CNN's GUT CHECK for August 1, 2012
August 1st, 2012
04:46 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for August 1, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 1, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING:POSTAL SERVICE COULD RUN OUT OF CASH IN OCTOBER Without help from Congress, the Postal Service will not only default on payments for retiree health care benefits, but it could lack cash for operations by mid-October. As of midnight Wednesday, the Postal Service will be in default - for the first time in its history - on a $5.5 billion payment owed the federal government to prepay health care benefits for retirees. – Jennifer Liberto

(Answer below)
What television station launched on this day in history and revolutionized two areas of business?

MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

Remember all that talk about how much the Obama campaign was spending?

The strategic decision to spend heavily quickly, despite being outraised, was a much debated decision. Obama loyalists argued that it was campaigning 101: Define your opponent before he defines himself.

Looking at a new round of swing state polls, it appearsthe ad and campaigning barrage against Mitt Romney might be working. Former Gov. Ted Strickland told Ohio voters on Wednesday, “One thing really bothers me above all else about Mr. Romney. He wants to be the president of this country. He wants the American people to trust him with the presidency. And he refuses to trust the American people with his income tax returns. I am personally convinced that Mitt Romney has concluded that there is something in his income tax returns that would be a deal breaker with the American people.”

Similarly, the Obama campaign ad “Firms” pounds at Romney’s central tenet of economic trust and stability, writing on the screen, “In business, Mitt Romney's firms shipped jobs to Mexico. And China. As governor, Romney outsourced jobs to India. He had millions in a Swiss bank account. Tax havens like Bermuda. And the Cayman Islands. Mitt Romney's not the solution. He's the problem.”

That advertisement has run 2,079 times in Ohio alone. And it was only released 18 days ago.

As for electoral implications in Ohio, Obama tops Romney 50% – 44% among likely voters in the new Quinnipiac Poll. Among Romney voters, 42% strongly favor him while 35% like him with reservations and 22% say they are voting against Obama.

Obama has a 51% – 45% favorability rating. Romney gets a 40% favorable rating and a 43% unfavorable score.

This strategy of go in fast and fierce was one employed by Harry Reid in his 2010 Senate race against Sharron Angle. In their post-election memo, duly entitled, “Harry Reid: Withstanding the Wave,” Mark Mellman and Jim Margolis laid out the strategy that helped Reid win his seat on a night that CNN’s John King – and later President Obama - dubbed a “shellacking” for the rest of the Democratic Party:

Disqualifying our opponent was central to our strategy. Having studied Democratic failures in Massachusetts and New Jersey during 2009, we concluded that once challengers picked up a head of steam in this climate, stopping them was exponentially more difficult. We therefore resolved to begin to define our opponent immediately after the primary. To that end we tested arguments against each of our potential adversaries in polling before the primary and developed a “first line of attack” against each. Thus, when Sharron Angle emerged victorious from the primary, we were immediately on the air with a devastating attack highlighting her view that Social Security and Medicare should be wiped out.”

The next paragraph is the one that the folks in Boston should surely read, “As a result, [Angle’s] unfavorable ratings skyrocketed, jumping to 52%, up 32 points between March and August. As we moved into the fall, the foundation had been laid to take Angle’s extreme positions to a new level: dangerous.”

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: In key counties of Ohio, swing state politics have real-life impact
Ohio is a fascinating county-by-county chess game. Republicans don't expect to carry Summit County, for example, but Romney won't have a prayer statewide unless he improves on Sen. John McCain's weak 41% performance here in 2008. With so much TV ad money being spent here, LaRose argues there will be a "saturation point," and that Ohio in the end will be decided on the strength of grassroots organizing. – John King

Leading Drudge: Olympic Shock: Playing To Lose!
The disqualification of eight women badminton players from the London Olympics for 'throwing' their matches to secure a more favorable draw sent shockwaves through the tournament on Wednesday, and prompted cries of injustice from team officials. – Ian Ransom

Leading HuffPo: 2012 Election Gaffes Fuel Media Obsession, Leading To Scripted Campaigns
Reporters complain that Romney's too robotic and Obama's too detached. But given that media's extensive coverage of gaffes so far, including at The Huffington Post, the chances of unscripted moments or off-the-cuff question-and-answer sessions seem likely to grow more remote from now until November. Reporters, in short, may be facilitating the very reality they detest. – Michael Calderone and Sam Stein

Leading Politico: Move over, Marco Rubio: Ted Cruz's star rises
Move over, Marco Rubio: there’s another national Latino star-in-the-making likely headed to Washington. Ted Cruz’s resounding win over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Texas Republican Senate runoff Tuesday night positions the 41-year-old, Ivy League-educated Cuban-American to become a force to be reckoned with in the nation’s capitol — an overnight A-lister of Republicans to watch. – David Cantanese

Leading The New York Times: New Polls Show Obama Has Edge in 3 Battleground States
President Obama is struggling to convince voters that he deserves to win re-election based on his handling of the economy, but his empathy and personal appeal give him an edge over Mitt Romney in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, according to Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News polls. – Jeff Zeleny

The political bites of the day

- Boehner tries to put sequestration, taxes in the lap of the Dems -
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER AT HIS WEEKLY CAPITOL HILL PRESS CONFERENCE: “Listen, President Obama said that small business tax hikes threaten our economy. Frankly, the Democrats' sequester threatens our national security. By the end of the week, Republicans will be the only ones in this town which will have addressed both of those threats. The only question now is will Senate Democrats work with us and follow us to remove these two giant threats that face the American people and frankly face our economy.”

- Obama accuses Romney of personally wanting a tax cut -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN OHIO: “Here's the thing, he's not asking you to contribute more to pay down the deficit, or to invest in our kids' education. He's asking you to pay more so that people like him can get a tax cut.”

­- Graham calls sequestration ‘the dumbest idea in the history of the Congress’ -
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM IN AN INTERVIEW ON FOX NEWS: “The Congress and the White House jointly have created the dumbest idea in the history of the Congress known for dumb ideas,” Graham said. “They don’t want to put the public on notice.”

- Gut Check loves a Hank Williams Jr. joke -
STEPHEN COLBERT JOKES ABOUT ROMNEY’S TRIP ABROAD ON HIS LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Of course the liberal media has been hammering Mitt throughout the trip for a couple of hiccups, like when he offended Palestinians by suggesting they aren't prosperous because of their culture and offended the English when he questioned whether London was ready for the Olympics. Why is that controversial? Every week Hank Williams Jr. questioned if Americans were ready for some football. Come on. Double standards.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less








“I heard you on the wireless back in Fifty Two. Lying awake intent at tuning in on you.”

Those lyrics, sung by “The Buggles,” kicked off the newly minted Music Television station on this day in 1981. The actual first words uttered on MTV were delivered by the channel’s creator, John Lack. “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” he said.

MTV went on to revolutionize the recording and television industries, with record labels starting to invest huge sums of money into heavily produced music videos.

Fast forward to 2012 and critics have begun attacking MTV for not living up to its founding or its name. With a bulk of airtime now devoted to reality television programming, watching a music video on MTV is a rarity.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to Dave Stroup (@DaveStroup) for winning today’s Gut Check Trivia. Some CNN swag may or may not be on his way.

Our inbox awaits:
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Tips or comments? Send them to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood. We also want to give a shout out to Dan Merica, who runs our Twitter account @gutCheckCNN and enriches this product every single day.

Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Ken

    Obama has as much if not more to hide than Romney, it's just that the media flat out refuses to look into it. So from where I sit, Obama can blow smoke all he wants, but I'm not buying it.

    August 1, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  2. Al

    The only strategy of Obama is to try and keep his reign and continue to lie to the people that will sit by and listen to him and think that defrauding the tax payers is an acceptable way of life. Think about it, Obama used to provide advice to ACORN who was dedicated to defrauding the government of tax payer money for their personal use. Thus taxing and taking from the working to move the working peoples money forward to the undeserving is his strategy, and nothing else. Where are the jobs he talked about, where is the debt reduction he talked about. There are no jobs, and the jobs are part time with no benefits so the company does not have to fall into the "affordable health care" law, it only requires companies to pay for full time employees if the company even continues to offer health care. And the debt, we all know which way the debt went, now some will still say it's Bush fault and frankly those people are just full of you know what as the ruler of this country. Obama is right it is time of a change, and Obama needs to move forward with his packing and move back to where ever he want so long as it's not in my White House, now he can paint his house any color he want he just needs to move out of the tax payers house.

    August 1, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  3. panorain

    Axelrod: Sir, we are surrounded!

    Obama: Excellent! We can attack in any direction now!

    August 1, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  4. bspurloc

    tax returns please. U can show us the short form and we wont whine and cry like u did about Obamas birth certificate and when u got th ein the face long form claim it was forged.
    Let us see 08 07 tax returns and how much mittnes made off Iranian Oil

    August 1, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  5. JO

    The purpose of our taxes (or our government) is not to redistribute wealth. We supposedly pay taxes for needed infrastructure. All of this complaining about tax cuts for higher tax brackets is laughable. Regardless if the rich pay 1-2% taxes less or more, they still pay a higher tax % than anyone else. Even if the tax percentages were absolutely equal across the board, which by definition is "fair", the more money you make, the more you would pay. But it isn't equal, it's progressive. So now the tax system is set up so that you pay exponentially higher taxes based on how much money you make, and yet people STILL complain it's not enough. That's entitlement and jealousy if I've ever seen it.

    August 1, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  6. JFK2112

    Yeay, a poll that has 8% more democrats than the GOP. Obama'a done.

    August 1, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  7. Don66

    Is the President's strategy working? Those recent Quinnipac polls in the all-important swing states seem to point to success for the President. Well, polls are just polls.

    Perhaps we should ask Bin Laden if the President's strategy is working?

    Perhaps we should ask any worker whose 401k retirement is enjoying a 40 month stock market rally and over 100% in Dow and Nasdaq market returns since March 2009?

    Its looking like a landslide to me – especially after M!tt continues to refuse to show us his income tax returns and fumbled the ball in every country he visited this week.

    August 1, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Republican Grandma

    Please every one! Give Romney a break! He needs that. Can't you look at his nose? It grows day by day just like  Pinocchio. LOL

    August 1, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  9. Dr. Fricke

    I'm not sure the strategy is working – as indicated by the more reliable polls like Rasmussen. This campaign hasn't really even started yet. Nevertheless, it seems like both campaigns are up to the task (unlike McCain's last time around.)

    August 1, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  10. Susan Devine

    I think the real reason the issue of Romney's refusal to release his tax returns won't go away is because Romney himself has said that he will pay for his proposed massive tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans by eliminating tax loopholes. But which ones will he eliminate? HE REFUSES TO SAY. Which raises the obvious question: will he close the loopholes that HE uses to hide millions in foreign accounts and offshore tax shelters? Or does he only intend to eliminate deductions and credits that OTHER people use., e.g., the ones that middle-class families rely on?

    This is why Romney's secrecy is so maddening: We have no idea if his tax plan is a shamefully self-serving one that keeps the loopholes used by millionaires like him while cutting the ones used by middle-class families, since he refuses to release his returns (even his 2010 one is incomplete) and since he refuses to say anything SPECIFIC about his tax plan.

    This seems to be his strategy: Just don't say anything, don't admit to anything, don't divulge any specifics about anything–and hope that people just dislike the President enough to vote for anyone else.

    August 1, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. Hillcrester

    As Bysh the Elder might have put it, Romney is in deep doo-doo.

    He's pandered to Jewish voters by telling Israelis they have superior culture–we see through that.

    The US should emulate Polish economic policies? With their 12% unemployment rate!

    Our "special relationship" with Britain means dissing them because they aren't managing the Olympics the way rural Salt Lake City did?

    And this poseur wants to be President? No wonder FL, PA, and OH voters are favoring Obama!

    August 1, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  12. Zippy

    What strategy is that?
    Divert attention from actual issue, blame everybody else and buy as many votes as possible?
    No, not really since pretty much everybody has already made up their mind. Not much point in campaigning, really.

    August 2, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  13. Anna

    Obama's only strategy is to keep Soros happy, now if you had asked is Soro's strategy is workig I would say depends on his puppet – oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive and deception is te priority of the Obama "team"

    August 2, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  14. MikeB

    “Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and given him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the “new wonderful good society” which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean "more money, more ease, more security, and more living fatly at the expense of the industrious".”
    ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

    Just substitute Caesar with Obama and Rome with U.S.A.

    August 2, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  15. lies from obama (and mabye his father)

    RIP USPS. Hopfuly we can snag a president who lowers spending so all you money does not get sucked out faster a vaccum cleaner with 'roid rage.

    August 2, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  16. Michael

    Romney has proven this past week that he is NOT ready for Prime Time– and certainly NOT ready for the Oval Office!

    August 2, 2012 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  17. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    What a plan... What a plan !!!

    NO work required !!!

    You did NOT build that...
    Government did !

    "I" The have endorsement of Bill Clinton

    This guy stabbed "MY" wife in the back !
    VOTE OBAMA "HE" is a great Guy !!!
    TRUST ME !!! -:)

    August 2, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  18. Scott

    Well Obama continues his campaign of lies and unlawful actions , now he is telling defense contractors not to send out layoff notices 60 days in advance as required by law. Have we ever had a bigger crook then Obama in office. All signs of a campaign that is in trouble and knowing come November they are going to lose.

    Romney/Rubio 2012 for a better America.

    August 2, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
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