CNN’s GUT CHECK for October 3, 2012
October 3rd, 2012
05:39 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN’s GUT CHECK for October 3, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for October 3, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING: LIKELY VOTERS THINK OBAMA WILL WIN TONIGHT Americans think that President Barack Obama will win tonight’s presidential debate, with 56% of poll respondents stating that the president would likely win, compared to 32% who believe Republican challenger Mitt Romney will end up winning. … It's a good thing that the first presidential debate will be about domestic issues, because that's what is on the minds of the American voters. Nearly half say the economy is the most important issue facing the country today - not surprising when nearly three quarters say that the economy is in poor shape. The economy is followed at a great distance by the federal budget deficit (15%), health care (12%), and education (10%).

NEWS NUGGET: TODAY MARKS THE OBAMA’S 20th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY. Read about the first lady’s response as CNN’s Jessica Yellin asks her if a double date with the Romneys is what she had in mind for celebrating their platinum anniversary.

(Answer below)
Which television journalist moderated the “Grand Slam” of presidential debates – a Republican primary debate, a Democratic primary debate, a vice presidential debate and a presidential debate?

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

Our eyes are fixed on the clock, as we count down to the biggest night in this presidential campaign, save for the election itself.

And yes, every newsroom conversation revolves around the same topic: What do Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have to do tonight to convince American voters that they deserve to lead the country for the next four years?

CNN’s John King wrote a great piece on Obama’s challenges: “For the president, some aides and advisers worry most about coming across as smug, or too dismissive, of criticism of his economic stewardship. His burden also includes the challenge of showing how the next four years would be different without helping his challenger's case that the approach of the last four years was misguided.”

Republican consultant and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos wrote a memo to President Obama that is getting shared across the Web today: “If I were your adviser, I'd urge you to remember that you are the president, and we only have one of those. A president's stature is hard to match. Don't throw it away by becoming a political attack dog. Yes, you need a good offense or Romney will put you on defense, which you don't want. Hey, you've got a lot that needs defending! But keep your famous cool and make Romney come up to your level. Remember, a tie goes to the incumbent.” As if that weren’t enough advice, Castellanos adds, “Keep your chin down. No, literally. You tend to get a bit arrogant sometimes.”

King also detailed what Romney’s main challenge is: To earn your trust. “To win in November, Mitt Romney must emerge from his first debate with President Barack Obama as the leader on this campaign's defining question: Which candidate do voters trust more to handle the economy?” King writes.

Meanwhile, Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala used a sharper pen and some sports metaphors to coach his rival team, and its candidate Mitt Romney: “Throw Deep. … Romney should surprise us by being human. He should acknowledge the obvious: that his party made a hash of things the last time they ran the economy: squandering the surplus, generating trillions in debt, deregulating Wall Street, waging war on the national credit card. By pushing off the GOP's errors, Romney would build credibility as a sensible moderate. Then, and only then, he could be believable when he attacks the Obama economic record.”

Unwritten in all of this is the one thing that perhaps trumpets all diction, as a young senator named Kennedy found out in 1960: Image. For 90 minutes tonight, Mitt Romney will have equal footing with the president of the free world. We can’t wait to see what he does with it.

TONIGHT: CREATE YOUR OWN VIRAL MOMENTS; MAKE YOUR OWN GUT CHECK. Beginning with this week’s first presidential debate in Denver and available for all four debates this month, CNN will offer viewers the full televised debate online — including the pre-game and post-game/spin room activity — streaming live via a full HD player on Even cooler, you can fast-forward, rewind and pause the debate from anywhere with an internet connection, and then in a few clicks, cut and share your favorite clips from the debate as it happens. Watch a Demo and Read More.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: King: Debate all about trust for Romney
To win in November, Mitt Romney must emerge from his first debate with President Barack Obama as the leader on this campaign's defining question: Which candidate do voters trust more to handle the economy? – John King

Leading Drudge: Are You Ready???
The presidential candidates are leaving the heavy lifting of campaigning to their running mates as they spend one more day preparing for their first debate, scheduled for Wednesday night.

Leading HuffPo: Mitt's Got Some 'Splaining To Do
Heading into his first debate with Democratic President Barack Obama on Wednesday, Republican Mitt Romney has some convincing to do. During the next five weeks – and three debates – Romney will make an appeal to voters aimed at overcoming an Obama campaign that has outflanked his own for much of the past four months. Romney enters the final sprint to the November 6 election behind in national polls and trailing in most of the nine or so politically divided swing states that are likely to decide the election. John Whitesides for Reuters

Leading Politico: 2012 presidential debate as theater
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have spent months preparing for Wednesday’s debate, but the key to success may be delivering a performance that looks like a 90-minute ad lib. As political actors, Obama and Romney will be judged as much — if not more so — on their body language and demeanor as on the quality of their arguments. – Reid Epstein

Leading The New York Times: 26 Numbers to Listen For in a 90-Minute Debate
During the first presidential debate in 2008 between then-Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, the candidates and moderator uttered 16,152 words. Wednesday’s debate between Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney should be about the same. But how many of those words will actually be numbers? – Michael Shear

The political bites of the day

- Ann responds to critics, discusses difficulties of campaign -
ANN ROMNEY IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S GLORIA BORGER: “Well, you know, there's - there's always days when you just go - you know, everyone's a critic. And you just go, ‘If– if you really understood what you're up against when you do run for president, it's a very difficult thing.’ And as you know, Gloria, I said last time I would never do this again. And that's part of the reason. I mean, it's really hard for a family member, a person that loves this person that you see going through these difficulties, and just know how tough it is on that person that you love.”

Gut Check DVR: Tune in to CNN’s pre-game show at 7 p.m. ET for more of the interview with Ann Romney, including her reaction to Mitt Romney’s 47% comments

- Rubio: Biden is ‘the best thing we've got going’ -
SEN. MARCO RUBIO AT A ROMNEY CAMPAIGN RALLY IN DENVER, COLORADO: “What's happened to the American middle class? Well, over the last four years the American middle class ‘has been buried.’ No, no, no. Look. I know, listen. You say ah, you're a partisan Republican for saying that. No, no. Those aren't my words. Those happen to be the words of the distinguished vice president of the United States Mr. Joe Biden. (cheers then boos) No, don't boo! He's the best thing we've got going, guys! Don't boo.”

- The ‘the biggest cover-up in American political history’ that was covered in 2007 and still online -
RUSH LIMBAUGH TALKS ABOUT THE RERELEASED OBAMA SPEECH ON HIS RADIO SHOW: “We’ve been subjected to a cover-up here, the biggest cover-up in American political history. And that cover-up is the real Barack Obama. There has been an all-out concerted effort to prevent people from finding out who he is.”

Gut Check Fact Check: “The 2007 event was open to the press, and CNN affiliate WAVY recorded the full speech. The crux of his speech was reported by CNN at the time on air and online.” – Ashley Killough

- A longtime Republican debate sparring partner reflects on having to be so harsh he accidentally made someone cry -
SEN. ROB PORTMAN IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S DANA BASH AIRING AT 7 P.M. E.T.: “Part of your responsibility in these debates is to be tougher so the candidate you are helping is ready for the worst of it - so you have to be mean. You need to get under their skin. Sometimes the candidate you are working with doesn't appreciate it, and even more often, their family doesn't appreciate it.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Jonjon Mendoza Susi (@kTiNoJ)
‘Buried’ comment underscores risk – and reward – of deploying Biden on the trail

Sean Sullivan (@FixSean)
Paul Ryan will debate VP Biden next week. But what about his House opponent Rob Zerban (D)? Don't count on it:

Frank Thorp V (@frankthorpNBC)
New JetBlue promotion will fly 1,006 people out of the country if their presidential candidate loses in Nov:

Pema Levy (@pemalevy)
Granholm explains her convention speech: "I was high on democracy" via @pemalevy

Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance)
A Stunning Map of How Foreclosures Ate America

John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain)
#Teddy won! #Teddy won! #Teddy won! We've defeated the massive left wing conspiracy!

SOCIAL WATCH: IN DENVER? OR JUST WANT TO BE? Join Mark Preston (yes, the grouchy half of Gut Check) at 5:40 p.m. ET/3:40 p.m. MT for a panel on Social Media's Role in the 2012 Elections. Discussion will focus on how platforms like Facebook create opportunities for citizens to interact with candidates and campaigns and how the same technology allows journalists to share compelling stories in new and interesting ways.
Watch here.


Former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw is the only journalist in history who has hit the debate “Grand Slam.”

Shaw’s most memorable debate moments was in the 1988 presidential debate between Michael Dukakis and George H.W. Bush. The exchange – and Dukakis’ quick and unemotional response – cemented the candidate’s image as ice cold and out-of-touch.

Shaw: “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis (Dukakis’ wife) were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?”

Dukakis: “No, I don't, Bernard. And I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don't see any evidence that it's a deterrent, and I think there are better and more effective ways to deal with violent crime."

In addition to this memorable debate, Shaw moderated three debates in 2000: a Republican presidential primary debate (between Gary Bauer, Sen John McCain, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Publisher Steve Forbes and former State Department official Alan Keyes), a Democratic presidential primary debate (between Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Bill Bradley) and a vice presidential debate (between Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney).

(why aren’t you in it)

No correct answer to today’s Gut Check Trivia question – even though tweeps sent in answers like “Cronkite,” “Jim Lehrer” and “Wolf Blitzer.”

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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 Dan Merica, who runs our Twitter account @gutCheckCNN and enriches this product every single day.

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