea how that happens!"
– Weiner: Being confused with Paul Ryan Is the 'final insult' –
ANTHONY WEINER TO BUSINESS INSIDER: “(That is) the final insult ... How much more can I bear?"
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman)
Senate's absence this week (and general disfunction) has left House Republicans free to set the narrative on the VA scandal.
Kyle Kondik (@kkondik)
Worth noting that the DCCC is locking in cheaper airtime now, but they can modify it later, as @Philip_Elliott notes
#FiscalResponsibility MT @kkondik: Worth noting: the DCCC is locking in cheaper airtime now, can modify it later, as @Philip_Elliott notes
Richard Tisei (@Richard_Tisei)
Spoke with @DentforCongress last night. Told him I was proud to see him stand up for marriage equality http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/05/28/gop-congressman-on-gay-marriage-life-is-too-short-to-stand-in-its-way/ … #MA6
We are honored to announce that @GovernorOMalley will keynote the 2014 Iowa Democratic Party State Convention http://bit.ly/RGk2z2
Peter Hamby (@PeterHambyCNN)
Grimes campaign manager hung up on McConnell's campaign manager when he tried to call him about debates http://www.courier-journal.com/story/politics
Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum)
McDaniel is a conservative champion who will go to DC & fight to restore the American Dream! http://ptrtvoic.es/1oNEKsU #MSSen @CMForUSSenate
Ashley Killough (@KilloughCNN)
"His cap was blue, his house was white and now his robe is crimson." - Harvard speaker on Yale grad @GeorgeHWBush's honorary degree.
Steve Brusk (@stevebruskCNN)
Speaker at ceremony: "it is seldom on this stage that we take the occasion to honor the former member of the cheerleading squad at Yale:
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Likening the selection process to an election, Sen. Thad Cochran told Roll Call in 2011 that campaigning to be cheerleader at the University of Mississippi was the “first serious political experience” of his life.
“You had to go around to the different residence houses and fraternity and sorority houses and campaign, answer questions and make a little speech about why you thought you’d be a good cheerleader,” Cochran said.
Cochran isn’t the only politician to wave pom-poms before campaign signs. Sen. Trent Lott also cheered at Ole Miss. in the early 1960’s. President George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were both cheerleaders at Yale. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan were also all former cheerleaders.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congrats to Ellie Shingleton (@ershingleton) for correctly answering today’sGut Check trivia question.
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