June 3rd, 2014
05:42 PM ET
6 months ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for June 3, 2014

CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for June 3, 2014 | 5 p.m.
—  n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

IT’S PRIMARY DAY: 5 RACES TO WATCH ... Tuesday is the biggest single day of primary voting this year, with eight states holding contests from coast to coast. Here are five contests worth watching:


  1. A big test for the tea party: For tea party supporters, the GOP Mississippi Senate primary between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel represents perhaps their most high-profile chance to claim victory after facing a string of defeats this year.
  2. Both sides in the bag: Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst doesn't have to take sides in the battle between grass-roots conservatives and the Republican establishment: She's got the backing of both.
  3. The battle for second: No one is questioning whether Democrat Jerry Brown, who's bidding for an unprecedented fourth term as California governor, is the overwhelming favorite in Tuesday's Golden State primary. The big question is whom the incumbent will face come November.
  4. Tinseltown’s very, very crowded primary: A new-age spiritual healer. A public radio host. A sports executive. A television producer. Those are just four of the 16 candidates running in the primary for California's 33rd Congressional District, which includes Hollywood.
  5. Democrat incumbent challenged in Montana: Republicans view Montana as another chance to pick up a Democratic seat and regain control of the Senate. – Paul Steinhauser and Ashley Killough

POLLS CLOSE: (8pm ET) New Jersey, Mississippi, Alabama (9pm ET) New Mexico, South Dakota (10pm ET) Iowa, Montana (11 p.m. ET) California

WAS THE BERGDAHL SWAP LEGAL? Listening to the White House, it sounds like an adventure movie - the secret swapping of detained terror suspects for an ailing American prisoner of war in Afghanistan. To Congress, it sounds like the same old same old - the White House ignoring an obligation to let legislators know about the deal ahead of time. The President defended the swap Tuesday at a news conference in Poland, saying the circumstances required an immediate decision within his authority as commander-in-chief.

But even an Obama ally like Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California told CNN that as the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she should have received some advance notice of the swap involving Guantanamo detainees.

On Tuesday, Feinstein told reporters that White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken called her to apologize for the lack of advance notice.

Meanwhile, Republicans piled on to the Bergdahl saga as part of their strategy to tarnish both the Obama and Democratic brands ahead of November's congressional elections and the 2016 presidential vote. Some GOP committee chairmen in the House already plan for hearings on the legality of the swap, a move backed by House Speaker John Boehner. – Tom Cohen

OBAMA FOREIGN AFFAIRS RATINGS LOW AS HE DEFENDS SWAP ... 

CNN/ORC POLL
May 29-June 1

How Obama is Handling
Foreign Affairs

Approve           40%
Disapprove     57%

How Obama is Handling
Afghanistan

Approve           42%
Disapprove     56%

Sampling error: +/-3% pts

AMERICANS ALSO DON’T LIKE OBAMA’S HANDLING OF THE VA SCANDAL … Nearly six inten Americans give President Barack Obama a thumbs-down on how he is handling the Veterans Affairs controversy, according to a new national poll.

THE BUZZ: HILLARY CLINTON TO TAKE PART IN LIVE CNN TOWN HALL  ...Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will take part in a live town hall meeting that will be moderated by CNN's Christiane Amanpour later this month. The June 17 event will take place at the Newseum in Washington, and will be the only network televised town hall that the former secretary of state participates in during the closely watched rollout of her new memoir, "Hard Choices."

In addition to Amanpour's questions, Clinton will "take questions from the American public with nothing off limits," according to a CNN statement announcing the event. The town hall will air on CNN at 5 p.m. ET and be simulcast on CNN International and CNN en Español. It will re-air on CNN at 9 p.m. ET. – Dan Merica

MARKET WATCH: Winning streaks end for Dow and S&P 500 as investors pull back from record highs. Dow eases 21 points.

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer Below)
After being released as a POW in 1973, where did John McCain say he hoped to work if he ever left the Navy?

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: 2014 midterms: What's at stake
Their approval rating is horrendous. They rarely get along or get anything done. So here's your chance to do something about it. With the entire House of Representatives and more than a third of the Senate up for election in November, there's a lot at stake in these midterms. – Leigh Ann Caldwell

Leading CNNMoney: Elizabeth Warren: 'Wealth trickles up'
Senator Elizabeth Warren is not shy about being a crusader for the middle class. The senior Massachusetts lawmaker had some choice words for the rich in an online dialogue Monday with French economist Thomas Piketty on economic inequality. The forum, hosted by The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim, was organized by MoveOn, a liberal political action group.

Leading Drudge: Obama saved a rat?
Revealed: Bowe Bergdahl left letter telling comrades at Afghan base he was 'leaving to start new life and didn't want to fight for America' as Army announces he DOES face desertion charges – Daily Mail’s Daniel Bates

Leading HuffPo: Dirty Harry
Arguing for a constitutional amendment to bar unlimited spending in politics, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the flood of unregulated campaign dollars made him feel "unclean." – Michael McAuliffe

Leading Politico: How Obama's team sold the EPA rule
Once again with a big decision to make, President Barack Obama chose a familiar path: a walk around the South Lawn of the White House with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. This time they brought along John Podesta. – Edward-Isaac Dovere

Leading New York Times: Republicans Weigh Odds in Primaries in Iowa and Mississippi
Top Republican officials, eying control of the Senate, were growing more confident heading into Tuesday’s primaries that their candidate in the Iowa Senate race could capture the nomination ... Even as Senate Republicans were optimistic about Iowa, they were nervous about the primary in Mississippi, where Senator Thad Cochran faces a strong challenge from State Senator Chris McDaniel, who has the backing of the Tea Party. – Jonathan Martin

HOT SOTS
The political bites of the day

– Dempsey: Military will get the facts behind Bergdahl’s capture –
JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN MARTIN DEMPSEY, IN A STATEMENT: "As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we'll learn the facts ... Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty."

– McCain: Congress wasn’t briefed on the Bergdahl swap –
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZONA, ON CNN’S “NEW DAY”: “We were never told that there would be an exchange of Sgt. Bergdahl for five Taliban. We were told they were considering, and we steadfastly, both Republican and Democrats, rejected the notion that they were going to release some of these Taliban in exchange for, quote, confidence building measures, so that negotiations could continue.”

– Levin defends Obama’s decision to make the swap –
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN CARL LEVIN, D-MICHIGAN, IN A STATEMENT: “Relative to the requirement that the notification be provided 30 days in advance of the transfer of detainees, the President put Congress on notice on Dec. 23, 2013, that he intended to exercise his powers as commander in chief, if necessary, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers ... While the President cannot change the law with a signing statement, given that notice, members of Congress should not be surprised that he acted as he did in the circumstances that existed.”

– NRSC robocalls slam vulnerable Democrats on EPA regulations –
NARRATOR IN MARY LANDRIEU ROBOCALL: “Why has Mary Landrieu given hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-energy Democrats? Landrieu even claims that she and Harry Reid are a team, even though Reid says oil makes us sick. Tell Mary Landrieu that this war on American energy just doesn’t make sense for Louisiana.”

– Miller: More heads need to roll at Veterans Affairs –
HOUSE VA CHAIR JEFF MILLER, R-VIRGINIA, IN A TIME OP-ED: “When mismanagement and negligence of this scale go essentially unpunished, it sends a message of cold, hard indifference to veterans seeking care at the VA, as well as the hundreds of thousands of dedicated department employees who go to work every day trying to do the right thing ... The only right executives who contributed to the VA scandal should have is the right to be shown the door. It would be a grave mistake for the Senate to stand in the doorway, blocking their exit.”

– Man runs for Senate 36 years after his first try in 1978 –
REAGAN SPEECHWRITER JEFF BELL TO POLITICO ON HIS NJ SENATE RUN: “When you jump off a cliff, you don’t ask for advice. You just do it ... It’s kind of like riding a bicycle.”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

The Lead CNN (‏@TheLeadCNN)
Bergdahl's team leader tells @jaketapper He sought talks with the Taliban http://cnn.it/1otIrTJ

Deirdre Walsh ‏(@deirdrewalshcnn)
House armed Services Chair McKeon invited DOD Secty Hagel to testify on prisoner swap of 5 detainees for Bergdahl on June 11th

Manu Raju (@mkraju)
Feinstein said in 2011 when State was discussing a #Bergdahl swap, lawmakers on relevant panels were "virtually unanimous" against it

Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker)
Sen. McCain suggests that Susan Rice "should have a resolution to stay off the Sunday talk shows."

DSCC (‏@dscc)
Sarah Palin clone may cost GOP Iowa’s Senate seat if she wins primary http://thebea.st/1kmo24H #iasen

Reid Wilson ‏(@PostReid)
@jmartNYT If anyone credits tea party for Ernst's win, their pundit card gets revoked. Branstad' candidate from day 1.

Adam O'Neal ‏(@RealClearAdam)
Brown could win 50 pct of the open primary. Fight for second is classic Tea Party v. Estab, Donnelly v. Kashkari. Completely diff styles

Karyn Bruggeman ‏(@HotlineKaryn)
From here on out, I think all Neel Kashkari references should be written Ka$hkari. It feels right.

Sam Stein (@samsteinhp)
In lieu of a McDaniels victory tonight, does the press go with "Tea Party FIghts Back," "Tea Party, Not Dead Yet" or "Tea Time"

Henry Barbour (@HenryBarbour)
McDaniel needs big turnout and margin in DeSoto County. More transient than rest of MS. Cochran has to do well in traditional sm town MS

Ory Rinat ‏(@OryRinat)
@Heritage news site, @DailySignal, launches today. Hard news plus commentary from @SharylAttkisson and others http://dailysignal.com

Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian)
Politics is a contact sport in New Jersey –mayor says he was punched after voting today. http://politickernj.com/73510/bogota-m …

Garrett Quinn ‏(@GarrettQuinn)
Bill Clinton was so upset when Qatar won the 2022 World Cup bid that he reportedly smashed a hotel mirror: http://bit.ly/1o4vykF

TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer

After his release as a prisoner of war in 1973, John McCain wrote that, if he ever left the Navy, he would like to join the State Department in a Foreign Service role. In a personal account of his experience published by U.S. News in May 1973, McCain discussed his plans for the future.

“My own plans for the future are to remain in the Navy, if I am able to return to flying status,” McCain said at the time. “That depends upon whether the corrective surgery on my arms and my leg is successful. If I have to leave the Navy, I hope to serve the Government in some capacity, preferably in Foreign Service for the State Department.”

Read McCain’s full account of his captivity from 1973 here.

GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(Why aren’t you in it?)

Congrats to DJ Sigworth (@djsigworth) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.

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Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    --GOP is pretty much gone to dogs, for another fifty years or so. No one with brain likes this Nast party of "no" and loots, cheats. True.

    June 3, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  2. SniffinGurgyl

    Somebody the Democrats will be able to compete in this state if we can just get more of them on the government dole.

    June 3, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. Stuffitu

    Other than being corrupt, inept and incompetent, is there a reason the Obozo regime keeps putting Susan Rice on the Sunday shows to lie to us. There are so many other great liars in that administration.

    June 3, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "2.Both sides in the bag: Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst doesn't have to take sides in the battle between grass-roots conservatives and the Republican establishment: She's got the backing of both."

    Whatevs...and since she characterized a mass shooting as an "accident," I guess that means we can characterize both the Teatrolls and the "Establshment" (as if there's even any daylight between them), who support her, as universally disgusting and wiling to pander for campaign funds by downplaying the gun violence atrocities their supporters and policies promote.

    June 3, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  5. Chris-E...al

    America is unsurpassed and unrivaled at con fusion these days . Sweet ?

    June 3, 2014 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Rick Perry will be there if called !

    Few have served , and those that are summoned are chosen ?

    Rick Perry / Nikki Haley
    The Bold and the Beautiful 2016

    June 4, 2014 02:39 am at 2:39 am |