CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 7, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: TERROR THREAT TO BLOW UP U.S.-BOUND JET FOILED: From U.S. and international intelligence agencies have broken up an attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner, a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN on Monday. A Yemeni official said the Yemeni government was made aware about a possible bombing and that the alert also went out to other U.S. partners in the war on terror. The target was not specific, the Yemeni official said.
WHITE HOUSE REACTS: “The President was first informed about the plot in April by his Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan, and he has received regular updates and briefings as needed from his national security team. While the President was assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public, he directed the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps necessary to guard against this type of attack. The disruption of this IED plot underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad. – Caitlin Hayden, Deputy NSC Spokesperson
DEVELOPING: HUNTER MAY NOT TESTIFY: Rielle Hunter may not be called in the Edwards trial. CNN’s Raelyn Johnson reports from the federal courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina: Prosecuting attorneys for the United States of America v. Johnny Reid Edwards expect to wrap up their case by the end of the week. Rielle Hunter, John Edwards’ former mistress and mother of his youngest child, has yet to testify. Her spokesperson, RoseMarie Terenzio told CNN, “She’s looking forward to really telling the truth.” While Hunter is listed as a possible witness for the government, it is possible she won’t be called. Not all possible witnesses have actually been called to testify.
What famous composition was born today and where?
What caught our eye was the power of the tweet. The entire news cycle went into overdrive on Sunday when the president’s senior campaign adviser weighed in on the vice president’s appearance on “Meet the Press:”
This Sunday “base boomlet,” six months before the election, overshadowed a bigger problem for the commander in chief: the fact that a leading Democrat and a leading Republican in Congress agree the Taliban is stronger in Afghanistan than it was pre-surge.
This is despite the fact that the president sought to close the book on the unpopular war last week. Standing by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday Obama said, “I'm confident that Afghan forces will grow stronger, the Afghan people will take control of their future... The United States can achieve our goal of destroying al Qaeda and denying it a safe haven, but at the same time, we have the capacity to wind down this war and usher in a new era of peace here in Afghanistan.”
But on Sunday, just back from a CODEL, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Rep, Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, told Candy Crowley they believe the Taliban is stronger than it was before the surge.
FEINSTEIN: I think we'd both say that what we found is that the Taliban is stronger.
CROWLEY: So how…
ROGERS: Yes, I do agree with you.
CROWLEY: ... are we going to ever leave - you both agree with this. I'm assuming you both have information that I don't have, and I'm wondering, A, why the president has said they're weaker now, and, B, what that means for U.S. withdrawal?
ROGERS: Well, we have to decide, and we're going to have to have a hard conversation in America. Are we willing to leave and have a safe haven re-form in Afghanistan?
We have to remember, this is tied back...
CROWLEY: By re-form you mean re-dash-form.
ROGERS: Yes, exactly. This is a huge problem. And what we have found is maybe the policies, the announced date of withdrawal, the negotiations with the Taliban, have worked against what our endgame is here. And we ought to have a hard discussion about saying, listen, war is when one side wins and one side loses.
Perhaps the administration would prefer a longer discussion about gay rights.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Opinion: For Obama, foreign policy campaign could backfire
Though Romney remains vulnerable on national security, given his minimal foreign policy record and the fact that Republicans are still saddled by some of the most controversial parts of George W. Bush's foreign policy record, namely Iraq, Democrats face significant risks if this becomes a central strategy.
Leading Drudge: Hillary Au Naturale
Leading HuffPo: Obama Campaign To Spend $25 Million On Ads In May Alone
Six months before the election, the Obama campaign has allotted a remarkable $25 million for ads to air in May alone, top officials told reporters on a conference call Monday.
Leading Politico: Battleground Poll: Obama, Romney in dead heat
A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll finds a dead heat in the presidential race six months before the election. Mitt Romney edged out President Barack Obama 48 percent to 47 percent among likely voters, a number well within the margin of error, as Republicans rapidly consolidate behind the likely GOP nominee.
Leading New York Times: Education Secretary Embraces Same-Sex Marriage
Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday became the third member of the Obama administration to embrace same-sex marriage publicly, a position at odds with that of the president, who has limited his support to civil unions for gay men and lesbians.
The political bites of the day
- Committed to rights and protections, but opinion ‘evolving’ -
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY TALKS ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA’S VIEWS ON GAY MARRIAGE AT THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING: “I have no update on the president's personal views. What the vice president said yesterday was to make the same point the president has made previously – that committed and loving same sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans and that we oppose any effort to roll back those rights. That's why this administration opposes the Defense of Marriage Act and supports legislation to repeal it. The administration has also stopped defending the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges.”
- Romney campaign: Obama wrong, things aren’t getting better–
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY ANDREA SAUL ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “Gov. Romney always said that President Obama didn't create the recession. But the fact of the matter is he hasn't made things better for people. When you look at his speech this past weekend as well, he kept saying the same things he said in 2008. Will you be better off four years from now? He seems to forget and I think wants to pretend that he hasn't been in charge the past three and a half years and that people's current economic situations have happened on his watch.”
- Axelrod takes us to super PAC land -
OBAMA SENIOR STRATEGIST DAVID AXELROD ON A CAMPAIGN CONFERENCE CALL: “We're also going to be prepared and I want to be clear, to respond to the attacks that I expect to continue from the not just Romney campaign but from the Karl and Koch brothers contract killers over there in super PAC land who are going to continue to pound away on behalf of Gov. Romney.”
- Obama tried for treason? In speech, no response from Romney -
MITT ROMNEY RESPONDS TO A QUESTION IN WHICH A WOMAN SAYS PRESIDENT OBAMA SHOULD BE TRIED FOR TREASON: “Well as I am sure you do, I happen to believe that the constitution was not just brilliant but probably inspired. I believe this same thing about the Declaration of Independence. I believe unlike what the president said about the Supreme Court, where he suggested that it was, not just suggested he said that is would be unprecedented for the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the legislature. Actually, that is their role and has been since Marbury vs. Madison in the early 1800s. And so I will respect the different branches of government if I am fortunate enough to become president.”
FOLLOWING EVENT: Romney responds to question from CNN’s Shawna Shepherd about not President Obama being tried for treason: “I don't correct all of the questions that get asked of me. Obviously I don't agree that he should be tried.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
At first, the deaf Ludwig von Beethoven didn’t know what kind of reaction he received for his Ninth Symphony. Standing with his back turned to the Viennese crowd on May 7, 1824, Beethoven didn't realize the crowd's reaction until a musician turned him around to face the roaring attendees. The aging composer bowed and wept.
The performance in Vienna was the first public performance of the Ninth Symphony and though Beethoven would die three years later in 1827, to this day the composer’s decision to add a choral arrangement in the work remains a high point in his career.
Vienna has had many other firsts through the years, but in researching this trivia question, Gut Check stumbled across one first that we were particularly interested in.
The Vienna Summit was the first meeting between former President John F. Kennedy and Chairman of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev. They met in June 1961, only a few short months after the failed April Bay of Pigs attack. Discussion ranged from Laos to general disarmament, but the main topic was Berlin.
At the last meeting of the summit, Khrushchev delivered a famous back and forth.
Khrushchev: "Force will be met by force. If the U.S. wants war, that's its problem. … It's up to the U.S. to decide whether there will be war or peace."
Kennedy: "Then, Mr. Chairman, there will be a war. It will be a cold, long winter."
Even though most historians see the summit as a win for Kennedy (he didn’t fold to the older premiere), according to “Berlin 1961,”a book by Frederick Kempe, Kennedy told a New York Times reporter that the meeting was the “worst thing in my life. He savaged me.”
Our inbox awaits: email@example.com
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips or comments? Send them to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood. We also want to give a shout out to Dan Merica, who runs our Twitter account @gutCheckCNN and enriches this product every single day.