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
What television station launched on this day in history and revolutionized two areas of business?
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.”
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.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(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.
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