CNN's GUT CHECK | for July 13, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING... MITT ROMNEY FACES THE CAMERAS: The presumptive Republican presidential nominee sits down for multiple one-on-one interviews today including with CNN’s Jim Acosta. Romney is facing questions about the timing of his departure from Bain Capital as well as a new round of speculation about who he will choose as his running mate. TUNE IN TO THE SITUATION ROOM AT 6 P.M. ET TO SEE THE FULL INTERVIEW.
What senator is known as Mr. Republican?
On Fridays, we like to learn from analysts and authors about their view of politics from their perch of inquiry. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and The Fix? OK, not in terms of religion, but The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza has a new book out “The Gospel According to the Fix; An Insider’s Guide to a Less than Holy World of Politics.”
Blasphemous? We don’t think so, after all Cillizza is a Georgetown grad. As for politics, Cillizza is one of the smartest reporters on the beat and in his book he has drawn a roadmap for the uninitiated to understand this crazy world of politics that we, in the Gut Check community, eat, breathe and sleep each day.
Why do you describe politics as “less than holy?”
CILLIZZA: I think that many people who don’t work in politics think that it’s all about a battle of high-minded ideas and sacred vows. My goal with the “Gospel” was to pull back the curtain and show people that it’s all about personalities, relationships and, yes, at times, revenge.
You write on a wide range of political topics such as the New Hampshire primary, political ads and how to survive a political sex scandal as well as two little known, yet very powerful political strategists Jennifer Crider and Carl Forti. What do you hope the reader takes away from the book?
CILLIZZA: I hope people feel the passion I have about politics jumping up from the pages of the “Gospel”. I LOVE this stuff — the stats, the people, the strategies, the good, the bad — and I want people to see politics through the eyes of a passionate follower of it.
In the first chapter you make a declarative statement that is not going to win you many fans in Iowa. You write that Michele Bachmann’s victory in the Ames Straw Poll in 2011 and subsequent sixth place showing in the Iowa Caucus “ends the Ames straw poll as a barometer of much of anything in Iowa politics.” Are you saying the straw poll is history?
CILLIZZA: The days of the straw poll as an early indicator of grassroots strength and/or a predictive measure for the Iowa caucuses are over. I don’t think that means that the straw poll will end or even that candidates and some members of the media won’t follow it closely. But, I think we’ve long known that an event where candidates can pay for their supporters to attend isn’t exactly a direct corollary to an actual vote.
You also state that Republicans are headed for electoral oblivion? Why? Can they head it off?
CILLIZZA: Republicans have a Hispanic problem. It’s no big secret. Virtually every Republican strategist and, privately, virtually every Republican politician will acknowledge it. You can’t lose the fastest-growing demographic group in the country by 30 points and expect to be a majority party. Republicans inability to win over Hispanics might not keep Mitt Romney from the Oval Office this year, but it is a major problem for them in 2016 and 2020. Can they head it off? Sure. But, they have to stop emphasizing the “deport them all now” kind of rhetoric they adopted during the GOP presidential primary.
What is missing in politics?
CILLIZZA: Fun. I think we need to be able to see that politics is the highest stakes game in the world, but that there are both sublime and ridiculous elements to it. Hopefully, reading the “Gospel” will make people chuckle — and give politics a chance.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: John King: Why is 1999 so important in 2012?
At issue is whether Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is telling the truth when he says he had no role in investment and operations decisions at Bain Capital once he left in February 1999 to take over the Salt Lake City Olympic Games. – John King
Leading Drudge: Romney Narrows VP Choices; Condi Emerges As Front-runner
Late Thursday evening, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign launched a new fundraising drive, 'Meet The VP' - just as Romney himself has narrowed the field of candidates to a handful, sources reveal. And a surprise name is now near the top of the list: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Leading HuffPo: Mitt Romney's Own 2002 Testimony Undermines Bain Departure Claim
Mitt Romney's repeated claim that he played no part in executive decision-making related to Bain Capital after 1999 is false, according to Romney's own testimony in June 2002, in which he admitted to sitting on the board of the LifeLike Co., a dollmaker that was a Bain investment during the period. – Jason Cherkis and Ryan Grim
Leading Politico: The GOP’s crush on Condoleezza Rice
The Condoleezza Rice mirage is back. With a banner headline on the Drudge Report Thursday night proclaiming her a leading prospect for the vice presidency, Rice has returned to a familiar role: the irresistible, all-too-perfect fantasy candidate of the Republican Party. – Alexander Burns
Leading New York Times: Candidates Racing for Future, Gaze Fixed Firmly on the Past
At a time when the country faces an uncertain future economically and internationally, the conversation in the capital and on the campaign trail has dwelled largely on the past as the two contenders for the White House and their allies spend their time and energy re-litigating old fights rather than focusing on new ideas for the next four years. – Peter Baker
The political bites of the day
- Obama promises comprehensive immigration reform… again -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN VIRGINIA: “Mr. Romney says that undocumented workers should self-deport. My belief is we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. I want to make sure that we get comprehensive immigration reform that gives young people a chance to live out their own American dream.”
Gut Check Flashback… Then-candidate Obama pledged to make immigration a priority in his first term during his 2008 campaign: “The American people need us to put an end to the petty partisanship that passes for politics in Washington. And they need us to enact comprehensive immigration reform once and for all. We can’t wait 20 years from now to do it, we can’t wait 10 years from now to do it, we need to do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.”
- ‘Pro-life, pro-family’ activists concerned about Condi -
FRANK CANNON, PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN PRINCIPLES PROJECT, IN A STATEMENT ON THE POSSIBILITY THAT CONDOLEEZZA RICE WILL BE ROMNEY’S VP PICK: “This is a decision that goes beyond politics. We believe Governor Romney is a man of his word. Our next vice president will be decisively pro-life and pro-family.”
Gut Check Context… At a September 5, 2011, forum in South Carolina, Romney was asked about where his VP choice would come down on abortion and same-sex marriage:
Professor Robert George: Governor Romney, will the person you chose as your vice presidential running mate be someone who shares your pro-life and pro-marriage convictions?
Romney: I certainly imagine so, I haven’t made any selections in that regard … [as I look around at the people I would consider] I would expect that they would all be pro-life and pro-traditional marriage … but this is an important enough issue that the person that I would select in that position would share my views on those important issues.
George: So more than just expectation — would share those views?
Romney: Yes … that person would share my views, yeah.
- Outrage continues over American Olympic outfits being made in China -
NEW YORK REP. STEVE ISRAEL IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “The Olympic committee and all Americans appreciate the hard work, the dedication, and the skill of our athletes. They are inspiring. But I think the Olympic committee should appreciate the hard work, the dedication, and the skill of American manufacturers, which are not only inspiring, but in a demand economy need that contract.”
- Biden makes sex joke, Obama must be cringing -
JAY LENO JOKES ABOUT THE OBAMA-BIDEN RELATIONSHIP ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Well, Vice President Joe Biden made a sex joke during a speech yesterday. And he referred to the house he grew up in. And you know, they didn't have much money. And he said, Joe Biden said, "The walls were very thin, and I wondered how my parents ever did it." You get the feeling that every time Joe Biden speaks, President Obama wishes Biden’s parents never really did do it.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
The history of Ohio Sen. Robert A. Taft’s nickname – Mr. Republican – is fairly scattered. But what is known is that by the early 1950s, Taft, who was known for being the main spokesperson for conservatism in the Senate, began to be called “Mr. Republican.”
Taft, who ran for president in 1940, 1948 and 1952, was a fixture in the Senate from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. During his time in the Senate, Taft spearheaded efforts to lessen the power of labor unions and wrote the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. He also rallied against an interventionist foreign policy and opposed the U.S. getting involved in World War II.
According to political writer Robert Merry, the early 1950s were the "days of Taft's greatest glory." The reason, says Merry, is that Taft became a close confidant and political ally of then-President (and former presidential opponent) Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“In the first months of his term, he enjoyed a good relationship with Eisenhower,” states a U.S. Senate page dedicated to Taft. “The president and Senate majority leader became close, working together on policies that easily earned congressional approval. For once, Taft did not have to mastermind strategies to pass or block controversial legislation.”
Because of his power and prominence, Taft was named a member of the “Famous Five,” a group of five senators who were considered the greatest statesmen of all time. Along with Taft, the group included Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and Robert La Follette.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congratulations to Brian Dawson (@heybriandawson) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia Question. Dawson, whose Twitter account says he hails from Charlottesville, Virginia, quickly tweeted Bob Taft, the famous Ohio Republican. Dawson beat out Gut Check’s Mr. Ohio – Jonathan Gormley (@JonathanGormley) – which we assume means Gormley will be asked to leave the Buckeye State.
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