CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for June 19, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
MILITARY ADVISERS HEADED TO IRAQ: Seeking a middle ground between calls for tough military action and none at all, President Barack Obama said Thursday he was sending up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help the embattled government hold off a lightning advance from the north by Sunni militants. Obama told White House reporters the goal was to prevent a civil war in Iraq that could destabilize the region, and also prevent creation of a terrorist safe haven in northern Iraq and neighboring Syria from which U.S. enemies could plan and launch attacks against American interests.
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At the same time, Obama sought to allay fears of a military escalation that could relaunch the eight-year war he halted by withdrawing U.S. troops in 2011. "American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well," Obama said. – Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen
PELOSI: ‘PROCEED CAUTIOUSLY’ ... “You have to be careful sending special forces because it’s a number that has a tendency to grow,” warned House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California.“In any situation under any president, I would say let’s proceed cautiously in that regard.”
CORNYN: ‘TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE’ … “Things have spiraled out of control. I hope (the 300 advisers) can be effective in protecting American citizens and our property. Unfortunately, I think it might be too little, too late,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “I’d be very doubtful that in a country with 20 million people in the midst of a sectarian war that 300 Americans, as good as they are, will be able to stabilize the country.”
IT’S MCCARTHY #2 AND SCALISE #3 ... House Republicans on Thursday elected Kevin McCarthy as majority leader, succeeding Eric Cantor, who is relinquishing the job after losing his primary election in an upset. The California Republican defeated Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador for the No. 2 position, which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the chamber and deciding which bills come to the floor for a vote.
Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise was also elected as the new House GOP whip, putting a red-state conservative into the No. 3 leadership post. Scalise beat out Illinois Rep Peter Roskam and Indiana Rep Marlin Stutzman after an intense campaign that illustrated the ideological and geographic splits inside the House GOP conference. – Deirdre Walsh
PROSECUTORS CRANK UP HEAT ON WALKER … Prosecutors claim that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – a possible presidential candidate – was at the center of an illegal effort to coordinate fundraising between his campaign and outside conservative groups as he battled for his political life in a 2012 recall election. In documents released Thursday, local prosecutors in Wisconsin alleged wrongdoing by Walker, a Republican, and two top aides. They said the three took part in a "criminal scheme" to bypass state election laws that prohibit such coordination to help his campaign and those GOP state lawmakers also facing recalls.
THE BUZZ: WHO IS TOM STEYER? ... Tom Steyer is a hedge fund billionaire bursting onto the political scene on behalf of environmental causes … focusing on at least seven states that could decide which party controls the Senate, and key statehouses after November. "We need to hold these politicians accountable. If they can't admit that climate change is real – we can't trust them," Steyer says ... With Steyer's $100 million on the table this election cycle, Senate Democrats – perhaps eager to have their names in his checkbook ledger – held an all-night session earlier this year to highlight his pet issue. Republicans were not pleased.
MARKET WATCH: S&P 500 closes at a record high for a second straight day. Dow edges 12 points higher, but NASDAQ slips 0.1%.
Which incumbent president had the worst general election finish – in terms of both the popular and electoral vote – in U.S. history?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: First on CNN: Santorum endorses McMaster in South Carolina runoff
Rick Santorum is making another primary state pilgrimage, this time involving himself in a high-profile Republican runoff election in South Carolina.- Peter Hamby
Leading CNNMoney: Tech’s elite: 'What keeps me up at night'
Stress is part of the package when you’re starting and running a company. CNNMoney tech correspondent Laurie Segall spoke with some of Silicon Valley’s most successful entrepreneurs and execs and asked: “What keeps you up at night?” – Laurie Segall
Leading Drudge: Hard Drives Destroyed
Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled, making it likely the lost emails of the lightening rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources. “We’ve been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away,” Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview. – Rachel Bade
Leading HuffPo: Free-For-All
Amid the chaos of the last week, and the jockeying for position among those trying to quickly take Cantor's place, the question of who will eventually succeed Boehner has received less attention. That contest is wide open. And with Boehner's retirement expected as soon as the next year or two, it is a pressing question. – Jon Ward and Sabrina Siddiqui
Leading Politico: Senate to Joe Biden: We want Hillary Clinton
Interviews with influential senators, Democratic leaders and senior aides show Clinton is the runaway choice of the 55-member Senate Democratic Caucus for 2016. Even the two Delaware senators hedged when asked whether they wanted Biden to run. – Manu Raju and Maggie Haberman
Leading New York Times: Louisianan Seeks to Extend Rapid Rise in House G.O.P.
A victory on Thursday by Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana in the race to become the No. 3 Republican in the House would cap a rapid rise through his party’s ranks since he won his seat in a special election in 2008. – David S. Joachim
Leading New York Times Opinion: Espaillat for Congress
After a humiliating censure by Congress four years ago for failing to pay taxes and other ethical lapses, Representative Charles Rangel has steadily lost power in Washington. After nearly 44 years in office, it is now time for him to yield to the next generation. In Tuesday’s Democratic primary for New York’s 13th Congressional District, we recommend Adriano Espaillat, a New York State senator, who will be a better representative of this district stretching from Upper Manhattan into parts of the Bronx. – New York Times Editorial Board
The political bites of the day
– Kerry: ‘There is no single military solution’ in Iraq –
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY AT A NEWS CONFERENCE: “Unless there is a coming together and elimination of the mistrust and addressing of the sense of isolation of different segments of Iraqi society – unless people are brought together in order to try to bring the country together it’s going to be – there is no single military solution.”
– Schweitzer: Eric Cantor sets my 'gaydar' off –
FORMER MONTANA GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER IN AN INTERVIEW WITH NATIONAL JOURNAL: ““If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say — and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right — but my gaydar is 60-70 percent ... Don't hold this against me, but I'm going to blurt it out. How do I say this ... men in the South, they are a little effeminate. They just have effeminate mannerisms.”
– Brett Favre: ‘Thad Cochran always delivers’ –
BRETT FAVRE IN AN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AD FOR THAD COCHRAN: “I have learned through football strong leadership can be the difference between winning and losing. And when it comes to our state's future, trust me, Mississippi can win and win big with Thad Cochran as our strong voice in Washington … Thad Cochran always delivers - just like he did during Katrina."
Gut Check Full Service:Between the primary and the runoff, the Chamber of Commerce will spend over $1 million on Cochran.
– Carney: ‘I was lobbying against’ becoming ambassador to Russia –
FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THURSDAY’S CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR BREAKFAST:
“The truth is some folks — not the president, I didn’t discuss it with the president — looking at my record and my educational background and my experience thought, Oh that would be a great idea,” said Carney. “To the extent that there was any lobbying by me, I was lobbying against it. Not that it was ever a real thing.”
Gut Check Full Service: Carney speaks Russian and was the former Moscow bureau chief for Time.
– Rick Perry: ‘Texas can’t wait’ for Washington to secure the border –
TEXAS GOV. RICK PERRY IN A STATEMENT: "Texas can't afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis, and we will not sit idly by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened ... Until the federal government recognizes the danger it's putting our citizens in by its inaction to secure the border, Texas law enforcement must do everything they can to keep our citizens and communities safe.”
– Medal of Honor recipient: ‘Freedom is a powerful thing’ –
CORPORAL WILLIAM "KYLE" CARPENTER, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET) IN REMARKS AT THE WHITE HOUSE: “Freedom is a powerful and beautiful thing. Be thankful for what you have, appreciate the small and simple things, be kind and help others, let the ones you love know you love them, and when things get tough, trust there's a bigger plan and that you'll be stronger for it.”
Chanin Nuntavong (@authoriTHAI)
Photo: @chiksdigscars taking a moment to himself before today's White House ceremony. @USMC #medalofhonor
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
amy walter (@amyewalter)
Another sign GOP focused on not fumbling ball b4 Nov. No blood spilled in ldrshp elex. Scalise talks cooperation not combat
Ken Rudin (@kenrudin)
Remarkable how little time these new House GOP leaders have been in Congress: Kevin McCarthy since '06, Steve Scalise since '08.
Russell Berman (@russellberman)
Scalise win puts a red-state conservative in GOP leadership for first time since Hensarling
Robert Costa (@costareports)
Jordan scowled when I said he may jump to Roskam on 2nd ballot to knock Scalise, told Post he's "never said that to anyone"
Deirdre Walsh (@deirdrewalshcnn)
For all those joking about waiting for white smoke outside gop leadership elections I can report strong smell of cigarette smell in hallway.
Evan Pérez (@evanperez)
@donlemon asks Obama critic Sen Coats what he'd do re Iraq; answers range fm getting Arab allies to be more outraged to...dunno
Luke Russert (@LukeRussert)
So #Obama uses ISIL, Pelosi used ISIS- do we use ISIL now?
Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44)
.@LukeRussert Didnt AP styleguide side with ISIL? If not I have some explaining to do around here
Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe)
Cochran sounding very Tea Party in his new ad, touting the "right to make decisions w/out interference from gov" bit.ly/1uG108Q
Paul Steinhauser (@psteinhauserCNN)
Is Chris Christie's appearance at a major conservative conference a signal he's getting more serious about a '16 run? http://cnn.it/1pj9ZeS
Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew)
Tweet like a politician: Enjoyed meeting with @ mention about #hashtag (picture attached) #additonalhashtag
Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower)
.@BuzzFeedAndrew Guilty as charged! Worse than tweeting like a #BuzzFeedReporter tho? "52 ways to know you work @ BuzzFeed. AND 6 cat pics!"
Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew)
I just got owned by @AmbassadorPower.
TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer
Angered by his hand-picked successor’s rejection of his policies after becoming president, Theodore Roosevelt sought to unseat incumbent President William Howard Taft in the 1912 election.
When the Republicans nominated Taft at their convention that year, a frustrated Roosevelt split from the party and ran on the Bull Moose ticket in the fall. Roosevelt and Taft split the Republican vote, allowing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to capture the White House. Taft finished third in the race, winning only 23.2 percent of the popular vote and eight electoral votes. He carried only Utah and Vermont.
"I have one consolation," Taft joked after the loss. "No one candidate was ever elected ex-president by such a large majority."
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Congrats to Wade Payson-Denney (@Therealwadepd) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.
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