CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for June 4, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
MISSISSIPPI MUD: PRIMARY HEADED FOR RUNOFF: The race between longtime U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and conservative challenger Chris McDaniel was too close to call early Wednesday. Both candidates appeared to be just short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff, making it hard to project a clear winner. If the numbers hold up and neither candidate gets more than half of the vote, Cochran and McDaniel will face off for a second time in a primary runoff on June 24. – Paul Steinhauser, Ashley Killough and Dana Bash
Gut Check Full Service: National Republican Senatorial Committee Vice Chairman Rob Portman, told CNN that the NRSC will continue to support Cochran. "We have three more weeks and we'll continue to do what we've been doing," Portman said on “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” Asked if the negative attack ads in the race should be toned down over the next three weeks, Portman said, “I think it would be wise on both sides."
HOG WILD IN IOWA: State Sen. Joni Ernst didn't have to take sides in the battle between grass-roots conservatives and the Republican establishment. She had the backing of both, and she easily came out on top in a crowded, five-way primary race.
OPEN PRIMARIES HAVE CONSEQUENCES: Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican Neel Kashkari finished in first and second place, respectively, and will advance to the general election in November.
ROMNEY’S CANDIDATES CLEAN UP: Romney has the Midas touch this election season. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee continued his winning streak Tuesday, with three of the GOP candidates he endorsed winning their primaries. – Paul Steinhauser, Ashley Killough and Dana Davidsen
INCONSISTENCIES FROM BOTH SIDES IN BERGDAHL DEBATE... CNN’s Jim Acosta reports from Warsaw: Late Tuesday, Democratic supporters of President Barack Obama’s decision to trade five Guantanamo detainees for Bergdahl’s freedom began circulating quotes from several GOP lawmakers who initially supported efforts to free the Army sergeant but who later criticized the swap. Republican Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte were among the senators being called out for pivoting their positions.
The Obama administration has had its own challenges presenting a consistent narrative about the deal that freed Bergdahl, including the decision to circumvent U.S. law requiring the administration to notify Congress about the detainee release from Guantanamo. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a frequent defender of Obama administration foreign policy, said she was disappointed the White House did not comply with the law. There were also inconsistencies over when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was notified by administration officials about the prisoner exchange.
CLINTON WANTED A TOUGHER DEAL FOR BERGDAHL... While still secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was skeptical of early plans to trade five Guantanamo prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, former officials involved in the process told CNN on Tuesday. Clinton pushed for a much tougher deal than the one reached with Qatar last month that secured Bergdahl's release this weekend, they said. Clinton did not trust the Haqqani network holding Bergdahl, they said, and she was wary that the trade would lead to peace with the Taliban. – Elise Labott
THE BUZZ: CLINTON OPENS UP, AGAIN ... Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told People Magazine in an interview published Wednesday that she believes the United States needs "to break down that highest, hardest glass ceiling" of electing a woman president. "To have a woman president is something I would love to see happen, but I’ll just have to make my own decision about what I think is right for me," Clinton said about her 2016 prospects. – Dan Merica
MARKET WATCH: S&P 500 reaches another record close as U.S. stocks tick higher ahead of the jobs report later this week.
Who are the only two Mississippi senators to serve in Congress longer than Thad Cochran?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Christie to campaign in New Hampshire for GOP candidate
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will campaign in New Hampshire this month for Walt Havenstein, a Republican running for his party's gubernatorial nomination, a New Hampshire GOP source tells CNN. Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, the fundraising and political organization charged with helping to elect GOP gubernatorial candidates. – Mark Preston
Leading CNNMoney: Homeowning no longer the American Dream
The great American Dream is dying. Even though many Americans still desire to own a home, they are losing faith in homeownership as a key to prosperity. Nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, believe they are less likely to build wealth by buying a home today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, according to a survey sponsored by non-profit MacArthur Foundation. And nearly 43% said buying a home is no longer a good long-term investment. – Les Christie
Leading HuffPo: The Face Of Fair Pay: This Socialist Championed A City's $15 Minimum Wage
Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant was one of the key forces behind the city's minimum wage increase. On Monday afternoon, as the Seattle City Council was poised to pass a historic minimum wage hike, Sawant wasn't quite ready to relish the imminent victory. – Dave Jamieson
Leading Politico: Cochran backers face agonizing choice
Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s national backers awakened to a wrenching decision Wednesday: whether to continue pouring energy and cash into an effort to rescue a six-term incumbent who failed to win a majority of the vote in this week’s primary. The dilemma is agonizing on every level, forcing longtime Cochran allies who have already spent millions defending him to gauge how realistic the beloved senior senator’s chances are to win a June 24 runoff. – Alexander Burns
Leading Drudge: My Son Died ‘Looking For A Traitor?’
Sondra Andrews’ son, 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews, is one of six soldiers killed reportedly while searching for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The sergeant’s return to captivity has stirred “very raw emotions.” – Michelle Tan
Leading New York Times: Can Bowe Bergdahl Be Tied to 6 Lost Lives? Facts Are Murky
Did the search for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl cost the lives of American soldiers? Since last weekend’s prisoner exchange in which Afghan insurgents turned over Sergeant Bergdahl after five years of captivity, a number of the men who served with him have called him a deserter. Some have gone further, blaming him for the deaths of six to eight soldiers. – Charlie Savage and Andrew W. Lehren
The political bites of the day
– GOP keeps up VA heat with letter to White House –
MR. PRESIDENT, PLEASE OUTLINE YOUR VA VISION... “It is imperative that you lay out for the American people your vision for reforming what is clearly a broken system ... The VA scandal is a national disgrace, and Americans are eager to know the extent of your willingness to personally take action in order to make things right for those who have served.” – Rep. John Boehner. Rep. Eric Cantor. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
– Graham: Bergdahl deal not ‘best’ America could have gotten –
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA, AT A SENATE HEARING: “It’s not the best deal we could have gotten. It's the deal they wanted. I don't think there was any real effort (to say) ‘would you just take one?' (or) 'would you just take two?' I don't think they thought very hard to not release five because they are looking for ways to get rid of these people.”
Gut Check Full Service:Poll: Graham close to magic number in primary showdown
– Reid: Bergdahl release a win for America, not Obama –
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID, D-NEVADA: “Some of these senators are now denouncing the very same efforts that secured Sergeant Bergdahl’s release. It is clear they are worried his release could be seen as a victory for President Obama. As the president said this is not a victory for him. It is a victory for the United States military and our country.”
– Grimes: Obama 'targeting Kentucky coal' with new EPA rule -
DEMOCRATIC SENATE NOMINEE ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES IN A RADIO AD WEDNESDAY: “Mr. President, Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years ... Now your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations that are impossible to achieve.It's clear you have no idea how this affects Kentucky.”
– Club for Growth: Thad Cochran should concede. Now. –
CLUB FOR GROWTH PRESIDENT CHRIS CHOCOLA IN A STATEMENT: “Senator Cochran has had five decades in Washington and it’s clear that six more years of the same won’t have any impact on the direction of our country. He should do the honorable thing and decline to contest the runoff. Should he choose to persist, the Club for Growth PAC and conservatives throughout Mississippi will vigorously pursue this race to its conclusion, and we will look forward to the election of Senator Chris McDaniel.”
– Defending Main Street Super PAC hits Club for Growth for “arrogance” –
FORMER REP. STEVE LATOURETTE IN A STATEMENT: "It is breathtakingly arrogant for the Club for Growth to call for a 6-term Senator, who may have actually prevailed on Tuesday once all the votes are counted, to step aside and not see the electoral process through."
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Paul Steinhauser (@psteinhauserCNN)
The real winner in Tuesday's primaries is none other than Mitt Romney. Here's why: http://cnn.it/1pRjl26
Kasie Hunt (@kasie)
Iowa continues its streak of rejecting self-funders; Mark Jacobs spent more of his money than any Iowa candidate in history and came in 3rd
Byron Tau (@ByronTau)
Maureen Dowd got so high on pot in Colorado she curled up in a ball and hallucinated for 8 hours. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/06/04/opinion/dowd-dont-harsh-our-mellow-dude.html?referrer= …
Cupid Valentino (@mylestanzer)
I would pay $6 a month for NYT Opinion if there was a recurring feature where Maureen Dowd tried a new drug every month.=0 …
Mark Perigard (@MarkPerigard)
So People Magazine interviews Hillary Clinton....and asks if she has a "hair strategy for 2016." Excuse me as I bang my head on my desk.
Jonathan Wald (@jonathanwald)
I think any question regarding appearance is fair game of a politician whose twitter bio includes "hair icon, pantsuit aficionado".
Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker)
So @TheHillaryBus will not only shadow Clinton's book tour, but also go to Dem events, state fairs & college campuses before midterms.
Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson)
@PhilipRucker @TheHillaryBus was at the White House yesterday, running down Obama on Bergdahl.
DRUDGE REPORT (@DRUDGE_REPORT)
PHOTO: IS CLINTON HOLDING A WALKER? http://drudge.tw/1oaGcpY
Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew)
Was it a chair, was it a walker, what difference does it make? #ChairGhazi
CNN's Gut Check (@GutCheckCNN)
Is #Bergdahl the new #Benghazi? @NiaWaPo and @ronfournier break it down with @JohnKingCNN on #insidepolitics http://cnn.it/1pFdNKN
Ryan Teague Beckwith (@ryanbeckwith)
so many average voters are going to confuse those two names MT @GutCheckCNN: Is #Bergdahl the new #Benghazi?
Eric Weisbrod (@EricWeisbrod)
"Do you even lift, bro?" Photos emerge of Obama lifting weights, doing squats and using an elliptical: http://cnn.it/1pREI3i
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Thad Cochran is the third-longest serving senator in Mississippi's history. First elected in 1978, he has represented the Magnolia State for 35 years, 5 months and 6 days. So who served longer?
Democratic Sen. James Eastland served in the Senate for 36 years, 2 months and 24 days, from June 30, 1941 to September 28, 1941, and again from January 3, 1943 to December 27, 1978. But the record for the longest-serving senator from Mississippi belongs to Democrat John Stennis, who served for 41 years, 1 month and 29 days, from November 5, 1947 to January 3, 1989.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congrats to Ellie Shingleton (@ershingleton) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.
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