Updated 7:36 p.m. ET, 8/1/2014
CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for August 1, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
OBAMA: ISRAELI SOLDIER MUST BE RELEASED … President Barack Obama said an Israeli soldier captured in the Gaza conflict must be released unconditionally. Hamas has denied abducting the soldier. He also said reviving the collapsed cease-fire is "going to be challenging" without confidence Hamas will comply. And, Obama said "it's hard to reconcile Israel's legitimate need to defend itself with the legitimate concerns" for civilian casualties in Gaza. But he noted the "incredibly irresponsible action by Hamas" in storing rockets in crowded neighborhoods.
Washington (CNN) - Nearly lost in the chaotic last few days, the dueling House and Senate gave fast-track approval to at least one immigration bill - a measure extending 1,000 more special visas to Afghan citizens who have been working for the United States.
Under current law, 3,000 so-called Special Immigrant Visas were available this year to Afghanistan citizens who have worked as U.S. interpreters or in other key roles. Anyone who qualifies technically has until the end of September to apply, but demand has swelled and all 3,000 spots have already been given out or designated.
Washington (CNN) – It's been a year since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky started taking jabs at each other, staking out their ideological territory within the Republican Party.
But the two potential presidential contenders have also been singing the same tune on a few issues as they get closer to 2016.
(CNN) - A circuit court judge on Friday ordered Florida's state legislature to redraw congressional district lines before the state's primary in two weeks, suggesting he would be prepared to delay the November 4 general elections in the newly drawn districts.
Judge Terry Lewis had earlier ruled the map, which consists of 27 congressional districts, to be unconstitutional.
(CNN) - Ben Carson is taking a significant step toward a 2016 presidential run by forming a political action committee, CNN confirmed Friday.
The renowned neurosurgeon and a popular figure among conservatives told the Washington Times he chose Houston businessman Terry Giles to be his campaign chairman, if he decides to launch a White House bid.
Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton told an interviewer in 1999 – the year after the Monica Lewinsky scandal rocked Bill Clinton's presidency – that the President's infidelity issues stemmed from his abusive mother and led to a sex addiction for the former president.
The comments come from an upcoming book by Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, whose book – "Timeless: Love, Morgenthau and Me" – is set to hit bookshelves in late August. Clinton's comments come from an interview she granted Franks, at the time a writer for the short lived Talk magazine.
Washington (CNN) - Eric Cantor will be leaving Congress earlier than expected - the former House majority leader whose primary defeat less than two months ago rocked the Republican Party says he'll resign effective August 18.
Cantor had said after his primary loss that he would step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House on July 31. He announced that he was leaving Congress in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the main newspaper in his Virginia district on Thursday.
Washington (CNN) - Most Americans still say that the economy's in poor shape. But the percentage who describe economic conditions as good continue to slowly but steadily increase, and now stands at its highest level since before the last recession, according to a new national survey.
A CNN/ORC International poll indicates that 58% of those surveyed rates the nation's economic conditions as poor, with 41% saying they are good.
(CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama called the number of homeless veterans “a stain on our nation’s soul,” urging local officials to continuing working to fight the problem.
At an event in Washington on Thursday, Mrs. Obama told a packed room, “as Americans, the idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform spends their night sleeping on the ground should horrify us. So it’s truly our duty to right this wrong and put an end to veteran homelessness once and for all.”