CNN's GUT CHECK | for August 22, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: FOUR YEARS LATER, SIMILAR SLIM MARGIN BEFORE GOP CONVENTION: CNN’s Poll of polls of registered voters’ choice for president shows:
Barack Obama - 47%
Mitt Romney - 43%
With just five days to go until the start of the Republican convention in Tampa, the race for the White House remains knotted up between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The CNN Poll of Polls is an average of three national polls of registered voters conducted since August 15: Gallup Daily Tracking (August 15-21), Monmouth University (August 15-19), and Wall Street Journal/NBC News (August 16-20).
In 2008, the CNN Poll of Polls just days before the start of the Republican National convention showed Obama with 49 percent and McCain with 44 percent – a five point margin.
DEVELOPING: NO PARSING FROM PAUL… In an interview with KDKA in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, Rep. Paul Ryan responds to questions about a bill he sponsored while in the House.
QUESTION: You sponsored legislation that has the language "forcible rape"
RYAN: Rape is rape, period end of story.
Q: So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the time?
RYAN: Rape is rape and there is no splitting hairs over rape.
How many hotel rooms have been booked in Tampa, Florida, for the Republican National Convention?
When a politician is embroiled in a controversy, a headline grabbing incident or situation can be the most effective way to change the subject.
For the past few days, Mitt Romney has been in the middle of a political storm, one that is not of his doing. Nonetheless, Rep. Todd Akin’s remark on “legitimate rape” is overshadowing the lead-in to Romney’s convention here in Tampa where the former Massachusetts governor will formally accept the nomination and make the final turn to the general election. The Romney campaign’s message is being overpowered by the Akin controversy - one, that as of now, doesn’t appear to be going away.
But another storm churning off the Southeast coast has the potential to overshadow the Akin storyline, as eyes are now starting to lock onto Tropical Storm Isaac. The concern, less than one week before the Republican National Convention, is that Isaac could increase strength, become a hurricane, move into the Gulf of Mexico and turn into Tampa. Right now, no one knows the storm’s path, and people are expressing hope that it won’t come this way. But in a region known for hurricanes – no one is taking this lightly.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement a few hours ago saying that state officials “are closely tracking the potential for the storm to impact part or all of the state, including the Tampa Bay region during the Republican National Convention.” Scott added that in planning for this event the “possibility of a hurricane hitting the convention has been part of that planning process.”
Convention officials said they too are “monitoring the situation” and have “contingency plans in place” in case they have to take action. GOP officials are not disclosing those plans, likely out of concern that it would draw more attention to the storm.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn took time today to walk along the waterfront, which is right next to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, to help us at Gut Check better understand what would happen if the storm does hit his city.
“The apparatus is already in place,” said Buckhorn, who is a Democrat. “The command structure is already in place. We know the evacuation routes. We know what to do. And so the only additional burden would be we’d have the media here to document our success or failure and you’d have the delegates. It’s just all about moving bodies out of harms way.”
Still, a major storm would be devastating to this city, which beat out several others for the right to host the convention.
“If you had a CAT Three storm, with a direct hit on Tampa Bay, you would literally push 15 to 20 feet of water all the way through Davis Islands through the convention center into downtown Tampa,” he said. “That would require a direct hit. Absent that you will get some storm surge depending on what the tides are, depending on which way the wind is coming, depending on where the hurricane is positioned out on the Gulf because it is counterclockwise. So, it all depends on the location of the storm, how long it stays, the intensity of it. But clearly a direct hit from a CAT Three and above storm would have pretty devastating impact.”
A devastating impact indeed on the lives of many people. Politics seems so trivial when we take into account the human factor and suffering. Still, we would be remiss if we didn’t look at the political implications of every event. For Mitt Romney, it is another storyline not of his doing that could affect his campaign. Even if the storm doesn’t hit Tampa, it could cause massive damage elsewhere. That in itself could influence how the Romney campaign moves forward with the convention.
Two storms the Romney campaign is dealing with that it has no control over.
But we note that President Obama might have to face a similar situation. If a devastating storm hit the U.S. and the Romney campaign had to scale back its convention could the Obama campaign throw a party the following week in Charlotte?
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Drama is rare in modern conventions
Four years after Jerry Ford's presidency ended in the ashes of his Watergate pardon of Richard Nixon, he vaulted back onto center stage at his party's 1980 national convention. – Paul Varian
Leading Drudge: CDC: West Nile Record
The recent West Nile virus outbreak is the largest ever seen in the United States, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of cases so far this year is the highest recorded through August since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999. As of August 21, 38 states had reported human infections. The cases reported to the CDC total 1,118, including 41 deaths. – Elizabeth Cohen
Leading HuffPo: Paul Ryan Pick No 'Game Change,' New Poll Says
With the first of the nominating conventions less than a week away, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll adds more evidence that the choice of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate has not been a "game changer" in the 2012 race for the White House. – Mike Blumenthal
Leading Politico: Todd Akin’s looming campaign of isolation
Rep. Todd Akin showed he could win a 48-hour standoff with his party. But that feat pales compared with what’s next: Running for a critical Senate seat as a candidate in near total isolation — abandoned by Republicans across the spectrum after his “legitimate rape” remarks and hard-pressed to raise the millions of dollars he’ll need to compete with Sen. Claire McCaskill. – Manu Raju
Leading The New York Times: Limited Convention Coverage Will Leave Ann Romney Off Air
At 10:30 on Monday night, Ann Romney is scheduled to take the stage at the Republican National Convention, in Act 1 of her husband’s four-day introduction to the nation. But tens of millions of people will not be able to watch. – Jeremy Peters
The political bites of the day
- Biden gives Ryan a compliment -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN ROCHESTER, MINNESOTA, ON TUESDAY: “Now that Gov. Romney has selected his running mate and these are both honorable men. These are both honorable men. But now that he's selected his running mate those differences are even more, more stark and more clear. Congressman Ryan has given, and I mean this as a compliment, he's given definition to the vague commitments that Romney has been making.”
- How many ‘most important’ elections have we had? -
VICE PRESIDENT HOPEFUL REP. PAUL RYAN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN VIRGINIA: “This is the most important election in our lifetimes no matter what generation you come from. It’s a defining moment. We understand the moment we are in and we can do this. We can turn this around. It’s not too late to get our country back on the right track, get people back to work, better take home pay. It’s not too late to reignite the American dream. We can do this.”
- ‘It’s not about me,’ says man defying entire party hierarchy -
REP. TODD AKIN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH NBC’S MATT LAUER: “I told him that I was going be looking at this VERY seriously, trying to weight all of the different points on this, and that I would make the decision. Because it's not about me. It's about trying to do the right thing, and standing on principle.”
- Trying to increase turnout, Romney encourages people to tell the truth -
MITT ROMNEY AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN IOWA: “One person, one person speaking the truth. Think about Rosa Parks. She was on a bus and told by the bus driver `get out of that seat. We want a white person to sit there’ and she said no. One person said no and began a campaign of dignity and honor and justice and equality.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Gut Check DVR: Drew Griffin’s report on AC360 Tonight is one the White House should watch. Key words: Solar, Made in America, China, tariffs.
With Republican delegations from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories streaming into Tampa, Florida, over the next few days, the town is gearing for an epic boost in tourism.
According to the host committee, 15,000 hotel rooms have been booked for the event.
“Any way you look at it, the convention is going to be a shot in the arm for Tampa Bay’s economy and tourism base,” Jones Lang LaSalle research analyst Stephen Siena said to the Tampa Bay Times.
According to Siena and the research team at Jones Lang LaSalle, the economic impact of the convention should be anywhere between $153.6 million to $173 million for the Tampa Bay area.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Gilbertson, we have missed you. Congratulations to Matthew Gilbertson (@MattRGilbertson) for being the person to get closest to our difficult trivia question today. While he tweeted 16,000 and the correct answer was 15,000, Gilbertson gets the win by default. At least we weren’t playing by “Price is Right” rules.
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