CNN's GUT CHECK | for May 22, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING: Reagan Foundation threatens legal action over blood vial sale –The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation threatened legal action over the online sale of a vial purportedly containing dried blood from the former president following a 1981 assassination attempt. "If indeed this story is true, it's a craven act and we will use every legal means to stop its sale or purchase," said a statement from John Heubusch, the foundation's executive director. Bidding for the vial topped 9,181 pounds (nearly $14,500) as of Tuesday, with two days left in the sale.
FOLLOW THE MONEY: Obama ended April with $115 million in the bank. Romney ended the month with $104 million cash on hand. Details.
On this day in history, what Southern congressman violently beat Sen. Charles Sumner during debate over the expansion of slavery?
That’s the headline of President Barack Obama’s latest campaign e-mail, but it’s also our reaction to it.
The e-mail is a pitch for voters to donate $3 for the chance to win a dinner with Obama and former President Bill Clinton. The letter starts with a young Obama marveling at the 1992 Clinton campaign for president.
“I remember watching his campaign and thinking, ‘Wow, I've never seen a candidate like him.’ I ran for president because we lost our way as a country after President Clinton left the White House. So much of the progress he helped make was rolled back. And so much damage was done - to the middle class, to our reputation abroad, to our shared sense of community. We can't afford to lose our way again - and that's what this election is about.”
What a striking sea change for Barack Obama, the man who ran in 2008 for “turning the page” on the Clinton-era to now try to raise money off Clinton nostalgia.
It is striking to see the change in tone from one presidential season to the next:
New York Daily News, July 5, 2007… “BILL SAYS HIL'S THE FUTURE - BARACK CALLS HER ANCIENT HISTORY”: Bill Clinton crowed that Hillary Clinton has emerged from his shadow as a new leader for America, but Barack and Michelle Obama intimated both the ex-president and former first lady belong to the past. "It's time to turn the page," [Obama] said.
In fact, to rebut the Obama charge, Bill Clinton went on the stump for his wife in Iowa stating, “"I know some people sort of say, Well, you know, look at them, they're old. And they're sort of yesterday's news, you know. Well, yesterday's news was pretty good.”
Perhaps Barack Obama is becoming nostalgic after all.
What Caught YOUR Eye
We asked this question yesterday on our Facebook page: What would win in the 2012 battle of private equity vs. political equity? Judi Purcell wrote “Private equity will win out. Political equity = 0, Private Equity = capitalism and freedom.” Mike G. wrote “Private equity passed on GM. What would Ohio and Michigan look like then?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: 'Other-ness': What Obama and Romney have in common on religion, race
The uproar last week over a proposed campaign ad highlighting President Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, lit up political circles before organizers finally backed off the idea.
Leading Drudge: Senate Dems: Increase Grope Fees
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday moved forward with legislation to increase airline passenger security fees, beating back a GOP attempt to keep them at current levels.
Leading HuffPo: Mitt Romney's Bain Playbook Remains Unclear As Attacks Grow
The core of his presidential candidacy under attack, Mitt Romney has yet to shape a playbook to defend a quarter-century in the business world that created great riches for him and great hardship, at times, for some American workers.
Leading Politico: Democrats wait by phone for President Obama
He doesn’t call. He doesn’t write. He doesn’t drop by for a visit. That’s what some of the most senior Democrats in Congress are experiencing from President Barack Obama these days.
Leading New York Times: Subtler Entry From Masters of Attack Ads
The ad is the work of two of the most fearsome players in Republican politics: Larry McCarthy, the producer behind the infamous Willie Horton commercial in 1988, and Crossroads GPS, the political battle squad founded by Karl Rove.
The political bites of the day
- Romney surrogate: Bain critics 'attacking American way of life' -
JOHN SUNUNU, A ROMNEY SURROGATE, IN A CONFERENCE CALL WITH REPORTERS: “I am amazed at listening to President Obama and Vice President Biden attacking free enterprise in general, and their specific attacks on Bain… The free enterprise system is the American way of life, and when you attack free enterprise, you're attacking the American way of life.
- Utah Senate candidate to Sen. Hatch: You used to debate, why not now? -
DAN LILJENQUIST, A SENATE CANDIDATE FROM UTAH, IN HIS FIRST TELEVISION AD: "Debates play a critical role in Utah elections. Sen. Hatch used to believe this as well… I've issued the same challenge to Sen. Hatch. But now he refuses to debate more than once, and he refuses to debate on television entirely.”
- Biden bringing back plumber to politics; Joe may not be available -
VICE PRSEIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: “When you are president … your job is to think about communities – how they can get back up on their feet, get a new start, creating new businesses. Your job is to try to set up an equitable tax system so that everyone gets a fair shake …your job as president is promote the common good. That doesn’t mean that private equity guys are bad guys. They are not. But that no more qualifies you to be president than being a plumber. And by the way, there are an awful lot of smart plumbers. All kidding aside, it is not the same job requirement. So it is totally legitimate for the president to point this out.”
- Where have you been? McConnell chides Obama on contact with Congress -
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL IN A SPEECH ON THE HOUSE FLOOR: “It [a Politico article] says the Budget Committee chairman can’t remember the last time he talked to the president. The Budget Committee chairman can’t remember the last time he talked to the president. And another chairman dealing with student loans says he hasn’t talked to the president in months. The Democratic point man on energy doesn’t seem to talk to the president at all. [Directed to person presiding over Senate] Madam president, if you want to know why we can’t solve these economic problems, this is it. We have got a president who is more interested in running around to college campuses spreading around some poll-tested message than he is in actually accomplishing anything. That’s the problem.”
- Powell holds OFF endorsing in the 2012 presidential election -
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL IN AN INTERVIEW ON NBC’S “TODAY SHOW”: “I always keep my powder dry, as they say in the military. … It's not just a matter of whether you support Obama or Romney. It's who they have coming in with them.”
Gut Check Flashback… Powell endorses Obama, calling him a “transformational figure,” in 2008 on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “Because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities and we have to take that into account, as well as his substance… I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation coming onto the world stage, the American stage and for that reason I will be voting for Sen. Barack Obama.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Standing at his desk in the Old Senate Chamber, Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was viciously beat by Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina. Brooks, wielding a cane that he needed because of another political debate, beat Sumner so savagely that he was absent from the Senate for three years before he fully recovered.
The stand-off started during debate over the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, a law that gave the two new territories the right to decide the slavery issue by vote. Sumner, a vehement abolitionist, was appalled that slavery could become legal in an area that had banned it for 30 years, so he took to the floor of the Senate for a nearly two-day speech on the issue. In the speech, he directly went after a number of colleagues, including Sen. Andrew P. Butler of South Carolina, who happened to be Brooks’ cousin.
Following the altercation, Brooks resigned from the House, but after word of the fight reverberated throughout the South, Brooks became a hero and was immediately voted back in by his South Carolina constituents. (Many people even sent him canes in appreciation for him standing up for slavery).
In many respects, Brooks’ violent beating of Sumner proved that slavery was an issue that could not even be argued calmly in the Senate. It was a worrying sign for a country that would be fractured by civil war just five years later.
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