CNN’s GUT CHECK for March 20, 2012
March 20th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN’s GUT CHECK for March 20, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 20, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

JUST IN: REP. PAUL RYAN (R-Wisc.), in an interview to air on Erin Burnett’s OutFront tonight at 7:10 p.m ET, urges a 2012 focus on the debt: “We need to be honest with people about that and show them how we’d fix this problem.”
SNEAK PEAK: Have any of the GOP candidates approached him about being VP?
RYAN: “No, they’ve got to win these primaries before they can think about this stuff.”
BURNETT: “Oh no they don’t”

MARK (@PrestonCNN) and MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

Get ready for “disparity.” The word will be echoing across spin rooms and control rooms as we prepare for Tuesday night’s Illinois primary coverage.

Numbers are thrown around so often in a campaign that it is good practice to stop and do the math ourselves. So we did. What we found is a staggering contrast:

Spending on television commercials in Illinois

Romney ads + Restore Our Future ads = $621,510 + $1,895,060 = $2,516,570

Santorum ads + Red, White & Blue Fund ads = $17,980 + $68,310= $86,290

- Source: Kantar Media's CMAG, 1/19/12-3/18/12

In simple terms, that means Romney and the super PAC supporting his bid have outspent Santorum and the pro-Santorum super PAC by more than 29 times on the Illinois airwaves.

“I have never seen anything like it. … I hate when people say that, but I really have never seen anything like it in a competitive election,” Ken Goldstein, president of CMAG and founding director of the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project, told Gut Check.

What affect will this apparent historic “disparity” have at the polls? Exit polls in Alabama and Mississippi show that more than 45% of GOP primary voters in those states said campaign ads were not important in their vote. Goldstein noted that what motivates a decision to vote is much more complex than advertisements.

Michele Bachmann, a one-time rival of Romney’s for the GOP presidential nomination, said she thinks the television commercials have helped the former Massachusetts governor. “I think it has probably been a net positive,” Bachmann, who has not endorsed in the GOP primary, told us. “It has helped him to get his message out and helped him move the dial.”

Is there any chance of a backlash against a campaign dominating the airwaves? Goldstein, who noted that he has “sadly been studying campaign ads his whole life,” said there is “zero evidence” in campaign history of any backlash effect – and instead said our focus should be on the margins, as campaign ads don’t generally move a race by double digits, but do make a big difference in the percentage points that could decide a competitive race.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Republicans struggle in Land of Lincoln
The Illinois primary should be a Republican Party homecoming. After all, this is the Land of Lincoln, home state of the first Republican president. But the party of Lincoln is no longer an easy fit for the state of Illinois.

Leading Drudge: Ryan: Slash another $5.3 trillion
House Republicans laid down a bold but risky election-year marker Tuesday, unveiling a budget proposal that aims to tame the national debt by reshaping Medicare and cutting deeply into Medicaid, food stamps and other programs for the poor, while reshuffling the tax code to sharply lower rates.

Leading HuffPo: Illinois Primary 2012: Rick Santorum Hopes Polls Are Wrong Again
The night of the Ohio primary election, Rick Santorum's longtime adviser Mark Rodgers stood in a high school cafeteria in Steubenville while returns came in and explained the former senator from Pennsylvania's history of upsetting election expectations.Leading

Politico: Ryan plan triggers budget wars anew
The budget wars returned full throttle to Congress Tuesday as House Republicans rolled out their proposals to cut by half the deficits in President Barack Obama’s own blueprint but also take the government down a path that reopens old wounds from last summer’s infamous debt battle.

Leading New York Times: Illinois Votes in Rare Turn in Spotlight
Entering the First English Lutheran Church on Tuesday morning, voters in the Illinois Republican primary had to first walk between two network news trucks parked out front. Through one windshield, one could see a monitor glowing in the predawn with live footage from inside the church gymnasium, where eight voting booths stood waiting.

(Answer below)
Which Democratic politician is also known as “the only man to beat Barack Obama”?

The political bites of the day

­- Romney applauds House budget –
A STATEMENT FROM MITT ROMNEY ON PAUL RYAN BUDGET: "I applaud House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and his colleagues for taking a bold step toward putting our nation back on the track to fiscal sanity and robust economic growth. The House Republican budget rejects the out-of-control spending and higher taxes proposed by President Obama in his budget last month. By proposing prescriptions that will strengthen Medicare for generations to come, it also highlights President Obama's failed leadership on entitlement reform.”

- RNC Chair: They are basically one-on-one -
RNC CHAIRMAN REINCE PRIEBUS ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “I think it's an important day in the Republican primary. It's a huge amount of delegates for one state and these guys are battling it out and they are going basically one-on-one. So, I think that today's outcome will be important.”

- Inside the president’s head –
NEWT GINGRICH AT A CAMPAIGN STOP IN RUSTON, LOUISIANA: “I am clearly inside Obama’s head right now because he is totally wrapped around this oil fight. Axelrod attacked me by name on Sunday. Obama attacked me not by name, but referred to my $2.50 plan in the national radio address on Saturday. He has given, I think, seven speeches on energy in the last two weeks. You want somebody who can get inside Obama’s defenses and make him answer our attacks. Because I’ll tell you if we are answering his attacks we are going to lose the race.”

- Not ready for a white first lady? -
ACTOR ROBERT DE NIRO AT A NEW YORK FUNRASIER FOR OBAMA CAMPAIGN: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now, do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”

- Gingrich: De Niro is wrong -
NEWT GINGRICH AT A CAMPAIGN STOP IN SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA: “On behalf of my wife and on behalf of Karen Santorum and on behalf of Ann Romney, I think that Robert De Niro's wrong. I think the country is ready for a new first lady and he doesn't have to describe it in racial terms. … What De Niro said last night was inexcusable and the president should apologize for him. It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong, it divides the country.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Paul Ryan (@RepPaulRyan)
Online NOW: A budget that tackles our debt and ensures more opportunity for generations to come. #2Futures

Paul Begala (@PaulBegala)
Non-partisan Ctr on Budget & Policy Priorities says GOP budget leads to "gradual demise of traditional Medicare."

Luke Russert (@LukeRussert)
Boehner tells me Ryan budget won't make it harder for #GOP House members to win in Nov

Amanda ReCupido (@MediaCupid)

Get thee to vote, people! Illinois Primary Could Yield Record Low Voter Turnout in Cook County

Peter Hamby (@PeterHambyCNN)
Marco Rubio to South Carolina – his first trip to a key presidential primary state since joining the Senate

Wolf Blitzer (@wolfblitzercnn)
Remember Edith & Carolyn from Clinton County, Iowa? Lovely ladies visiting @CNNSitRoom

Many believe history would forever be changed had Barack Obama beat Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, in that first district primary 12 years ago in Illinois. Though very heated, the race wasn’t close; Rush beat Obama 61% – 30% and in a fun bit of political foreshadowing, Rush heralded the endorsement of then-President Bill Clinton. Rush had another fight in 2008, this time with a cancerous tumor found in his jaw. After aggressive chemotherapy, Rush returned to work, prompting Dennis Conrad to write this triumphant lead for his Associated Press report, “The man who once beat Barack Obama now says he has beaten cancer.” Rush is on the ballot Tueday in Illinois seeking an 11th term

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Filed under: 2012 • CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Drew

    I have no problem with balancing the budget or paying down our debt but draconian cuts in Medicare and doing it on the back of the middle class, poor and elderly is wrong. How about paying it down by making these insanely wealthy people pay it down. Put the burden where it belongs, on the backs of the people who wrecked our economy and ran away with the money.

    March 20, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  2. Hawk in texas

    way to go republicans. put the burden on the weak, the poor, the elderly, but be damn sure you give the super rich another tax cut. i just hope i can see the day when there are no more consertive republicans in any kind of office. that even includes garbage man.

    March 20, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |