April 18th, 2014
06:01 PM ET
8 hours ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 18, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 18, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PUNTS KEYSTONE DECISION … The Obama administration indefinitely suspended a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline Friday, telling multiple leaders in Congress it is extending the comment period on the matter until the conclusion of a Nebraska lawsuit on the issue… An earlier State Department report on the pipeline found that it would have no significant environmental impact. That report was initially due to be finalized after a public comment period ended in early May, but the Obama administration is now holding that period open.– Lisa Desjardins

Keystone advocates immediately blasted the decision. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the extension, “shameful” and “egregious.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, joked: “I guess (the president) wasn’t serious about having a pen and a phone.” Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, and Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, called the delay “ridiculous” and “unacceptable.”

Environmental groups were pleased. “The State Department is taking the most prudent course of action possible,” the National Resources Defense Council said in a statement. “The newly extended comment period will show what we already know: the more Americans learn about this project, the more they see that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in the national interest.’’

UKRAINE SEPARATIST LEADER REJECTS DEAL … The self-declared leader of pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk on Friday defied an international deal for protesters to vacate seized buildings and lay down their arms. The deal was agreed to by Russia, Ukraine and the West. – Laura Smith-Spark and Phil Black

AS HILL LAWMAKERS ARGUE FOR MORE UKRAINE AID … The White House is not going far enough in sending aid to Ukraine, top House Armed Services Committee Republicans and Democrats said in a letter to President Obama that was obtained by CNN. Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, ranking Democrat Adam Smith and ten other panel members wrote the president late Thursday night after the White House announced another round of non-lethal aid to Ukraine. – Lisa Desjardins

… AND CORKER PUSHES FOR LETHAL ASSISTANCE: The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tennessee’s Bob Corker, tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that Russia is “playing” the U.S. “I think it's time for us to consider anti-tank weaponry, anti-aircraft weaponry” for Ukraine’s military, Corker tells Tapper. “Obviously, Russia is going to far outman them.”

FIRST ON CNN: MEMO SAYS GOP COMPETITIVE IN FIVE MORE SENATE RACES … The National Republican Senatorial Committee argues Republicans have expanded the 2014 playing field with five more contested races as the GOP seeks to retake control of the upper chamber. In a memo released to consultants Friday morning, NRSC political director Ward Baker writes that Republicans have become competitive in Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia, Oregon and Minnesota since the start of the year.

MORE CLINTON-ERA DOCUMENTS RELEASED … The Clinton Presidential Library released a fourth batch of confidential memos, notes and other papers on Friday … The release spans a range of issues from the 1990s, including Rwanda, the Oklahoma City bombing, the former Yugoslavia, affirmative action and immigrant detention.

Highlights include concerns about a summit with Bush 41 and Colin Powell, a memo written to the Clintons and Gores about the Jetsons and other educational cable programing for children, governance in the District of Columbia and the politics of funerals.
See what we’ve found so far in today’s document dump.

THE BUZZ: HUFFINGTON TELLS TAPPER: ‘WE ARE LIVING UNDER A COLLECTIVE DELUSION’ … Arianna Huffington frequently tweets about the power of yoga and the need to take time to relax, meditate and exercise. But how does one of the most successful media moguls in the world make time for all those things? In an interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” Huffington explains that a case of extreme exhaustion in 2007 caused her to reassess her personal priorities and reexamine the culture we live in. “Our culture has glamorized sleep deprivation as a kind of virility symbol and assumes that is the only way to succeed,” Huffington says. She argues that we are living in “a collective delusion” where burnout equates with success, and argues that that mentality is actually counterproductive.

MARKET WATCH: U.S. markets were closed for Good Friday.

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer below)
Who is the only person to have represented three states in the U.S. Senate?

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics.com: First on CNN: Amy Kremer resigns from Tea Party Express
Amy Kremer, the Tea Party Express chairwoman who has played a major role in elections for the past five years, is resigning. "This has been a really difficult decision for me, but the time has come for me to leave Tea Party Express," Kremer said Friday. – Ashley Killough and Steve Brusk and Paul Steinhauser

Leading Monroe News Star: Accused video leaker quits staff
Leah Gordon, the staff member of U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister who is accused of leaking the video of the congressman’s scandalous kiss, has resigned as his Monroe District Office manager. Adam Terry, McAllister’s chief of staff, confirmed her resignation late Wednesday. He said Gordon wasn’t fired. – Greg Hilborn

Leading Drudge: Pope Pelosi Washes Feet Of Immigrants
To "honor the dignity and work of immigrants," Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi helps Bishop Marc Andrus wash the feet of two children Thursday at Saint John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in San Francisco.

Leading HuffPo: Rep. Tim Huelskamp Claims Kansas Has More Uninsured Since Obamacare
"It's hard to get accurate numbers on anything," Huelskamp told his constituents at a town hall in Salina, Kansas, according to video posted by Eagle Community Television. "But the numbers we see today is that - as I understand them - we believe there are more people uninsured today in Kansas than there were before the president's health care plan went into effect. And I thought the goal was to bring more people into insurance." – Andrew Perez

Leading Politico: Elizabeth Warren book dishes on big Washington names
Elizabeth Warren’s upcoming book chronicles many private meetings with powerful politicians such as President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner. The Massachusetts Democrat also describes conversations with plenty of other Washington bold-faced names, including Larry Summers; Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas); and Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Not surprisingly, not all of the officials are given flattering portrayals in the book.- M.J. Lee

Leading New York Times: G.O.P. Discovers Useful Voter Outreach Tool: Gun Sweepstakes
Hand over your email address to a political campaign, and typically all you can expect in return is an endless stream of solicitations for money. But one supporter of Greg Brophy, a state senator who ran for governor in Colorado, got something else: a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle. – Jeremy Peters

HOT SOTS
The political bites of the day

– Harry Reid calls Nevada cattle rancher’s backers 'domestic terrorists' –
REID AT A LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL Q&A THURSDAY EVENING: "Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists … I repeat: What went on up there was domestic terrorism.”

– Rand Paul to Harry Reid: ‘Calm the rhetoric’ –
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KENTUCKY, ON FOX NEWS THURSDAY: “I don't think calling people names is going to calm this down. I think it's liable to stir it up. So I think all parties, including Senator Reid, should calm the rhetoric a little bit. Let's try to have a peaceful resolution to this.”

– Snowden reveals why he divulged classified NSA information –
EDWARD SNOWDEN IN AN OP-ED IN THE GUARDIAN: “Clapper's lie – to the Senate and to the public – was a major motivating force behind my decision to go public, and a historic example of the importance of official accountability.”

– Brendan Buck to media: “Chill” –
BOEHNER SPOKESMAN BRENDAN BUCK ON REPORTS THE SPEAKER IS ‘HELLBENT’ ON IMMIGRATION REFORM: “Because many of you are asking, here is a comment from me on the status of immigration, which as you will see is the same as it has been. Everyone can tell their editors to chill. The House’s focus remains on jobs and the economy. Nothing has changed. As he's said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won't happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law."

– Daily Caller News Foundation editor: ‘Voting against Bushes is an act of love’ –
DAILY CALLER NEWS FOUNDATION’S JIM ANTLE IN AN OP-ED: “Neither President Bush left the Republican Party in better shape than he found it … Thank the GOP’s first family for their service. Viewed under a thousand points of light, they’ve done a heckuva job. But somewhere in this kinder, gentler nation there must be an alternative. Sometimes voting against Bushes is an act of love.”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Nick Confessore (‏@nickconfessore)
Release from @TomSteyer on Keystone: "This is rotten eggs for TransCanada and good news on Good Friday"

Reince Priebus (@Reince)
Voters will remember #KeystoneXL delays next time @BarackObama says he's serious about income inequality. Tom Steyer: 1; American jobs: 0.

Chad Pergram (‏@ChadPergram)
Sens Begich & Landrieu, both facing tough re-elections, blast Obama Admin for latest Keystone delay.

Brad Dayspring ‏(@BDayspring)
Mary Landrieu yesterday: "My Energy Chairmanship is good for #Louisiana!" Mary Landrieu today: "I am powerless on #Keystone" #LAsen

Robert Costa ‏(@costareports)
scoop: Romney has donated to and privately endorsed Elise Stefanik, Steve Daines, Tony Strickland... rollouts soon http://wapo.st/1iwkAlr

Steve Scully (‏@SteveScully)
No Senate run for K Sebelius – Kansas Dems look for alternatives @CSPANPolitics

Alan He ‏(@alanhe)
#clintondocs In jan 13, 1999 meeting on SOTU, Clinton worries about appearing obsessed with Saddam Hussein. pic.twitter.com/wymPxq7BjD

Maeve Reston ‏(@MaeveReston)
Advice to Bill b4 a presser: "3 touchstones you can keep coming back to...you're calm, you're just out here doing your job" #ClintonDocs

Jim Roberts (‏@nycjim)
Rob Ford launches re-election campaign by thanking those who stood by him in “rocky" times. http://on.thestar.com/1qTy4dL pic.twitter.com/0NzYSD8h9d

Al Garcia ‏(@AlGarciaUSA)
Nebraska Senate: Shane Osborn has Grover Norquist on his side...Ben Sasse has Mike Lee and Sarah Palin on his side http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/04/17/nebraska-power-hour-senate-candidates-duel-on-glenn-becks-radio-program/

Andrew Malcolm ‏(@AHMalcolm)
Illinois makes an offer it hopes Obama can't refuse: $100 million in taxpayer funds to lure his library site http://news.investors.com/politics-andrew-malcolm/041814-697715-obama-presidential-library-chicago-public-money.htm

Jennifer Scoggins ‏(@JenScogginsCNN)
. @WolfBlitzer Reports: Popes & Presidents airs on Easter Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. pic.twitter.com/9VeMNq96Et

Jen Buesinger Sperry ‏(@jenbuesinger)
Obama: "Democrats should forcefully defend & be proud” of ACA. @MoElleithee @seanspicer @StuPolitics & the #Obamacare effect Sun 9a @CNNsotu

John King ‏(@JohnKingCNN)
smart take from @danmericaCNN: take a few baby steps away from notion everything @HillaryClinton is political: http://cnn.it/PcpjNL

Gut Check DVR: Catch John King’s ‘Inside Politics’ on Sunday at 8:30am E.T. with Peter Hamby, Annie Lowrey, Jonathan Martin, and Laura Meckler.

TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer

Sen. James Shields, a Democrat, represented Illinois from 1849 to 1855, Minnesota from 1858 to 1859, and Missouri in 1879. Shields launched his Senate career in Illinois after fighting in the Mexican War, but failed to win reelection and subsequently packed his bags for the Minnesota Territory. He then became one of Minnesota’s first two U.S. senators, but again failed to win reelection after his short term expired. Years later, the 73-year-old Shields was elected to represent Missouri. He died shortly thereafter.

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

Congrats to Christopher S. Brown (@chrisbrowntv) and Jessica Niestzche (@jneetch) and Mason Sims (@Mason_Sims) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.

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Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
April 17th, 2014
05:48 PM ET
1 day ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 17, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 11, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING: OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT HITS 8 MILLION … “The repeal debate is and should be over,” President Obama said while announcing the new figures at the White House. The Republicans are “wrong to try to keep trying to repeal a law that is working when they have no alternative answer.”

… BUT HILL REPUBLICANS REMAIN UNIMPRESSED: “This law has disrupted health care for millions of Americans, sent premiums skyrocketing, limited access to doctors, and cancelled plans, and even after all of that havoc, its ability to add to the insurance rolls is based largely on the fact that it forced Americans to purchase government-mandated coverage under the threat of costly penalties from the IRS,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Michigan. “The administration still has not answered basic questions about enrollment and why it will not support fairness for all.”

FULL POST


Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
CNN's GUT CHECK for April 16, 2014
April 16th, 2014
04:51 PM ET
2 days ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 16, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 16, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

OBAMA SLAMS HOUSE GOP ON IMMIGRATION … Marking the one-year anniversary of the Senate’s passage of a comprehensive immigration reform plan, President Obama released a statement Wednesday ripping House Republicans for "repeatedly failing to take action” on the issue. The president said the House GOP seems to prefer “the status quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform.”

AS DIAZ-BALART URGES GOP NOT TO CEDE THE ISSUE: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, warned fellow Hill Republicans on Wednesday that if they do not take action on immigration reform, Obama will take the matter into his own hands.

“I’m convinced that if we don’t get it done by the August break, the president, who is feeling a lot of pressure from having not done anything on immigration reform, will feel that he has to act through executive action,” Diaz-Balart told the Washington Post. “If he does that, the window for Republicans and Democrats to negotiate on this issue is closed until the next president.

FULL POST


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April 15th, 2014
05:24 PM ET
3 days ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 15, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for  April 15, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BIDEN TO BOSTON: ‘TWISTED’ TERRORISTS WON’T PREVAIL … Honoring victims of last year’s bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday the terrorists who carried out the act could never claim victory over America’s ideals.

“You will send a resounding message around the world - not just around the world but to the terrorists - that we will never yield. We will never cower. America will never ever stand down,” Biden told survivors. – Kevin Liptak

See More:  Poll: No partisan divide over Boston Marathon investigation

FULL POST


Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
CNN's GUT CHECK for April 14, 2014
April 14th, 2014
07:08 PM ET
4 days ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 14, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 14, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

GUARDIAN, WASHINGTON POST WIN PULITZER FOR NSA COVERAGE … The Washington Post and the Guardian were awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their reporting on Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs.

According to the Pulitzer website, their reporting was “marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.”

The Boston Globe also won for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, which occurred one year ago on Tuesday. The Globe newsroom held a moment of silence.

FULL POST


Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
April 11th, 2014
05:41 PM ET
1 week ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 11, 2014

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CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 11, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

POST-LBJ LIBRARY VISIT, OBAMA NARROWS IN ON VOTING … A day after visiting the LBJ Library, President Obama addressed voting rights, calling the Republican-led movement to crack down on voter fraud “bogus.”

“The real voter fraud is people trying to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud,” Obama said. “Some of these officials…have not been shy about saying that they’re doing this for partisan reasons.”

Obama’s remarks were a continuation of the administration’s effort to spotlight GOP-backed measures that critics claim place undue hardships on voting for minorities, students and immigrants. – Kevin Liptak

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL TAPPED TO REPLACE SEBELIUS … President Obama announced Friday that he is nominating current director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services Secretary.

Sebelius – who weathered heavy criticism over the flaw-filled launch of the Obamacare website, and then saw the program through as it topped a major milestone – told the President in March that she would be resigning following the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. In a speech in the Rose Garden on Friday, Sebelius called the Affordable Care Act the “most meaningful work I’ve ever been a part of. In fact, it’s been the cause of my life.” – Jim Acosta and Greg Botelho

BROWN HITS GRANITE STATE AIRWAVES … Former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts will go up Monday with his first television commercial in his Republican Senate bid in neighboring New Hampshire. The launch of the ad, coming just four days after Brown formally kicked off his campaign, is another sign that if he wins his party's nomination, his challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen could turn the contest in the Granite State into one of the most high profile and expensive Senate races in the country. – Paul Steinhauser

See ad transcript below in HOT SOTS.

THE BUZZ: POPE ASKS FOR FORGIVENESS FOR EVIL OF SEX ABUSE … Pope Francis made his strongest condemnation of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday, asking for forgiveness and pledging to impose penalties on "men of the church" who harm children.

“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," the Pope said in remarks quoted by Vatican Radio. The Pope's new comments, made to a Catholic NGO on Friday, represent a shift from his previous statements on sexual abuse. – Daniel Burke

MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks fell in a volatile session on Friday, with the NASDAQ slipping below the 4,000 mark for the first time since early February.

FULL POST


Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
CNN's GUT CHECK for April 10, 2014
April 10th, 2014
06:07 PM ET
1 week ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 10, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 10, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

OBAMA: “I’M STANDING HERE TODAY” BECAUSE OF LBJ … Joined by three former presidents Thursday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, President Barack Obama honored Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the historic measures that helped pave his way to the White House. "New doors swung open for everybody. Not all at once, but they swung open," Obama said. They "swung open for me" and "that's why I'm standing here today."– Kevin Liptak

FULL POST


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CNN's GUT CHECK for April 9, 2014
April 9th, 2014
05:59 PM ET
1 week ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 9, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 9, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

AT LEAST 20 HURT IN PA HIGH SCHOOL STABBING SPREE … A teenage boy went on a stabbing spree at his high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, early Wednesday, the town's police chief said. At least 20 people at Franklin Regional Senior High School, about 15 miles east of downtown Pittsburgh, were injured, and the alleged attacker is in custody, Thomas Seefeld said. – Ashley Fantz

EDUCATION SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN TELLS CNN: “Schools are generally the safest places in communities. And until we as a nation are willing, really willing to take on the larger issue of violence in our broader communities, schools will continue to have some challenges.”

FULL POST


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April 8th, 2014
05:19 PM ET
1 week ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 8, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 8, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

RUSSIA WARNS OF CIVIL WAR IN UKRAINE … Russia warned Tuesday that any use of force in Ukraine's eastern region could lead to civil war, as Kiev seeks to regain control after pro-Moscow uprisings in three cities. …Rebels occupying Donetsk's regional government building Monday declared a "people's republic" and called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11. – Laura Smith-Spark, Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Victoria Butenko

FULL POST


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April 7th, 2014
06:14 PM ET
2 weeks ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 7, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 7, 2014| 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

TENSION MOUNTS OVER EAST UKRAINE … Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday that the U.S. has been watching “with great concern” events unfolding in eastern Ukraine over the last 48 hours. Pro-Russian protesters have seized state buildings in several east Ukrainian cities, prompting accusations from Kiev that Moscow is now trying to "dismember" the country. Kerry told Lavrov the protests don’t appear "spontaneous” and warned that further Russian action in Ukraine would incur "greater costs," according to spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

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