CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 18, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta discussed Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria in a rare joint interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at NATO headquarters. Clinton and Panetta are attending a foreign and defense ministers meeting in Brussels.
Clinton continued to dismiss talk that President Obama might turn to her as his running mate in the 2012 election.
BLITZER: “If the president of the United States says ‘Madame Secretary I need you on the ticket this year in order to beat Romney,’ are you ready to run as his vice presidential running mate?”
CLINTON: “That is not going to happen. That’s like saying if the Olympic Committee called you up and said ‘Are you ready to run the marathon would you accept.’ Well, it is not going to happen.”
BLITZER: “It’s unlikely, I’ll say that. If he sees in July that he's going down, he doesn’t want to be a one-term president…”
CLINTON: “Leon and I are in an awkward position, because we’ve both been in politics, now we’re in two jobs out of politics for all the right reasons. So I don’t comment on politics anymore. I'm very confident about the outcome of this election, and as I've said many times, I think Joe Biden, who's a dear friend of ours, has served our country and served the president very well. So I’m out of politics, but I’m very supportive of the team we have in the White House going forward.”
Tune into “The Situation Room” at 5 p.m. ET for the full interview.
What business magnate started his first business by buying a used pinball machine?
scan·dal [skan-dl]. noun
1. a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance, etc.
2. an offense caused by a fault or misdeed.
3. damage to reputation; public disgrace
Seeing that definition spelled out helps appreciate the burn that "alleged prostitution" has placed on a presidential summit and the organizations most known for their patriotism in defending America and its leadership: the Secret Service.
What was billed as a Summit of the Americas has tarred all involved. This morning, the city of Cartagena reached out to CNN en Españolto remind journalists and viewers worldwide that all the visiting presidents traveled safely to their city and to stress that its women are "beautiful," "hard working" and "not prostitutes."
As investigative reporting digs up new details, the scandal underscores the treacherous territory of criticizing people who have dedicated their lives to protecting their country. At the center of the controversy is Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. The same man who took a barrage of criticism for another embarrassing scandal involving the infamous White House party crashers, Tareq and Michaele Salahi.
As Capitol Hill begins to ask its own questions, Sullivan's oversight will become a hot topic. Already, one congressman is calling for Sullivan to step aside.
“I think it is time we had a change at the top and make sure that we aren't just showing to the people of the United States, but people across the world that we are serious about defending and protecting the leadership of this country,” Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, told CNN’s Dana Bash. “You know there is only so many strikes you get. In baseball it is three. I think he has had three, I think it is time to put somebody else there, make sure we are getting a different culture in the Secret Service.”
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the senior Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told Bash that she is concerned this might be a culture that has been accepted at the Secret Service.
“It is so difficult for me to believe that this is the first time that this kind of behavior would have happened and the reason for that is it wasn’t just one or two personnel,” she said. “It was 11 Secret Service personnel and approximately 10 military personnel. That is so troubling. It is not just one of two bad apples and that raises questions about the culture. It raises questions about oversight and most of all it raises questions about whether or not this has happened before in other countries on other important missions."
Juxtapose Collins' sharp questioning with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s staunch defense of Sullivan on Tuesday.
"Director Sullivan's six-year stewardship of the agency has been marked by these traits. In the aftermath of allegations of personnel misconduct in Colombia, Director Sullivan took immediate and decisive action to remove the agents involved, investigate what transpired and ensure the Secret Service continued performing their vital protection mission. I have the highest confidence in the director's leadership and the utmost respect for his distinguished 34 years of law enforcement service.”
At the White House, presidential spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama "has confidence" in Sullivan, who he said "acted quickly in response to this incident.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding an oversight hearing next week with Napolitano, and Democratic sources told Bash they fully expect the Secret Service issue to be part of the focus.
Our eyes are on the investigation to see if that defense continues. CNN has reported that the Secret Service agent who was involved in the alleged payment dispute with the prostitute is a supervisor. Our eyes also remain fixed on Collins’ questions about the culture at the Secret Service - which in FY 2010 reported 1,711 female employees – roughly 25% of its workforce.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Romney appears to be GOP nominee - now what?
After devoting seven years and tens of millions of dollars trying to convince conservatives that he is one of them, Mitt Romney finally has a firm grip on the Republican presidential nomination.
Leading Drudge: The 5 Trillion Dollar Debt Man
In the 39 months since Barack Obama took the oath of office as president of the United States, the federal government’s debt has increased by $5,027,761,476,484.56.
Leading HuffPo: Allen West On Communist Comment: 'I Don't Regret It Whatsoever'
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that he doesn't have any regrets about saying last week that as many as 80 House Democrats are members of the Communist Party, an incident that drew harsh criticisms.
Leading Politico: The year of the 'surrogate'
Hilary Rosen. Bill Maher. Rush Limbaugh. Foster Friess. Even Ted Nugent. They are the nonsurrogate surrogates of the 2012 presidential campaign — consultants, public figures or quasi-celebrities who sometimes thrive on the fringes, throwing rhetorical bombs that ripple for days across the Twitterverse, blogs and cable networks. And they’re making the task of campaign message control more complex — and more urgent — than in previous cycles.
Leading New York Times: Romney’s Critique of War Policy Gets a Closer Look
Despite the tough critique, Mr. Romney has loosely embraced the main thrust of White House policy for troop levels after the election: a timetable for pulling out nearly all troops by the end of 2014.
The political bites of the day
- Should the president golf in these troubling economic times? -
MITT ROMNEY CRITICIZES BARACK OBAMA FOR PLAYING GOLF DURING AN INTERVIEW WITH WLW RADIO IN OHIO: “I
must admit, I scratch my head at the capacity of the president to take four hours off on such a regular basis to go golfing. I remember how the Democrats used to be so critical of George W. Bush for playing occasional golf. He doesn’t begin to play the kind of golf that Barack Obama has, but we don’t hear much about that from the mainstream media. I would think you could kind of suck it up for four years, particularly when the American people are out of work.”
- Obama emphasizes that the cutlery in his house was not made of silver -
PRESIDENT OBAMA DURING AN ECONOMIC SPEECH IN OHIO: “Because somebody did the groundwork we created a foundation for those of us to prosper. Somebody gave me an education. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn’t. But somebody gave us a chance.”
- For Boehner, Buffett Rule = political gimmick -
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER ON THE BUFFETT RULE AT A PRESS CONFERENCE: “Our country is facing some serious economic and fiscal challenges and the global challenges that we have continue to mount and all the American people are getting from the Obama administration are political gimmicks like the so-called Buffett Rule that won't do a thing to create jobs in our country.”
–Conan contemplates who would be a better pet owner: Vick or Romney? -
CONAN O’BRIEN JOKED ABOUT MITT ROMNEY’S DOG ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Anne Romney is defending her husband for strapping the family dog [to the car roof] when on a family vacation, saying the dog loved it. Unfortunately, the dog wasn't able to be reached for comment because he ran away with Michael Vick.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
When Warren Buffett was a senior in high school in 1947, he and a friend purchased a used pinball machine for $25. He then took that pinball machine and put it in a nearby Omaha, Nebraska, barber shop. Within a few months, Buffett and his friend owned three pinball machines in three barbershops.
At the end of 1947, Buffett sold his first “business” for $1,200.
Buffett, now the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has been in the news lately. President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats have been pushing the Buffett Rule, a tax law that would ensure people who make more than $1 million a year would pay at least 30% in taxes. The rule was named for Buffett after he penned an op-ed about how his secretary pays a higher percentage in taxes than he does.
Time Magazine named Buffett to its 2012 list of “100 Most Influential People.” President Obama wrote a nomination letter to Time on why Buffett deserved to be recognized.
“Today, Warren is not just one of the world's richest men but also one of the most admired and respected. He has devoted the vast majority of his wealth to those around the world who are suffering, or sick, or in need of help. And he uses his stature as a leader to press others of great means to do the same,” Obama wrote.
Buffett announced on Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with stage 1 prostate cancer. The 81-year old investor broke the news in a letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.
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