CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 18, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
First on CNN… The Romneys donate their own money to presidential bid: Mitt and Ann Romney each donated $75,000 this week to the Romney Victory Fund, the joint fundraising committee between Romney's campaign and the Republican National Committee, a Romney campaign source told CNN’s Dana Bash.
Just In… Facebook's modest debut: Facebook's stock market debut finally came and went - but for all the breathless hype, shares ended right near their offering price.
What sitting U.S. congressman carries a tribute to Bruce Lee everywhere he goes?
On Fridays, we reach out to the masters of the political class, and today we want to step back and learn from California.
Christopher Lehane, California-based Democratic political consultant
“While it is said, as goes Maine so goes the nation, the reality is that as goes California so will go the nation whether it be cultural trends (e.g. gay marriage), economic (e.g. the clean jobs economy) or demographic (e.g. importance and contributions of the Latino population). Today, as reflected in this week's revelation that the state faces a $16 billion deficit, California is grappling with the challenge of governing in an era of finite resources and in the context of a political infrastructure that facilitates dysfunction as opposed to consensus – in some ways like the current paralysis in government dynamic in Washington, D.C. A generation ago, California was first (or near first) in public education, job creation and infrastructure investment, and today California is at the bottom (or near bottom) in many of these same categories (most notably public education). The state has unparalleled strengths, enormously talented and enterprising creators, great universities, the hubs of the tech, bio and clean energy economies, wonderful weather and diversity. The challenge for the state's political structures and elected leadership will be how to effectively leverage these great strengths to overcome the current political dysfunction and lead a California comeback. Given that California's challenges and strengths reflect the countries' challenges and strengths, California can once again lead the away. And given that the people of the state have demonstrated time and time again the capacity to lead, we will ultimately get it right.”
John Heubusch, executive director for The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation
"California's current political environment is driven now almost exclusively by its economic environment, and with the economic and fiscal mess it finds itself in, it is hard to imagine California ‘teaching’ the rest of the states anything. Perhaps the better way to pose the question is. ‘What can the rest of the states learn from California's mistakes? When a state government finds itself on the edge of its seat awaiting a windfall of income tax revenue from a single company's IPO (Facebook) to help save itself, things are bad. California's great quality of life when you can get off the freeway can't be denied. But its ability to thoughtfully and collectively plan for the long haul in a fiscally sane way is as dreamy a notion of what it produces in Hollywood. The state is weak because its coffers are boom dependent, and its the booms, whether stemming from the internet or the housing bubble, that have masked the same underlying structural problems facing the country as a whole. The issues driving high unemployment, slow growth, and a failing education system among others just find themselves magnified here. Decades of habitual overspending, a hyper-regulated economy, and increasingly progressive tax policies are driving a continued migration from the state. That, in turn, destroys investment opportunities and growth for the future. The cycle continues. But, hey, it's 70 degrees and sunny and you can see the ocean from here.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Obama's North Carolina math problem
The state Democratic Party here is consumed with an ongoing sexual harassment scandal. The embattled governor is so unpopular she decided not to run for a second term. And supporters of same-sex marriage were dealt a crushing defeat at the ballot box last week. – CNN's Peter Hamby
Leading Drudge: The Big Bet
Shares of Facebook Inc. opened about 11% higher after they started trading, but quickly lost steam and fell as low as the$38 IPO price in their first half hour of trading.
Leading HuffPo: Mitt Romney To Mock New Hampshire Bridge Backed By His Supporters
Mitt Romney will campaign Friday in New Hampshire, looking for his own "bridge to nowhere." The Romney camp thinks they have found it in a 19th century bridge no longer used for traffic that was restored with state and federal funds. –
Leading Politico: Race issues return with Rev. Jeremiah Wright
The renewed focus on President Barack Obama’s controversial pastor is reviving the issue that neither presidential campaign wants to discuss directly: race.
Leading New York Times: Magnate Steps Into 2012 Fray on Wild Pitch
Joe Ricketts, an up-by-the-bootstraps billionaire whose varied holdings include a name-brand brokerage firm in Omaha, a baseball team in Chicago, herds of bison in Wyoming and a start-up news Web site in New York, wanted to be a player in the 2012 election. On Thursday he was, though not in the way he had intended.
The political bites of the day
–Romney creates his own bridge to nowhere -
MITT ROMNEY AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: “As you all know the story of this bridge, this is part of the president’s stimulus plan. He went out and borrowed $787 billion and said if Congress allowed him to borrow that kind of money, that he would hold unemployment below 8%, and it hasn’t been under 8% since.”
- Hey Iowa, Obama lauds agriculture -
PRESIDENT OBAMA AT THE SYMPOSIUM ON GLOBAL AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY IN WASHINGTON: “Food security is a moral imperative, but it's also an economic imperative. History teaches us that one of the most effective ways to pull people and entire nations out of poverty is to invest in their agriculture and as we've seen from Latin America to Africa to Asia, a growing middle class also means growing markets including more customers for American exports that support American jobs so we have a self interest in this.”
- Bono bemoans trendiness in foreign aid -
U2 FRONTMAN AND ACTIVIST, BONO, AT FOOD SECURITY REMARKS ON CAPITOL HILL: “It's not just music that is… subject to the whims of fashion. Development, too. Hunger was kind of off the map in some quarters. Agriculture was old hat in some quarters. Boring. Unsexy. Of course, it's not boring if you live in the Sahel right now.”
- Sebelius talks political compromise after being heckled by protester -
SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES KATHLEEN SEBELIUS AT A GEORGETOWN GRADUATION EVENT: “In some countries around the world it's much easier to make public policy. A leader delivers an edict, it goes into effect. There's no debate, no press, no criticism, no second guessing. Our system is messier, slower, more frustrating and far better and it almost always ends in compromise. The conversations can be painful, but it's through this process of conversation and compromise that we actually move forward together, step by step toward that more perfect union.”
- Powell frets invasion of privacy, talks about parking picture -
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL IN AN INTERVIEW WITH TIME MAGAZINE: “I’m talking about the bathroom. Or my neighborhood mall. I parked my new car slightly at an angle in order to avoid a pole. A student took a picture of that, and he put it online. It went viral, and people said I couldn’t park. The word they used is asshat, a word I’d never heard before.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
During a screening of the new documentary "I am Bruce Lee" at the Motion Picture Association last night, a newly svelte Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. credited the martial arts icon with helping him to shed more than 100 pounds. He also said that Lee was one of the "most influential men in his life."
Jackson also disclosed that he had "Bruce Lee body art" - before quickly adding that he probably shouldn't have admitted that in public. But he did. And Gut Check was there. And our ears perk up when we hear disclaimers like that - especially from politicians.
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