CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 16, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: CNN Electoral Map: Wisconsin moves to true "toss-up"... CNN Thursday turned the important battleground state of Wisconsin from "lean Obama" to true "toss-up" on its electoral map, in the wake of Mitt Romney's naming of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, a seven-term congressman from the Badgerstate, as his running mate. One contributing factor behind CNN's move was a new poll that matched two others from last week that indicate the presidential contest in Wisconsin is close. While Ryan's announcement did not dramatically alter the presidential poll numbers in Wisconsin, it did change the way both campaigns viewed the state of the race in the state.
ROMNEY TALKS TAXES: 13 FOR 10... Mitt Romney has paid no less than 13% in personal income taxes over the past 10 years, he said Thursday. The presumptive GOP nominee has faced withering criticism from Democrats over the release of his tax returns, including a charge by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that Romney had paid no taxes for a 10-year period. Reid did not specify if those were the last 10 years or an earlier period.
"I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13%. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. I paid taxes every single year," Romney said, explaining he had gone back to check his records after being asked by a reporter about the tax rates he had paid.
On this day in 1977, Elvis Presley passed away. While the king was living, though, he was able to meet then-President Richard Nixon. In that iconic meeting, what did Elvis ask Nixon for?
“Romney & Ryan support a radical budget …” – Stephanie Cutter, via Twitter
“The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney .” – Jim Messina, campaign manager, Obama for America, in a release after Mitt Romney’s announcement of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate
Since the Ryan announcement, the word “radical” has been in heavy rotation in the Obama campaign’s attacks on the Romney-Ryan ticket. Is it risky for a president and a campaign who rode into office on the mantle of change have their central attack be that the Republican ticket advocates too much change?
We reached out to two of our favorite message mavens to discuss the tightrope the campaign must walk with its language.
Democrat Paul Begala, who advises the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, defended the attacks, “A wise person once said, ‘Change is certain; progress is not.’ President Obama is, I believe, wisely demonstrating that the Romney-Ryan agenda is anti-Medicare, anti-education, anti-veterans, anti-transportation - basically anti-middle class.”
However, he did note the change in tone was a big one. “There is no doubt that 2012 is a far more negative year than 2008. I must say, if Romney had run a more moderate, middle-class-focused campaign, there would be less for the president and his allies (like me) to shoot at. But it would be malpractice to not tell people that Mitt Romney wants to fundamentally change Medicare, in a way that would partially privatize it, as well as eviscerate nearly everything that helps the middle class - and still have no positive effect on the debt, because he wants a massive transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the very rich,” Begala said, concluding himself that, “describing that plan is per se negative - but it is the most important set of domestic issues facing our country. So I want a big, loud fight over those priorities.”
Fred Davis, CEO of Strategic Perception in California, and one of the most famous ad men in Republican politics, disagreed. “I think they are off on the wrong track. The country is a mess, the country knows it. They TRIED to sell ‘hope and change,’ but they simply brought more of the same,” Davis said. “This election could come down to whether or not Americans are finally willing to take a little bitter medicine in order to bring about a comfortable, long-term, revitalization.”
When asked how Romney and Ryan could sell bitter medicine without turning off suburban women, Davis showed his skill in crafting messages: “Romney-Ryan will have to sell apocalypse. What will happen under any scenario other than their own. They are off to a pretty good start on that - that the can can no longer be kicked down the road. The only hope for that woman's family to survive is face hard facts and fix them forever.”
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Artists tell campaigns, delete me from your playlist
Mitt Romney's campaign can now point to something it has in common with Ronald Reagan's - a musical act is asking it to stop using its music at campaign stops. The rock band Silversun Pickups this week served Romney's campaign with a cease-and-desist order after it says Romney's campaign used its song, "Panic Switch," at an event earlier this month. – Allison Brennan
Leading Drudge: WH: Sticking With Joe – Hillary Passed Over Again
President Obama has no intention of getting rid of Vice President Biden as his running mate, the White House said Thursday. Republicans are being “ridiculous” and are trying to “distract attention” with their focus on Vice President Biden and his controversial comments earlier this week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said. – Amie Parnes
Leading HuffPo: Mitt Romney: Paul Ryan Medicare Plan And Mine Are The Same, 'If Not Identical'
Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said Wednesday his Medicare plan was "close to identical" to that of his vice-presidential choice, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), marking a full public embrace of the proposal from which his campaign initially sought to distance itself. – Luke Johnson
Leading Politico: Paul Ryan's Medicaid changes may be bigger
Beyond all the blood-on-your-hands, death-panel, throw-grandma-off-the cliff sniping over Medicare and "Obamacare," there's another fight looming that could change life for more than 60 million Americans a year. Just don't expect to hear much about it. – Joanne Kenen and Brett Norman
Leading The New York Times: Few Voters Truly Up for Grabs, Research Suggests
Many self-described independents — close to half, according to surveys — reliably vote for one party or the other. And many true swing voters live in states, like California or Texas, where no analyst doubts the outcome in November. – Rebecca Berg
The political bites of the day
- Ryan criticizes Obama for ‘fear and smear’ -
VICE PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL PAUL RYAN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN OHIO: “Now let's be candid. President Obama clearly inherited a very difficult situation. There are no two ways about that. Problem is – he made things much worse. And so, President Obama's run out of ideas. That’s why his campaign is based on frustration and anger. That’s why he's not coming with new ideas. He’s giving us more of the same. And he's going to resort to distortion. He’s going to resort to fear and smear.”
- Carney defends Biden, says he was talking about Wall Street -
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING: “Those who are trying to make something out of nothing here and distract attention from the policy debates this is – you know that's not what this is about. You know he was talking, if you look at what he said, about Wall Street reform, about the desire of some to put banks and Wall Street back in charge of your financial transactions and life.”
- Biden his own “all of the above” energy policy -
JAY LENO JOKES ON HIS LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Yesterday, President Obama visited a wind farm in Iowa. This is interesting. You know, just one wind farm with 50 turbines generates as much wind power as a single Joe Biden speech. Did you know that?”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
On this day in 1977, Elvis Presley, the king of rock ‘n’ roll, died in Memphis at age 42. While he was living, the king was able to meet President Richard M. Nixon in the Oval Office on December 21, 1970.
The backstory to the odd encounter, one that sparked possibly the best picture to come out of the Nixon White House, is remarkable in itself.
After Elvis’ father and wife criticized him for buying 32 handguns and 10 Mercedes-Benzesfor Christmas, Elvis got fed up with his family and took off to Los Angeles. When he landed, though, he decided what he really wanted was a badge from the federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, according to an account in Smithsonian magazine.
Elvis wrote Nixon: "Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out. … I would love to meet you.” As luck would have it, the letter fell into the lap of Egil “Bud” Krogh, a Nixon aide and Elvis fan. He set up the meeting and the rest is history.
In particular, Elvis asked the president to make him a “Federal Agent-at-Large” of the bureau.
“I’m on your side,” Elvis told Nixon, according to recounts by Krogh. The King then asked for the badge and Nixon asked Krogh if it was possible. When the aide said yes, Nixon ordered it done. According to reports, Elvis hugged Nixon.
The badge, reportedly cherished by Elvis, is housed in the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum in Yorba Linda, California.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congratulations to Jonathan Gormley (@JonathanGormley) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Who knew the Gormley was a fan of the King? Special shout out to Janet DiGiacomo (@CNNJanet) for coming close.
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