CNN's GUT CHECK for April 23, 2014
April 23rd, 2014
05:17 PM ET
36 minutes ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 23, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 23, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

NEW POLLS SHOW TIGHT SENATE RACES IN NC, KY… New polls in four southern states that could determine whether the Democrats keep control of the Senate in this November's midterm elections indicate close contests. According to the New York Times Upshot/Kaiser Family Foundation surveys, North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is all tied up with GOP state House Speaker Thom Tillis. Hagan's two-point 42%-40% margin is within the survey's sampling error. In Kentucky – one of only two states right now where the Democrats hope to go on offense – Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell appears basically deadlocked with Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. According to the poll, 44% of registered voters in Kentucky say they'd back McConnell, compared to 43% for Grimes.

AND WIDER MARGINS IN AR, LA … In Arkansas, the survey shows Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor leading GOP Rep. Tom Cotton by 10 points, 46%-36%. In Louisiana, 42% of voters back Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu while 18% back GOP front-runner Rep. Bill Cassidy. (If no one cracks 50% of the vote in Louisiana, the top two finishers compete in a runoff in December.)

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CNN's GUT CHECK for April 22, 2014
April 22nd, 2014
04:46 PM ET
1 day ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 22, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 22, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

SCOTUS UPHOLDS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION BAN … The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, a key decision in an unfolding legal and political battle nationally over affirmative action. The justices found 6-2 that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Breyer were in the majority; Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented. – Bill Mears

JUSTICE KENNEDY: "This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it.”

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: "For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.”

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April 21st, 2014
04:44 PM ET
2 days ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for April 21, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 21, 2014 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BIDEN TO UKRAINE … Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Ukraine on Monday for a brief and symbolic show of support for the government in Kiev. The trip comes at a troubled time. There are complaints on all sides about the framework reached last week among Russia, the United States and European Union to reduce tensions in the region. – Zach Wolf

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April 18th, 2014
06:01 PM ET
4 days 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.’’ FULL POST


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April 17th, 2014
05:48 PM ET
6 days 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.”

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CNN's GUT CHECK for April 16, 2014
April 16th, 2014
04:51 PM ET
7 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.

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April 15th, 2014
05:24 PM ET
1 week 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

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CNN's GUT CHECK for April 14, 2014
April 14th, 2014
07:08 PM ET
1 week 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.

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April 11th, 2014
05:41 PM ET
2 weeks 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.

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CNN's GUT CHECK for April 10, 2014
April 10th, 2014
06:07 PM ET
2 weeks 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

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