It's Time for CNN's Political Gut Check
August 9th, 2012
05:38 PM ET
9 years ago

It's Time for CNN's Political Gut Check

CNN's POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for August 9, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING… NEW CNN POLL SHOWS ATTACK ADS TAKING TOLL ON ROMNEY … A CNN/ORC International Poll finds that “Mitt Romney's unfavorables are up, most Americans think he favors the rich, and Americans no longer believe that the economy will get better if he is elected - all signs that a summer of negative campaigning on the part of the Democrats seems to be taking its toll on the presumptive GOP nominee.” Full Poll Results

CNN/ORC POLL – August 7-8
Opinion of Mitt Romney
Favorable 47% (Down from 48% in July)
Unfavorable 48% (Up from 42% in July)

Opinion of Mitt Romney
Favorable 44% (Down from 49% in July)
Unfavorable 52% (Up from 40% In July)

MORE… NEW CNN/ORC POLL SHOWS MORE REPUBLICANS WANT ROMNEY TO PICK RUBIO… Marco Rubio tops the list of picks by Republicans surveyed in the new CNN/ORC poll. However, half of all Americans are unfamiliar with the freshman senator. He is not alone in his low profile. A majority of Americans are unfamiliar with Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and a “whopping” 72% have no impression of Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

CNN/ORC POLL – August 7-8

Who Would You Like to See Romney Choose as Running Mate?

Rubio 28%
Christie 16%
Ryan 16%
Jindal 8%
McDonnell 6%
Portman 6%
Pawlenty 4%

Opinion of Chris Christie: Favorable 37%/Unfavorable 21%/Unsure 42%
Opinion of Bobby Jindal: Favorable 24%/Unfavorable 20%/Unsure 56%
Opinion of Bob McDonnell: Favorable 15%/Unfavorable 12%/Unsure 73%
Opinion of Tim Pawlenty: Favorable 22%/Unfavorable 20%/Unsure 58%
Opinion of Rob Portman: Favorable 17%/Unfavorable 11%/Unsure 72%
Opinion of Marco Rubio: Favorable 32%/Unfavorable 22%/Unsure 46%
Opinion of Paul Ryan: Favorable 27%/Unfavorable 19%/Unsure 54%

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading Romney's short list: Portman a case study in campaigning for running mate
If Sen. Rob Portman is tapped to be Mitt Romney's running mate, the history of his home state will be a driving force. "The road to the White House goes through Ohio," he says matter-of-factly. – John King

Leading Drudge: Cancer Ad Turns Malignant
President Barack Obama's re-election campaign washed its hands Wednesday of an independent group's vicious (and misleading) ad effectively blaming Mitt Romney for the death of a laid-off steelworker's wife from cancer. – Olivier Knox

Leading HuffPo: Heh, Heh: Rick Santorum Chuckles When Asked To Defend Mitt Romney On Health Care
Former Sen. Rick Santorum couldn't suppress his laughter Wednesday morning when reminded that he had once declared Mitt Romney to be the single worst Republican candidate to run against President Barack Obama on the issue of health care. – Sam Stein

Leading Politico: The disappearing undecided voter
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would like to win over undecided voters — but there just aren’t many of them left. – Reid J. Epstein

Leading The New York Times: Romney Faces Pressure From Right to Put Ryan on Ticket
A strongly-worded Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday urged Mr. Romney to pick Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the architect of the Republican budgetary vision who has pushed ambitious plans to curtail entitlement programs. The paper said Mr. Ryan “best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election.” - Michael D. Shear

(Answer below)

Here’s a cool thought after the United States experienced the hottest month on record in July: Which Olympic Games was the first to use artificial snow?

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

With the increasing popularity of Aaron Sorkin’s “Newsroom” program on HBO, we are getting more and more questions about what it is actually like in the CNN newsroom.

We have to be honest here. What you see on CNN television this week is exactly what you would see in the CNN newsroom: people talking about whom Mitt Romney will pick for his vice presidential running mate. So, in the name of transparency, we wanted to share with you one of these conversations.

When we want to talk politics at CNN, the person on the top of the list is the best political reporter of his generation, and the man Michael Calderone described this week as the reporter who “has broken more VP picks than anyone over the past quarter-century,” CNN’s John King.

You have just returned from interviews with two members of the Romney short list, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Rob Portman. Did you get a sense of how the process is wearing on them? Is there a difference between Pawlenty, who has been through the excruciating gantlet before (only to be passed over for Palin), and the other potential picks who are newer to the national spotlight?

JOHN KING: When you talk to the contenders and their staffs, it is more than abundantly clear they are ready for this to be over. Sen. Portman told me that straight up: “I’m ready for it to be made, you know, I am.” Gov. Pawlenty says it’s less stressful this time but, in his words, “still a big deal.” If you are on the short list, or believed to be in play, it is just about all you get asked about. It’s flattering for all of them – and has helped Sen. Rubio, for example, sell even more copies of a book that was going to do pretty well anyway. So there are up upsides and downsides. But they are all happy to know the end is in sight.

Is the process more difficult for campaigns now that the media have proliferated and intensified?

JOHN KING: In some ways campaign aides say it is more complicated. I’m not sure I would use the word difficult. There are more tweets and blog postings and so everything said by the candidate or the contenders can be magnified and ricocheted around the new media world in a click. But even with all the outlets, and all the “trackers” on the prospects, the Romney campaign has run a tight operation here. The time the governor felt compelled – or you could say was forced – to say Rubio was being vetted is the only time they lost control of the process. It’s my seventh cycle, and yes our business has changed a lot, but this process is pretty stable in what it looks like, and again Team Romney has kept it tight.

In the Huffington Post this week, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz calls covering the vice presidential selection rather unrewarding with “so much time and effort going [into] tracking something that's more invisible than visible.” Yet, as followers of your career we think there is a reward in uncovering the thinking and the planned pageantry to put together the tips that reveal a nominee. What do you think?

JOHN KING: Dan is, as always, right. And yet we have the quadrennial hunt for buried treasure. The 1988 break for me was career changing; I was 24 and about to get big-footed by the more experienced Washington people. So you can never tell me it’s not a hunt worth the effort. And it is always good practice to work sources and, if there is no orchestrated leak, to put the pieces together and connect the dots. But should we put as much - MORE – effort into the Medicare plans and the education proposals and where all the money is coming from? Yes.

Moving on to the pick itself, is it more important for Romney to solidify his case on the economy with a pick that underscores his ticket’s economic bona fides or is more important to have a pick that makes up for something that he lacks (like Obama picking Biden to strengthen his ticket’s foreign policy heft)?

JOHN KING: A political pick or a governing pick? That is the question. Unless you can get both. The VP narrative so often talks of “getting a key state” and yet that so rarely happens. LBJ for JFK. Yes — Texas was key. But more recently? George H.W. Bush was a balancing pick — Washington experience and a solid guy to calm those who thought Reagan was a little reckless. Al Gore was a statement; the 1992 Democratic ticket is not from the party of Michael Dukakis or Walter Mondale. But it did help some in the South. Dick Cheney was to George W. Bush as H.W. Bush was to Reagan. And you can even put Joe Biden in that category — a grown-up to assuage those who might worry then-Sen. Obama was too new, too untested. All governors lack top tier national security experience, but history shows Americans pick governors for president more often than not. This race is close, and Romney doesn’t have a glaring need as he makes his pick. The fact that three guys from the Midwest are in contention tells you a lot, though, about where he thinks the race will be decided.

When Tim Russert asked John McCain in 2000 if he would consider being George W. Bush’s vice president, McCain told him, “No, no way. The vice president has two duties. One is to inquire daily as to the health of the president, and the other is to attend the funerals of Third World dictators. And neither of those do I find an enjoyable exercise.” Has respect for the office increased or is mocking it just part of the political process?

JOHN KING: Mocking the vice presidency is a tradition as old as the Republic. So is wanting the vice presidency. If nothing else it is the second highest office in the land. And it can be much more. Sure, Dick Cheney was the exception – a vice president who had no intention of using the job as a springboard to the presidency. People thought that of Joe Biden. They might have to think again. If Romney wins, his No. 2 becomes a major force in the Republican Party and the favorite in 2020. And if he loses, and the VP pick performs well, well hello 2016. There’s an antique desk in the ceremonial VP office in what is now called the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. VP’s sign their autograph inside the drawer. It’s an impressive collection. McCain would have said yes.

The political bites of the day

- Mitt Romney: “I’m not a business.” -
“I’m not a business. We have a process in this country, which was established by law, which provides for the transparency which candidates are required to meet. I have met with that requirement with full financial disclosure of all my investments, but in addition have provided and will provide a full two years of tax returns. This happens to be exactly the same as with John McCain when he ran for office four years ago. And the Obama team had no difficulty with that circumstance.”

GUT CHECK FLASHBACK Mitt Romney on August 11, 2011, in Des Moines: “Corporations are people, my friend. We can raise taxes on – of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes?”

- Voter registration takes center stage in Massachusetts -
“I want every legal vote to count, but it’s outrageous to use taxpayer dollars to register welfare recipients as part of a special effort to boost one political party over another. This effort to sign up welfare recipients is being aided by Elizabeth Warren’s daughter and it’s clearly designed to benefit her mother’s political campaign. It means that I’m going to have to work that much harder to get out my pro-jobs, pro-free enterprise message.”

HIS CHALLENGER, ELIZABETH WARREN, IN A PRESSER WEDNESDAY NIGHT: “Something smells wrong about enforcing the law? Surely that’s not what he’s saying…. (The law) was passed bipartisan, by Republicans and Democrats, to try to make sure that there was plenty of access to voting. That people – citizens were able to register and vote and to encourage registration in voting.”

GUT CHECK FULL SERVICE - THE BOSTON GLOBE WRITES: “The state’s Department of Transitional Assistance last month sent registration forms, along with prepaid return envelopes, as part of a settlement over a lawsuit accusing the Patrick administration of violating the federal ‘motor voter law.’ It requires states to provide voter registration at motor vehicle and public assistance offices. The suit was filed in May by a number of voting rights groups, including Demos, a left-leaning group based in New York whose board is chaired by Warren’s daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi. Voting rights groups have sued a number of states for failing to comply with the motor voter law, most recently Pennsylvania. Cases have been settled in New Mexico, Indiana, and Georgia.”

- How much cash could a candidate raise if a candidate could raise cash? -
“We’re about halfway through our fundraising, and so if you feel tired now, you gotta go take a couple vitamins because we’re gonna really have a strong push to the finish line. It’s a little bit like chopping wood. You look over at your pile and you can actually see how it looks.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less







Artificial snow was first used at an Olympics which is better remembered for what happened on ice than on the slopes - the 1980 Lake Placid games. Less than an inch of snow fell in the two weeks before the February games, although temperatures hovered in the teens and 20s Fahrenheit – about average for that time of year in Lake Placid, New York. The United States men’s ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union’s team in the “miracle on ice” as the Cold War between the two nations raged.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to Curtis Beck, who joins our winner’s circle. We’ll have another question tomorrow afternoon on Twitter: @cnngutcheck.

Our inbox awaits:

Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing

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 Greg Wallace, who is filling the big shoes of the vacationing Dan Merica.

Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. SwissMitt

    Now that Romney favors Obamacare I will be voting third party. Mott can't be trusted

    August 9, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. NVa Native

    Everyone knows President Obama is the guy who; saved GM, saved our economy and our middle class, killed Bin Laden, and so much more. And as the public gets to know who Romoney is his favorable numbers will continue fall.

    August 9, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    If Mittens is allegedly so competent, why can't he manage to run his campaign all that well? For realz.

    August 9, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  4. GOP = Greed Over Peopleu

    A seven percent lead sounds familiar, oh yeah, that would be howmany points President O beat Geezer and Gidget in 2008!

    August 9, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  5. Tyrone

    I King Tabby Nackle Bishop Romney have the same chance of becoming Prez as The Salt Lake Lds apointing a Black man to the Quarom of 12.

    August 9, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    his gray hair isn't in the same places this week. I think he uses Raygun's hair dye. ha ha ha ha ha ha haa

    August 9, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  7. joesixpackjr

    I am shocked that Romney's unfavorable polling is up after so much favorable coverage on fair and balanced CNN!

    August 10, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  8. gopflame

    Polls only mean something when they are done with likely voters. All Americans are not politically involved or even vote or even care. Nice try, nice spin but not true.

    August 10, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |