CNN's GUT CHECK | for September 19, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: FAST AND FURIOUS REPORT FINDS “FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP”… Fourteen employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Justice Department face disciplinary action for their roles in the botched Fast and Furious weapons-tracking program, according to a report released today by department investigators. Also, two of these employees no longer work at the ATF. Attorney General Eric Holder said he has accepted the resignations of Kenneth Melson, the former acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein in connection with their roles in the Fast and Furious weapons-tracking program. The program was designed to track kingpins responsible for illegal gunrunning to Mexico. It has been blamed for contributing to crimes - including the high-profile slaying of a U.S. border patrol agent.
JUST IN: FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE TO FOCUS ON THE ECONOMY… For the first time in the history of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the debate commission released the topics of the first presidential debate in advance. The debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, moderated by Jim Lehrer, will be broken up in six 15-minutes segments: 1. the Economy– I, 2. The Economy – II, 3. The Economy – III, 4. Health Care, 5. The Role of Government, 6. Governing. The debate will be broadcast on CNN on Wednesday, October 3, at 9:00 p.m. ET.
What decision about an American institution on this day in history caused Nikita Khrushchev to explode with anger?
A son of Michigan is getting the cold shoulder today in the latest CNN/ORC Poll, only 48 short days until the election. The latest survey shows that President Barack Obama holds a 52 to 44 percent lead over Mitt Romney – which falls just outside the poll’s 7 point margin of error.
Michigan is not a “must win” for Romney, but capturing the state’s 16 electoral votes would help widen what appears to be a very narrow path in his march to the White House. CNN classifies Michigan as “lean Obama” – not surprising seeing that Obama beat John McCain by 16 points in 2008 and John Kerry won the state in 2004 by three points over President George W. Bush.
There are nine states we have put in the toss-up category – the political battlegrounds where the 2012 race will be won and lost. If Romney were to win Michigan, it would give him some breathing room – basically meaning that he could afford to lose a handful of the smaller states that we consider toss-ups such as New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa – and still have a chance of getting to 270 electoral votes. Moreover, if Romney were to win Michigan he would also likely pick up at least one of those other states in the swing – thus making his electoral path even wider.
So who does this son of a former Michigan governor, who proudly noted he was born in this state during a campaign appearance in Commerce, Michigan last month, need to build support with in the state?
The CNN/ORC poll suggests he needs help across the demographic spectrum:
Obama has a 5 point advantage lead men, 11 point lead with women, 15 point lead with voters under 50, 1 point lead with voters over 50, 22 point lead with voters making under $50,000, 4 point led with voters making over $50,000, 12 point lead with voters without a college degree, and a 5 point lead with college graduates. Even 25 % of people who described themselves as conservative said they would support the president.
Perhaps Romney is doing so poorly in the state where he was raised and watched his father lead in part because of this 2008 opinion column he wrote in The New York Times. For the son of a former auto executive – George Romney led American Motors – opposing the government bailout was not seen kindly by most people in a state where cars are king.
One key point: Obama is only up 8 points – 1 point outside the margin of error.
But Michigan is getting very little play by the campaigns. Neither campaign nor party committee has advertised in the state since the start of the general election, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN’s consultant on political advertising. While the Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future, is up with a new ad in Michigan today there has been very little in the way of meaningful political ad spending otherwise. In all, about $6 million has been spent on the airwaves in Michigan during the general election phase of this campaign – all of it by conservative third party groups.
While Michigan is going to be a difficult state for Romney to win, if he did it would change the political map as we know it.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: For Romney, how bad is this?
When Romney told the fund-raiser crowd there are "47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what" he was on solid ground and reflecting the consensus of his polling and political team. But how he got from that data point to describing Obama's coalition as "victims who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them" is a mystery. – John King
Leading Drudge: France To Close 20 Embassies In Fear Of Cartoon Backlash
France announced Wednesday it will close 20 embassies across the Muslim world on Friday after French weekly Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed naked, amid growing unrest over an anti-Islamic film that has left dozens dead. The French Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday that France will close 20 of its embassies in Muslim countries this Friday following the publication of controversial Prophet Mohammed cartoons by satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. – France 24
Leading HuffPo: GOP Freak-Out
Republicans could use a bit of advice from an unlikely source right now: Obama adviser David Plouffe, who in 2010 told Democrats worried about the midterm elections, "No bed-wetting." Now it's Republicans who are frightened. Mitt Romney's recent troubles have created a sense of gloom, and a good dose of doom, in the Grand Old Party. – Jon Ward
Leading Politico: Mitt Romney needs poll vault to win
Mitt Romney faces an increasingly daunting path to victory in the 2012 presidential race, as a wave of national and state-level polling suggests that President Barack Obama has cemented a small but meaningful lead across the battleground states. – Alexander Burns and Emily Schultheis
Leading The New York Times: Wisconsin Offers Window on Hurdles Ahead for Romney
To Mitt Romney, the 10 electoral votes in Wisconsin may be more essential than extra, a critical backup plan if a first-tier battleground state falls out of reach… But President Obama has overtaken Mr. Romney on who would do a better job handling the economy, according to a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll of likely Wisconsin voters. The poll also found that Mr. Obama has a 17-point edge over Mr. Romney when voters are asked if a candidate cares about their needs and problems. – Jeff Zeleny and Marjorie Connelly
The political bites of the day
- The Grand Old Party of Discipline –
PEGGY NOONAN IN A WALL STREET JOURNAL COLUMN: “It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It’s not big, it’s not brave, it’s not thoughtfully tackling great issues.”
MARK MCKINNON IN AN INTERVIEW WITH JOY BEHAR: “This latest tape is a big blow. … He’s either cynical or completely tone deaf.”
SEN. DEAN HELLER IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S DANA BASH: “I have a very different view of the world and as a United States senator I think I represent everybody, and I think every vote is important.”
JOHN MCCORMACK IN A WEEKLY STANDARD OPINION EDITORIAL: “These appear to be the words of somebody who doesn't understand American conservatism and its relationship to the American idea. Conservatives don't believe in economic determinism. … The likely problem is that Mitt Romney is not a conservative–or at least wasn't a conservative until late in life–but he is running for president as the nominee of the conservative party on a conservative platform.”
- In response to Romney, Obama displays quiet confidence on Letterman -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CBS’ DAVID LETTERMAN: “When I won in 2008, 47% of the American people voted for John McCain. They didn't vote for me. And what I said on election night was even though you didn't vote for me I hear your voices and I’m going to work as hard as I can to be your president. And one of the things I’ve learned as president is you represent the entire country. And when I meet Republicans as I’m traveling around the country, they are hardworking family people who care deeply about this country and my expectation is that if you want to be president you've got to work for everybody, not just for some… one thing I’ve never tried to do - and I think none of us can do in public office - is suggest that because somebody doesn't agree with me that they're victims or unpatriotic or they don't have a sense of responsibility.”
- Rhoades: This campaign is about two distinct visions -
MATT RHOADES, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN MANAGER, IN A CAMPAIGN MEMO: “Mitt Romney’s vision for America is an opportunity society, where free people and free enterprise thrive and success is admired and emulated, not attacked. President Obama’s vision for America is a government-centered society, where government grows bigger and more active, occupying more of our everyday lives.”
- What videos? Ryan continues ‘redistribution’ attack -
VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PAUL RYAN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN VIRGINIA: “President Obama said that he believes in redistribution. Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute the wealth. Mitt Romney and I are running to help Americans create wealth. Efforts that promote hard work and personal responsibility over government dependency are what have made this economy the envy of the world.”
- Reid continues to use position for politics, hits Romney on 47% -
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID IN A SPEECH ON THE SENATE FLOOR: “For months I believed Mitt Romney wanted to be president of all the United States. This week we learned Mitt Romney only wants to be president of half of the United States. If Mitt Romney were president, he wouldn't waste time worrying about the 47% of Americans who he believes are victims, who Romney believes aren't willing to take personal responsibility.”
- Even the “victims" love tax jokes -
JAY LENO JOKES ABOUT MITT ROMNEY ON HIS LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW: “Mitt Romney said the 47% of people who don't pay taxes are going to vote for Obama. You know what that means? Mitt Romney is going to vote for Obama.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
No Mickey Mouse for you, Mr. Khrushchev.
While we assume that wasn’t the exact phrasing Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker used to tell Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev he couldn’t got to Disneyland, Gut Check can dream.
On this day in 1959, while the American foe was traveling in Los Angeles, the United States government told Khrushchev that, due to safety concerns, he would not be allowed to visit “the happiest place on earth.”
According to news reports of the day, Khrushchev was enraged.
“And I say, I would very much like to go and see Disneyland. But then, we cannot guarantee your security, they say. Then what must I do? Commit suicide?” fumed Khrushchev in a public speech. “Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken hold of the place that can destroy me? You have policemen so tough they can lift a bull by the horns, yet they say Disneyland cannot be security-guarded. This fact can evoke nothing but disappointment on my part.”
Gut Check thinks this is the first time a world leader has thrown a public temper tantrum about not being able to go to Disneyland. Let us know if there are others via email, email@example.com.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Yes, Jonathan Gormley (@JonathanGormley), you are right, this was an example of “Grouchy Nikita.” Congrats to Gormley on the win.
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