CNN's GUT CHECK for October 11, 2012
October 11th, 2012
04:41 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for October 11, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for October 11, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING... RYAN LOWERS HIS OWN EXPECTATIONS: “This is new for me. Joe has done this for decades; ran for president, done all of those presidential debates, sitting vice president. So, he clearly goes into this with a whole lot more experience than I do, and this is the first time I'm on a stage like this,” Rep. Paul Ryan tells CNN’s Dana Bash in an exclusive interview airing at 8 p.m.

… BUT AMERICA SEES BIDEN AS THE UNDERDOG: In a pre-debate CNN/ORC poll, 55% of likely voters think Ryan will win the vice-presidential debate, while just 39% think Biden will.

69-42: A GENERATIONAL FIGHT NIGHT... Ryan Says He’s Used to the Age Gap. Dana Bash asks Ryan about his first race, against Lydia Spottswood in 1998:

BASH: Back in that race, she, it's quoted as saying she was old enough to be your mother. Joe Biden is a generation-plus! Joe Biden is 69, you're 42, that's a generation-plus older. How much does that play into your preparation?

RYAN: I'm used to that, actually; I came into Congress when I was 28 years old. I'm used to serving with people who are older; I'm used to debating people who are older.

BEAU BIDEN SAYS HIS DAD CAN THROW A PUNCH… In an interview with CNN’s Gloria Borger, Beau Biden says, "The reason they would go after him is because he lands punches. He's the single best communicator of the middle class out there."

GAME ON: The first and only vice-presidential debate starts tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CNN; pregame begins at 7 p.m. ET with the exclusive Ryan interview and the sneak peek into Biden debate prep that CNN obtained – including a detailed mockup of the set, stealthily built in a Sheraton hotel in Wilmington, Delaware.

(Answer below)
Ryan and Biden are getting debate prep help from Ted Olson and Ron Klain, respectively. In what real life court case did Olson and Klain face off?

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

A 69 year-old sitting vice president debates a 42 year-old congressman a few hours from now and we can think of little else.

Joe Biden and Paul Ryan: two Catholics debating on the national stage for the first time in the history of our country; two men who share little other than their faith, their charm, and their public affection for their mothers.

Yes, past vice presidential debates have given us delicious personality juxtapositions: the slick John Edwards seated next to the serious Dick Cheney; the confident, bemused Biden of the last election cycle across from the one and only Sarah Palin.

But tonight’s juxtaposition pits two men who are similar in their charm, patriotism and public service, yet worlds apart on their view on the size and role of government.

While much attention is on Ryan, the relative newcomer to the national stage, we can’t help but wonder how Biden performs tonight; even if he shows his campaign trail persona, the majority of Americans would be surprised. Somehow lured into putting the vice president in the comic box of a gaffe-maker, the American public has forgotten his command of policy and rhetoric. Will he go where the president didn’t? Will he bring up Bain Capital and the “47%”?

Then there’s Ryan, who after being painted as a scary man out to get your Medicare, became a star of suburbia at the Republican convention by uttering the line, “My mom is my role model.” Will he woo back conservative women with his biography and budget straight talk? And how will he handle foreign policy questions?

Despite our anticipation, the American public seems unimpressed with either candidate: “At 44%, Biden has the lowest pre-debate favorable rating of any Democratic vice presidential candidate of the past six elections,” Gallup’s Lydia Saad writes. “At 43%, Ryan's favorable score is no better, but he is viewed more positively than Vice President Quayle was in 1992 and roughly on par with Cheney in 2000.”

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Will nervous tics and trips of the tongue fell veep candidates?
Vice President Joe Biden is a gaffe-prone avuncular type; Rep. Paul Ryan is a wonky Gen-Xer. But both men will face the same challenge at their debate on Thursday: staying out of their own way. – Halimah Abdullah

Leading Drudge: 'America's Favorite Punch Line'
Among the four candidates on the top ballot line for the two major parties this year, only one man has never shifted roles, through five decades in politics: Joe Biden. The vice president has always been a punch line. It’s the joke that keeps changing. – Virginia Heffernan for Yahoo News

Leading HuffPo: BFD
Henry Ford once said, “History is bunk.” He could have been talking about this presidential election. Historical number-crunchers said Mitt Romney was toast; he isn’t. They said President Barack Obama couldn’t win with an unemployment rate above 7 percent; he can. And they said vice presidential debates don’t mean anything; this one surely does. The 90-minute clash at Centre College here tonight is a pivotal moment in the 2012 campaign for tactical, strategic, philosophical and even generational reasons. – Howard Fineman

Leading Politico: 5 things to watch in VP debate
And now for the undercard. Paul Ryan will look to win for the Republican ticket tonight when he takes the debate stage at Centre College here against Joe Biden in the first national face-off in which he’s participated. – Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush

Leading The New York Times: Voters Give Romney Better Grades for Leadership, Polls in 3 States Find
Mitt Romney is seen by more voters in three battleground states as a strong leader after his dominant debate performance last week, but perceptions that the economy is improving remain a buttress for President Obama as the 2012 campaign comes down to its final weeks. – Michael Shear and Magen Thee-Brenan

The political bites of the day

- Obama says he had a bad night, but he is moving on -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH ABC’S DIANE SAWYER: “Well, Gov. Romney had a good night, I had a bad night. … It’s not the first time I had a bad night, but I think what is important is that the fundamentals of what this race is about haven’t changed. Gov. Romney went to a lot of trouble to hide what his positions are. … One thing - maybe this is because I played a lot of sports when I was a kid and still do - if you have a bad game, you just move on, you look forward to the next one, and it makes you that much more determined. The difference between this and sports is that the stakes are so high.”

- Is Biden Muhammad Ali to Paul Ryan’s George Foreman? -
Vice President Joe Biden: I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to it. Nice of you guys to be here. Are you on the plane with us...?
Reporters: What’s your strategy – rope-a-dope?
Biden: You ever see me rope-a-dope?

Gut Check Full Service: Rope-a-dope means taking some punches in the beginning, in order to take advantage of your opponent once he is either tired or overconfident. Muhammad Ali used the strategy against George Foreman in the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle. Round after round, Foreman landed a number of punches on Ali, who leaned back on the boxing ring ropes. But once Foreman was all punched out and exhausted, Ali used his energy to land a number of punches to the head and knock out a beleaguered Foreman in the 8th round.

- The best advice Ryan ever received came from a Democrat -
BOB WOODWARD WRITES THE FOLLOWING ABOUT PAUL RYAN IN HIS BOOK ‘THE PRICE OF POLITICS’: “Ryan believed his most important challenge was learning how to be an effective lawmaker, and he began charting a path right away. … He sat down at one point with Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat known for his biting wit and powerful intellect. Though they were ideological opposites, Frank gave him what Ryan considered the best advice he got about how to be an effective congressman. Be specific, Frank told him, not a generalist. Focus on one set of issues. Get on the committee that you care about, and then learn more about the topic than anybody else.”

- Team Obama: Romney and Ryan politicized Libya attack -
OBAMA CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN STEPHANIE CUTTER IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S BROOKE BALDWIN: “The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It’s a big part of their stump speech,” Cutter said. “And it’s reckless and irresponsible.”

Gut Check Fact Check: The death of ambassador Chris Stevens was the first time an ambassador had died in a violent assault Adolph Dubs, the United States ambassador to Afghanistan, was killed during a kidnapping attempt.

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Jason Cherkis (‏@jasoncherkis)
Look like stills from '80s workout tape. RT @HuffPostPol: PHOTOS from Paul Ryan's @TIME workout photo shoot

Jim Acosta (@jimacostacnn)
Senior Romney adviser: Ryan to 'focus on substance' at VP debate

Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep)
O's Hispanic support is strong, not unanimous. CO voter: "If President Obama was Hispanic, as a Hispanic, I would be.. embarrassed."

wccubbison (@wccubbison)
Found a poll that Obama won 08 early voting with 56% in Ohio. Today polling says 63% and on pace to have many more total early votes.

Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew)
Stephanie Cutter says to CNN: "My job may to be spin, but its also to put the facts out."

Livable World (@Livableworld)
Nunn-Lugar non-proliferation programs in Russia to disappear along with Lugar? Russian bear barks.

Mark Campbell (@MrWordsWorth)
Obama leading in 7-11 coffee poll because most Obama supporters needed extra coffee to make it though his debate performance.

SPLIT SCREEN: Pew Survey shows One in Ten Americans – 11% – watched the debate on two screens (television along with computer or mobile device). That number rises to 22% with Americans under 40.

TONIGHT: CREATE YOUR OWN VIRAL MOMENTS... CNN is once again offering viewers the full televised debate online — including the pregame and postgame/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 get ready to make your own gut check moments tonight.


Ted Olson and Ron Klain have both been preparing their vice-presidential candidates for tonight’s debate, but Olson and Klain have more in common than just that.

Klain and Olson were both instrumental lawyers in one of the largest Supreme Court cases in recent years – Bush v. Gore.

Klain, who worked as Al Gore’s chief of staff from 1995 to 1999, was the first person to head to Florida from the Gore campaign. His goal: gather facts on the Bush v. Gore case.

Olson, who went on to serve as the U.S. solicitor general from 2001 to 2004, was the lead federal litigator on the Bush team. When the campaign divided the case’s legal duties into five areas, Olson, a respected lawyer from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, was tapped to head the federal law aspect.

Olson went on to argue that case in front of the Supreme Court. Klain did not argue for Gore – that task was given to David Boies.

(why aren’t you in it)

Today’s question was fairly difficult, so kudos go to Jonathan Kappler (@jonathankappler) for being the first person to correctly answer and Greg Dean (‏@gregdean11) for being second. Enjoy the debate.

Our inbox awaits:
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing
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.

Filed under: 2012
soundoff (3 Responses)

    If romney gets elected , the U.S should change from voter I.D to voter I.Q.

    October 11, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    Ask the people from Massachusetts why Obama gets 80% of the vote there. Ask them. They KNOW Romney.

    Romney did NOT work with democrats. Dems had a veto-proof majority and wanted health-care, so it was passed even though Romney would have vetoed it if he could have. Romney is a pathological liar. Ryan is too.

    He never raised taxes – but he enforced over 1000 new fees on the people. Unemployment was low because everyone moved out of state to find jobs. It's all in the searches you can do on Romney. Do some research.

    October 11, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    ok he heard mr. ryans warm and fuzzy post, how about one for v p byden

    October 11, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |