CNN’s GUT CHECK for August 20, 2012
August 20th, 2012
05:34 PM ET
8 years ago

CNN’s GUT CHECK for August 20, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 20, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

DEVELOPING: AKIN ON THE ROPES… After using the term “legitimate rape,” Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri has been peppered with calls to withdraw from his senate race on Monday.

The National Republican Senate Committee told CNN’s Dana Bash that, “It was communicated to the Congressman Akin that the NRSC will be pulling out if he stays in the race – currently have $5m reserved – expressed concern that him staying in the race could put the majority at risk.”

Akin, however, rejected the idea of stepping down – telling Sean Hannity that, “I was told that a decision has to be made by 5 o'clock tomorrow, but I was calling you and letting you know that I am announcing today that that we're going to stay in.”

Facts: According to CNN’s Robert Yoon, if a nominee for statewide office wants to withdraw after August 21, he/she may do so if there is no additional cost for printing or reprinting ballots or if he or she is willing to pay those costs. Then, he or she can withdraw through a court order, but that action must be taken before the sixth Tuesday before the general election.” (which is Tuesday, September 25th) Once withdrawn, it is up to the “state committee of the party” to pick a replacement candidate for statewide offices.

GREEN IS THE NEW PINK: WOMEN NOW MEMBERS OF AUGUSTA NATIONAL… Augusta National Golf Club has admitted its first female members, the private club announced Monday. The decision to admit former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore of Lake City, South Carolina, ends a longstanding policy excluding women as members of the exclusive Georgia club, which hosts the annual Masters Tournament.

"These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership," Augusta Chairman Billy Payne said Monday. "It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their Green Jackets when the Club opens this fall."

(Answer below)
"The Prayer of Twenty Millions," was an editorial urging President Abraham Lincoln to abolish slavery. Who wrote it?

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

From now until Election Day we will ask ourselves one question as we look at the news cycle: How will this affect the votes of suburban women?

With this in mind, a day like Monday, in which the president of the United States calls a rare press conference in response to parsing the definition of the word “rape,” you may want to take note.

This all started on local St. Louis television Sunday when Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, explained his opposition to abortion in all circumstances, including rape, suggesting that women could stop unwanted pregnancies in certain cases: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said.

President Obama, from the official setting of the White House podium this afternoon, addressed Akin’s comments, “The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape. The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make sense to the American people. And certainly doesn't make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians a majority of who are men making health care decisions on behalf of women.”

For Republicans, who had banked on Monday to start selling the convention and the Romney-Ryan ticket in a deeper light, had awoken to the headline in The New York Times, “GOP Packaging Seeks to Reveal a Warm Romney” ... and ended the day with the same publication leading with “Romney and Ryan Team Up on Trail Amid Criticism on Abortion.”

What a difference a comment makes. Though they tried, Akin could not easily be dismissed by Republicans as a party anathema as he is a six-term congressman, who sits on the Budget and Science and Technology Committees, won his last four elections with more than 60% of the vote, served in the Army Reserves and worked as a manager at IBM and had the Republicans gloating about a possible pick-up in his race in the Missouri Senate.

In Tampa, a Republican National Committee member from a critical swing state expressed frustration to us, “It is a terrible distraction in a Senate race that we were poised to win,” said the RNC member, who spoke candidly on the condition of anonymity. “Akin needs to do the right thing and quietly leave the ballot. It has also changed the national conversation back to this supposed Republican faux war on women. That is not where Gov. Romney and his ticket want to spend their time between now and November 6.”

Indeed, there is new attention on the Republican platform committee meeting in Tampa, where party leaders hammer out the party’s stance on key issues – including abortion. This will bring new attention to a debate that was bubbling already with the selection of Paul Ryan: Will the party platform oppose abortion in all cases or have an exception for rape and incest?

It is not just the instant question of how women will react to Akin, who is running against one of the handful of women in the U.S. Senate, or how women will react to the Republican platform, but how women will respond to an election cycle that yet again has a debate about women’s issues with only men speaking. It is worth noting that the GOP platform committee this year is made up of 55 men and 55 women - due to a requirement that the committee be gender-balanced.

We at Gut Check are at least happy in our own political world that we have always been co-ed.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Senate candidate's flub puts abortion at center of campaign debate again
A campaign flub by a Republican Senate candidate shifted the political focus Monday to abortion and women's rights, as certain GOP nominee Mitt Romney and his conservative running mate faced a town hall-style meeting in New Hampshire. – Tom Cohen

Leading Drudge: Obama Denies Romney Felony Smear
President Obama: Well, first of all I am not sure that all of those characterizations that you laid out there were accurate. For example, nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon. And, I think that what is absolutely true is if you watch me on the campaign trail, here's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about how to put Americans back to work.

Leading HuffPo: Mitt Romney: Todd Akin Rape Comments Are 'Insulting, Inexcusable'
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Monday rebuked Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), a candidate for senate, for his assertion that "legitimate rape" victims rarely get pregnant. – Luke Johnson

Leading Politico: Todd Akin moves to save candidacy
Senior Republicans in Missouri and Washington are pressuring Rep. Todd Akin to withdraw from his Senate race against Sen. Claire McCaskill after his explosive remarks that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant. But Akin is resisting the calls, issuing an apology but vowing to stay in the race.

Leading The New York Times: G.O.P. Packaging Seeks to Reveal a Warm Romney
Working from makeshift offices at a hockey arena here, a team of Romney advisers, producers and designers has been staging and scripting a program for the Republican National Convention that they say they hope will accomplish something a year of campaigning has failed to do: paint a full and revealing portrait of who Mitt Romney is. – Jeremy W. Peters

The political bites of the day

- At surprise press conference, Obama defends continued tax talk -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING: “When it comes to releasing taxes that's a precedent that was set decades ago including by Gov. Romney's father. And for us to say that it makes sense to release your tax returns as I did, as John McCain did, as Bill Clinton did, as the two President Bushes did. I don't think it's any way out of bounds. I think that is what the American people would rightly expect is a sense that if particularly we're going to be having a huge debate about how we reform our tax code and how we pay for the government that we need, I think people want to know that everybody’s been playing by the same rules including those who are seeking the highest office of the land. This is not an entitlement being president of the United States. This is a privilege and we've got to put ourselves before the American people to make our case.”

- ‘What I said was ill conceived and it was wrong and for that I apologize’ -
REPUBLICAN REP. TODD AKIN OF MISSOURI APOLOGIZES FOR HIS COMMENTS ON RAPE AND ABORTION ON MIKE HUCKABEE’S RADIO SHOW: “I care deeply for the people who've been raped. They're equally vulnerable and a rape is equally tragic. Let me be clear – it is never legitimate. It is an evil act. It is committed by violent predators. I used the wrong word in the wrong way. What I said was ill conceived and it was wrong and for that I apologize.”

Gut Check Flashback: Akin talks about abortion in the case of rape on KTVI in Missouri: “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

- Republicans quickly run from Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ comment -
MONTANA CONGRESSMAN AND SENATE CANDIDATE DENNY REHBERG IN A STATEMENT: “As a pro-life conservative, a husband, and a father of two young women, I find Rep. Akin's remarks to be offensive and reprehensible. There is no such thing as a 'legitimate rape.' I condemn Rep. Akin's statements in the strongest possible terms.”

MASSACHUSETTS REPUBLICAN SEN. SCOTT BROWN IN A STATEMENT: “As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri.”

U.S. SENATOR JOHN CORNYN, CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE, IN A STATEMENT: “Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive and indefensible. I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next 24 hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service.”

- McCaskill seizes on comments as a ‘gut check’ moment -
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL OF MISSOURI IN AN INTERVIEW ON MSNBC: “For me in this race, I want to make sure that this is a moment where Missourians can take a close look. He was elected by the Republican primary voters, by a wide margin. And I know there are people that are out of the mainstream that really support Todd Akin. But for most Missourians, I hope this is one of those gut check moments when they realize this is not somebody we want speaking for us and our values on the floor of the United States Senate.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less


As editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley rarely kept his opinions to himself. That was no more evident than on August 20, 1862, when Greely wrote an editorial on the abolishment of slavery in his newspaper.

In "The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” Greely scolded President Abraham Lincoln for his handling of slaves in territory the Union had taken from the Confederacy. Claiming he spoke for the American people, Greely wrote, that he was “sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of the Rebels.”

Greeley wanted a Civil War bent on the destruction of slavery. At the time of publication, Lincoln was walking a political tightrope between alienating border states that had not abolished slavery and satisfying people like Greely in the North.

Greeley hoped to force Lincoln’s hand with his editorial.

“We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers and choppers from the Blacks of the South, whether we allow them to fight for us or not, or we shall be baffled and repelled,” wrote the newspaper editor. “As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this struggle at any sacrifice but that Principle and Honor, but who now feel that the triumph of the Union is dispensable not only to the existence of our country to the well being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land.”

Less than a month later, on September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued a preliminary executive order that would become the Emancipation Proclamation, an order that freed all slaves within the ten states who had rebelled against the Union.

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free,” Lincoln wrote.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to Daniel J Voorhees (‏@DJVUSW1104) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia Question.

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Filed under: 2012 • CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Luke Brown

    So glad to know that Paul Ryan will allow a victim of "forcible rape" to get an abortion if her life or the child's life is in danger.

    I guess he would define non-forcible rape as those instances when the victim enjoys it.

    Hey Paul, who decides if a rape was "forcible"?

    August 20, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    Gut check? Better than what the GOP/Teatrolls would have the gov't doing: Womb Checks.

    August 20, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. jerseylou

    Where is my Welding Tools,i want to make sure this thing you call Akin never leaves his coffin again.

    August 20, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  4. steven harnack

    So until he went public with his opinion about this he was an acceptable candidate for the U.S. Senate? And he's already a Congressman? Is any more proof required that, when is comes to intelligence, the TeaParty crowd's IQs are in the negative numbers? Even the head of the so-called Family Research Council said, "I don't know the science about that...". Really? Doesn't know the science? Yeah, that's someone who should be telling thousands of people what to think!

    August 20, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |