CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 25, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: The U.S. Marine who used his Facebook page to criticize President Barack Obama has been discharged, a U.S. Marine spokesman said Wednesday. Sgt. Gary Stein has been discharged with an “other than honorable characterization,” according to Capt. Brian Block, a spokesman for the U.S. Marines. According to reporting by CNN's Security Clearance Blog, among other comments posted to his Facebook page, Stein called Obama a liar and suggested he would not follow some orders issued by the president.
Who said, “I told my pastor when I die, I want him to be able to say at my funeral that I made a difference,” in an interview with Agence France Presse?
It has been a few weeks since Mitt Romney was all but declared the winner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Some may say the exact date might have been April 3, when Romney swept the District of Columbia, Maryland and Wisconsin primaries, or perhaps April 10, when Rick Santorum suspended his campaign.
But historians will probably look at the past 24 hours as the official kick-off for the general election that will pit Romney against President Obama. Romney won all five presidential primaries Tuesday night and in his victory speech started talking as if he was the presumptive nominee. The Republican National Committee described Romney as the “presumptive nominee” in a statement Wednesday morning, and just a few hours later, the final hurdle was cleared for Romney in his path to the GOP nomination when Newt Gingrich acknowledged his campaign was over.
So it’s full speed ahead to November for the Romney campaign, which had already been focused on the general election, but still had to keep an eye on the primaries.
The most significant event of the three to happen in the past 24 hours was the RNC’s declaration that Romney was the GOP’s candidate, followed by Romney himself having the confidence and support to speak in a tone that expressed he was the presumptive nominee. Gingrich’s decision to abandon his campaign was not critical to Romney’s planning for November, but it was important because the former speaker will no longer be a thorn in Romney’s side. In fact, now he will be an ally.
Romney played it correctly. He called Gingrich on Wednesday and asked for the former speaker’s support, but he did not pressure him to quit. Gingrich, the architect of the Contract with America, is not someone who rolls over easily and has balked at any efforts so far to force him out of the race.
"Gov. Romney called this morning, and he was very gracious and said he would respect any decision that Newt was going to make," R.C. Hammond, Gingrich's spokesman, told Gut Check. "If he chose to stay in the race he would be respectful of that, but if Newt did choose to suspend then Gov. Romney said I want you to be a member of our team and help us."
At that point Gingrich told Romney he was suspending his campaign and would support him in his effort to try to defeat Obama in the fall, Hammond said.
Gingrich will make it official next week – likely Tuesday – at a final campaign event in the nation’s capital.
It is unclear what type of surrogate role Gingrich will take in the Romney campaign, but it would be shortsighted to think he won’t be helpful.
As several Republican strategists told Gut Check on Wednesday, while Gingrich can be polarizing, he is still respected by base conservatives and he is a draw on the fundraising circuit. “Folks will pay money to meet him and hear him talk,” said one strategist.
Gingrich not only could be an asset for Romney, but also House and Senate Republicans for the same reason: He can help raise money and will play well in some congressional districts. Hammond noted that the former speaker is committed to helping Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, maintain his majority in the House and helping Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Kentucky, efforts to win back the Senate.
Gingrich might no longer have a presidential platform to stand on, but he still maintains street cred in corners of the Republican Party - and that alone will makes him a player in the 2012 election.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Gingrich's 2012 campaign leaves him with mixed legacy
Newt Gingrich will leave the Republican presidential campaign with a mixed legacy and a campaign deep in debt.
Leading Drudge: Obama’s Lawyer Chokes Again
Supreme Court justices took a dim view of the Obama administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws, telling government lawyers during oral argument Wednesday that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.
Leading HuffPo: Supreme Court Appears To Favor Arizona On Controversial Immigration Law
A majority of the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning appeared sympathetic to Arizona's argument that the most controversial elements of its immigration law offer a legitimate helping hand to federal immigration policy, rather than act as unconstitutional agents of chaos.
Leading Politico: Rob Portman: Vice President Vanilla?
The last legislation Ohio Republican Rob Portman introduced in the Senate was a bill aimed at keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The measure didn’t excite the tea party, cause liberal activists to wax indignant or make cable-TV bookers work overtime. And that may suit Portman just fine.
Leading New York Times: Gingrich Tells Romney He Will Quit Race
Newt Gingrich told Mitt Romney on Wednesday morning that he would suspend his presidential campaign next week and begin working to turn out conservative voters for Mr. Romney and Republican candidates in the fall election, Mr. Gingrich’s spokesman said in an interview.
The political bites of the day
- Obama on GOP economy: ‘We tried that… It did not work out well’ -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH ROLLING STONE: “Their vision is that if there's a sliver of folks doing well at the top who are unencumbered by any regulatory restraints whatsoever, that the nation will grow and prosperity will trickle down. The challenge that they're going to have is: We tried it. From 2000 to 2008, that was the agenda. It wasn't like we have to engage in some theoretical debate – we've got evidence of how it worked out. It did not work out well, and I think the American people understand that.”
- Edward staffer wrote book for money, truth -
EDWARDS CAMPAIGN STAFFER ANDREW YOUNG ON WHY HE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT THE SEX SCANDAL: “It had been almost three years since Mr. Edwards promised me he would tell the truth... we also very much needed the money."
- Rubio touts involved international strategy–
SEN. MARCO RUBIO IN A FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH AT THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: “I always start by reminding people that what happens all over the world is our business. Every aspect of our lives is directly impacted by global events. The security of our cities is connected to the security of small hamlets in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and of Somalia. Our cost of living, the safety of our food, the value of things we invent, make and sell are just a few examples of ever day aspects of our lives that are directly related to events abroad and make it impossible for us to focus on our issues here at home.”
- Boehner handicaps election: ‘We've got a fight on our hands’ -
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER AT THE HOUSE GOP COFERENCE STAKEOUT: “I'm always going to be myself. And the fact is, is that while things look pretty good today, you don't know what's going to happen over the next six months. I want our members and our supporters around the country to understand the facts. You got 89 freshmen members running for their first re-election. You've got 40 members, over 40 members running in districts that were won by Barack Obama. We've got, we've got a fight on our hands and our members and our teams needs to be prepared.”
- Leno brings Secret Service and GSA scandals together -
JAY LENO JOKED ABOUT THE SCANDALS NAGGING THE GOVERNMENT ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “It now appears that as many as a dozen members of the Secret Service were involved in a Colombian prostitution scandal. Six agents have been reassigned; the other six are now party planners for the GSA.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Lilly Ledbetter wanted to make a difference and as an activist for fair pay, many would say she did.
Ledbetter started working at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 1979. She was an overnight supervisor for nearly two decades and received periodic raises as she stayed with the company. Shortly before she was to retire in 1998, someone anonymously slipped her a note in her mailbox. The note had Ledbetter’s monthly salary on it, along with the noticeably higher salaries of men who were doing the same job. She decided to sue and the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Though Ledbetter won her initial suit against Goodyear, the court ruled 5-4 that she waited too long (more than 180 days) after her first discriminatory paycheck to file her claim.
Ledbetter’s story loomed large in the 2008 campaign. Then-Sen. Barack Obama spoke about Ledbetter frequently on the stump and after he won, she danced with him at an inaugural ball after he was sworn in. When Obama stepped into the White House, the first piece of legislation he signed was “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” a law that ensures people who believe they have been discriminated against based on gender have a fair shot at suing their employers.
On Tuesday, Ledbetter wrote an op-ed for CNN. In it, she writes that when Romney’s advisers struggled to answer a question about the act bearing her name, they were insulting women’s claims to equal pay.
“Anyone who wants to be president of the United States shouldn't have to think about whether hardworking, responsible middle-class families deserve the opportunity to succeed,” wrote Ledbetter. “We know all too well what it's like to hear silence when we fight for fairness - and we've heard enough.”
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