CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for July 18, 2012 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
JUST IN ... TIM PAWLENTY MAKES HIS CASE, SAYS FLASHINESS DOESN’T GAS UP YOUR CAR:
Neil Cavuto: How would you defend yourself from that criticism that maybe Mitt Romney needs a flashy running mate?
Tim Pawlenty: Well, I would just say this. We have a lot of people who are entertaining, who can light their hair on fire or whatever, but the bottom line is these are serious times, we need seasoned experienced people who get the job done and if you look at my record in Minnesota in terms of cutting taxes, reducing spending….
Neil Cavuto: Who lights their hair on fire, who are you talking about?
Tim Pawlenty: I’m just saying, we don’t need a …
Neil Cavuto: Chris Christie? Does Chris Christie light his hair on fire?
Tim Pawlenty: No, I’m talking about Barack Obama. Barack Obama gives us this soaring rhetoric last time, soaring rhetoric, and it turned out to be a bunch of empty promises.
Neil Cavuto: I see what you’re saying, go the other way. They’d go the other way. They’d embrace non-flashy.
Tim Pawlenty: Well, I’d also say, relative to who? I’m not as flashy as some, but compared to some others, I think I’m right in there. But nonetheless, I’m not defending it one way or the other. I’m just saying, people - rhetoric and teleprompter and jokes and that kind of stuff doesn’t put gas in our cars. It doesn’t pay our mortgage. It doesn’t pay our health insurance premiums. People are hurting. We’ve got neighbors and friends and loved ones who have given up hope. The country is ailing and headed in the wrong direction and we shouldn’t be debating who is going to be an entertainer in chief. We should be debating who can get this country moving again on the foundations values that made it a great success….
Neil Cavuto: Can you sing? …
Tim Pawlenty: No, I can’t sing very well. I’m sorry. (From Fox News' "Your World")
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Romney tries to dislodge Obama from attack
New ads from the presidential campaigns encapsulate where the race stands, with President Barack Obama's camp continuing its assault on his challenger over Mitt Romney’s business record and refusal to share tax records, and Romney trying to make allegations of cronyism knock the incumbent off the assault. – Paul Steinhauser, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak
Leading Drudge: Canadians Now Richer Than Americans
While Americans might enjoy throwing politically-charged barbs at their neighbors to the north, Canadians now have at least one reason to be smug. For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American, according to a report cited in Toronto's Globe and Mail. – Meg Handley
Leading HuffPo: They’re Just Not That Into You
Months after he mathematically locked up the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney remains a political hairball that GOP insiders - conservative and otherwise - wish they could cough up before the convention in Tampa, Florida, next month. – Howard Fineman
Leading Politico: Awkward: Obama jobs panel MIA
President Barack Obama’s Jobs Council hasn’t met publicly for six months, even as the issue of job creation dominates the 2012 election.
At this point, the hiatus — which reached the half-year mark Tuesday — might be less awkward than an official meeting, given the hornets’ nest of issues that could sting Obama and the council members if the private-sector panel gets together. – Josh Gerstein
Leading New York Times: Barrier to Romney Tax Disclosure Is the Candidate Himself
Mitt Romney has said it every way he can: He is not releasing any more of his tax returns. Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is facing millions of dollars in searing ads from President Obama and a rising chorus of puzzled Republicans, all urging him to reveal more of his financial history. – Michael D. Shear
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met on Tuesday with President Barack Obama regarding the largest drought to hit the U.S. in over a decade. In what year was the Department of Agriculture founded and who was its first head?
MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics
If only... Mitt Romney had succumbed to pressure from his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination to release his tax returns in January, this issue wouldn’t be The Issue 111 days before Election Day.
That is, of course, unless Romney’s campaign advisers think that the information within his past tax returns would be more damaging politically if it were made public than the heat he is currently taking for refusing to release them.
It is the calls by Republicans for the release of the tax returns and precedent set by his father that is really dogging Romney. When his father George Romney ran for president in 1967, he made a point to release 12 years of his tax returns. “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show,” George Romney said at the time.
Seven months ago, in an effort to derail Romney’s candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich each demanded Romney release his returns during the GOP primary and warned of the consequences if he didn’t.
“Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you made your money,” Perry said during a debate on Fox in January. “I think that's a fair thing. Listen, here's the real issue for us, as Republicans, we cannot fire our nominee in September. We need to know now.”
A day earlier, Gingrich said the same thing in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I think Governor Romney, if he plans to, to stay in the race, ought to plan to release his records because he'll never get through the fall without releasing his records, and it's better to do it in the primary season so the country understands what's going on and not wait and be surprised in September,” Gingrich said in the January 15 interview.
Romney answered his rivals’ calls to release more returns during the CNN Southern Republican Debate in South Carolina, although he offered little specifics about what he would make public and instead defended himself for being successful. “You know, I don’t know how many years Ill release,” Romney said in response to a question by CNN’s John King. “I’ll take a look at what our documents are and I’ll release multiple years. I don’t know how many years, but I’ll be happy to do that.”
Romney has released two years of returns so far, and as of now it doesn’t appear as if he will release more. If you look up the definition of multiple in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Romney has fulfilled his pledge to release more than one year.
But politics in the general election is not about fulfilling a pledge he made in January, but rather facing the political reality of the current state of play. The drumbeat from multiple Republicans in the past few weeks (Haley Barbour, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Bill Kristol, Rep. Ron Paul and George Will) has added to the pressure on Romney to release more information and has increased speculation on why he is choosing not to do so.
However, today, Romney got some rare support for his decision to keep this information private. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, colorfully told reporters this morning: “The American people are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ They’re not asking, ‘Where in the hell the tax returns are?’”
The political bites of the day
- Boehner uses profanity to bash Obama on middle class -
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER ON OBAMA: “I think the president’s attack on the private sector in America is exactly what’s wrong with this administration. Doesn’t give a damn about the middle class Americans who are out there looking for work. What he’s trying to do is distract the American people in order to win his own reelection.”
- White House responds -
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING: “I had not heard that comment. I would simply say that the president’s focus from day one in office has been on the middle class, has been on restoring the security that had been eroding for the middle class for a decade in this country. All of his domestic initiatives are focused principally on the middle class.”
- Syria “spinning out of control,” Panetta says -
DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA BRIEFING REPORTERS: “It's obvious that, that what is happening in Syria represents a real escalation in the fighting and that all of the concerns that we've expressed about the need for Assad to step down, the need for a peaceful transition, the need to achieve a peaceful solution, that by ignoring those appeals by the international community, that the violence there has only gotten worse and the loss of life has only increased - which tells us that this is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control.”
- Weiner’s non-Shermanesque statement -
IN INTERVIEW WITH PEOPLE MAGAZINE, FORMER REP. ANTHONY WEINER DOES NOT DENY NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL INTEREST: “I can’t say absolutely that I will never run for public office again, but I’m very happy in my present life. I’m not doing anything to plan a campaign…. The only next dramatic steps I'm planning on are [6-month-old son] Jordan's first.”
- Bush has “no desire for fame and power any more” -
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE HOOVER INSTITUTION: “Eight years was awesome, and I was famous and I was powerful but I have no desire for fame and power any more. I don’t want to undermine our president, whoever is president, and a former president can do that, and I think it’s bad for the presidency itself. And so I’m pretty content. The afterlife – really what she [his wife, Laura] should have said was we’re now getting ready to start a new chapter in our life - afterlife being the afterlife of the presidency - but afterlife kind of gives the sense that you’re dead. And I have found that life after the presidency is awesome.”
- Note to Veep Wannabees: Woo Ann Romney -
ANN ROMNEY TALKS TO ABC NEWS: “We are certainly talking a lot. This last week, this last weekend, there was a lot of discussion…. There was a lot of talk. We're not quite there yet. And we're going to be there soon.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act establishing the Department of Agriculture in May, 1862. The next year, Commissioner of Agriculture Isaac Newton submitted his first report to the president, waxing poetic on the importance of agriculture to the nation:
Agriculture furnishes the food of the nation, the raw materials of manufactures, and the cargoes of domestic and foreign commerce. It is the cause and the evidence of true civilization; for, when tillage, begins barbarism ends, and the various arts commence. When agriculture prospers, all other interests prosper. When this fails, depression, panic, ruin, ensue. The surplus of agriculture not only allows the farmer to pay his debts and accumulate wealth, but also does the same for the nation. To increase this surplus, therefore, to develop and bring out the vast resources of our soil, and thus create new additional capital, should be the great object of the Department of Agriculture and of legislation.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it?)
Several answers to our trivia question correctly identified the year 1862, but misidentified the first head of the Department of Agriculture. Norman J. Coleman was the first secretary of agriculture, but the first person to head the department was Newton.
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