CNN's GUT CHECK | for July 6, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: RAISING MONEY OFF OF HUMBLE PIE … Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina in an email to supporters minutes ago: “Friend - Romney and the Republicans announced yesterday that they brought in more than $100 million in June. For context, that's about what we raised in April and May combined…”
What former president will be celebrating his birthday today?
On Fridays, we like to learn from analysts and authors about their view of politics from their perch of inquiry. Today, we talked to Manuel Roig-Franzia (@RoigFranzia), veteran Washington Post reporter and author of "The Rise of Marco Rubio."
First, we enjoyed reading both your Washington Post column debunking the “5 Myths about Marco Rubio,” and then the book itself. We were struck by some of the stories you told that went against conventional wisdom; It made us wonder: What surprised you the most in researching Marco Rubio?
ROIG-FRANZIA: Thanks. Appreciate you saying that. A great deal surprised me. I was fascinated about Rubio’s pattern of finding “interior passageways” to power - such as volunteering to work behind the scenes on a redistricting committee as a young Florida legislator - and his ability to identify political mentors who could help lift him to the next level. I came to think of him as a kind of “professional apprentice.”
My research about the senator’s long history of working in the trenches of Florida’s Republican establishment blew up any mythology that might have been lingering in my mind that he was somehow a creation of the tea party.
I was also surprised to learn about his family history - the fact that his parents had come to the United States two-and-half years before Castro, even though he’d been saying they came to the United States after Castro, as well as the wrenching saga of his grandfather who was ordered deported from the United States.
How is he different from other politicians you have covered?
ROIG-FRANZIA: Rubio has that almost indefinable quality that sets apart the superstars from the also-rans. Call it whatever you like: mojo, X-factor. There’s just something about him. The people who love him sense it and love him more for it, and the people who despise him sense it too.
In reading the book, we were amazed at how Rubio weaves ambition with loyalty. Is it that the loyalty hasn’t been tested too much yet - or is he just really smart in picking mentors/bosses/alliances?
ROIG-FRANZIA: Jeb Bush is one of the most important mentors in Rubio’s development as a political figure. Talk to anyone in Florida and they’ll tell you that Jeb Bush values loyalty, perhaps above all.
Being loyal has created some headaches for Rubio in the past, and it could cause him distress in the future. He got beat up for not acting fast enough to punish a close political ally who was accused of using a racial epithet to describe an African-American school leader. (Rubio eventually took punitive action against his ally and defended himself by saying that he lacked authority and was allowing the investigative process to proceed.)
He’s also remained staunchly loyal to Congressman David Rivera, a longtime friend and ally who is under federal investigation on corruption charges, according to media reports. Rubio’s friendship with Rivera is often cited as a potential liability that could scare off vice presidential vetting teams.
What do you make of the events the day your book came out? ABC reported that Marco Rubio was not being vetted for vice president … many hours later, Mitt Romney himself, who had said he would not comment on his VP search, stated that he was indeed vetting the senator. What did you make of that oddly public back and forth?
ROIG-FRANZIA: That was fascinating. The impassioned reaction to the report that Rubio was not being vetted was a clear affirmation of the following he's developed and how incredibly prominent he has become in the Republican Party. And former Governor Romney’s extraordinary statement that Rubio was being vetted - not the kind of thing presidential candidates typically reveal - was even more affirmation of the same. Like Rubio or hate him, the message was clear: he’s a force.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Obama downplays weak jobs report; Romney blames him
President Barack Obama downplayed a weak jobs report Friday as he wrapped up a two-day bus tour to critical states in the November election, while Republicans pounced on the news to declare the president's policies have failed. – Tom Cohen
Leading Drudge: O No: 8.2%
The U.S. economy created just 80,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate held steady at 8.2%, reflecting continued slow growth in the economy with the presidential election just four months away. – Jeff Cox
Leading HuffPo: No Child Left Behind Waivers Granted To More Than Half Of U.S. States
The states of Washington and Wisconsin will be allowed to wiggle out of No Child Left Behind's rigorous test requirements, joining two dozen other U.S. states that have already agreed to waivers that require them to adopt the Obama administration's education agenda instead, the U.S. Education Department will announce today. – Joy Resmovits
Leading Politico: Zombie economy threatens Obama
The dismal June jobs report immediately yanked the focus of the presidential campaign back to the economy — and the reality that President Barack Obama’s hopes for a second term depend on overcoming an idling economy and a jobless rate that have proven fatal for incumbents. – Ben White and Alexander Burns
Leading New York Times: Romney and Republicans Assail Obama Over Weak Jobs Report
Republicans quickly seized on the third month of slow job growth to assail President Obama’s handling of the economy. – Michael Shear
The political bites of the day
- The tax debate, of the health care variety -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH WLTW IN OHIO: “The fact that a whole bunch of Republicans in Washington suddenly said that this is a tax. For six years, he (Romney) said it wasn't and now he's suddenly reversed himself. So the question becomes: Are you doing that because of politics? Are you abandoning the principle that you fought for six years simply because you're getting pressure for two days?”
- Romney on jobs: ‘It doesn’t have to be this way’ -
MITT ROMNEY SPEAKING TO THE MEDIA IN WOLFEBORO, NEW HAMPSHIRE: “The president's policies have not gotten America working again, and the president's going to have to stand up and take responsibility for it. I know he's been planning on going across the country and celebrating what he calls forward. Well forward doesn't look a lot like forward to the millions and millions of families that are struggling today in this great country. It doesn't have to be this way.”
- Huntsman not attending any GOP conventions until party changes -
GOV. JON HUNTSMAN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE: “I will not be attending this year’s convention, nor any Republican convention in the future, until the party focuses on a bigger, bolder, more confident future for the United States - a future based on problem solving, inclusiveness and a willingness to address the trust deficit, which is every bit as corrosive as our fiscal and economic deficits.”
- Gut Check Flashback: Jon Huntsman, January 16, 2012: “Today, I am suspending my campaign for the presidency. I believe it is now time for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat Barack Obama. Despite our differences and the space between us on some of the issues, I believe that candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney.”
- Kaine opposes sequestration in military-heavy Virginia -
TIM KAINE, VIRGINIA’S DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE, IN A STATEMENT ON THE JUNE JOB NUMBERS: “Just this week, we learned the impending sequestration cuts, made necessary because of the disastrous fiscal policies my opponent supported, could cost the nation one million jobs. We simply cannot trust the same fiscal wrecking crew that was handed a balanced budget and turned it into a mess of deficits and runaway spending to rebuild our economy. Now more than ever, we need leaders with the experience and the resolve to make the forward-looking decisions to strengthen our economy and restore fiscal balance. As Governor during the worst recession since the Great Depression, I balanced Virginia's budget while making historic investments in education and transportation and recruiting new corporations to our Commonwealth. That's the experience I'll take to Washington.”
- Allen reacts to job numbers, contrasts himself with Kaine -
GEORGE ALLEN, VIRGINIA’S REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE, IN A STATEMENT ON THE JUNE JOB NUMBERS: “It’s clear to everyone but those in Washington that we need proven, pro-job growth solutions that put our trust in people, not government. As Senator, my top priorities would include tax relief for job-creating businesses, repealing the burdensome health care tax law, and allowing Virginia to develop our offshore energy resources with the royalties used for roads and transportation. We need leadership in Washington that will give job-creators the freedom and certainty they need to invest, grow and hire more workers.”
GUT CHECK DVR
(What we will be watching on Sunday)
CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley has exclusive interviews with Robert Gibbs, a chief strategist for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Gut Check is wondering if it will be “Happy birthday, dear George,” or “Happy birthday, dear Dubya.”
Born on July 6, 1946, George W. Bush turns 66 today. The former president and his wife, Laura, have spent the last few days working with their foundation in Zambia and Botswana.
In his last day in Botswana, a group of toddlers at the Gambane Community Home sang “Happy Birthday” to the former president.
While in Zambia, the Bushes helped refurbish a clinic used to screen, diagnose and treat cervical cancer in Kabwe, Zambia, and designated a cancer center at a university’s teaching hospital in Lusaka, the capital city.
In Botswana, Bush helped launch similar programs aiming to combat cancer. The trip is part of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative spearheaded and organized by Bush’s foundation.
During his presidency, Bush focused on AIDS prevention in Africa and is credited with providing antiretroviral drugs to millions of people. Analysts have said that his health initiatives offer a chance to make the case that his foreign policy legacy should not be judged on the Iraq War alone.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congratulations to congressional softball MVP and DC karaoke legend Abby Livingston (@RollCallAbby) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Abby, a former CNNer, was quick and to the point with her answer of “GWB!” Congrats Abby. We would send you CNN swag, but after working here for more than a year, do you really need it?
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