CNN's GUT CHECK | for October 15, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
DEVELOPING: ROMNEY PULLS IN $170 MILLION IN SEPTEMBER; $11 MILLION LESS THAN OBAMA … “Mitt Romney's campaign, along with the Republican National Committee, raised $170 million in September, the campaign announced Monday. The number comes more than a week after President Barack Obama's team said they raised a record $181 million for the president's re-election effort in the same month. … The GOP nominee's $170 million haul came in before Romney's widely proclaimed win in the first presidential debate.”
A campaign spokeswoman tweets that fundraising in October has been strong, too:
In possibly the most iconic town-hall debate moment, George H.W. Bush struggled to relate with a woman's question in 1992. What was her question about?
The political battle over Benghazi still has our attention.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been personally removed from the political volleying, has agreed to a round robin of interviews later tonight, including one with CNN’s Elise Labott.
Gut Check’s take on this, in layman’s terms, is that the Department of State is worried enough about the implications of the story to send out its high profile (and nationally popular) leader to defend its actions. It also means that the story in the next news cycle (yes, the same one leading up to tomorrow’s presidential debate) will be dominated by Hillary Clinton.
The battle has three main fronts:
1: The crucial debate over the security budget at the State Department. Many operatives have used the killings of four Americans to showcase the hardship in defending embassies in a world of widespread turmoil and budget constraints.
2: The presidential debate between the Romney and Obama campaigns over leadership abroad. Romney has used the event as an example of Obama’s “weakness” on what had been considered a key strength in the presidents bid for re-election.
3: The battle to (re)define Hillary Clinton’s legacy before the 2016 campaign.
Each of these fronts make Clinton’s decision to sit down with reporters and answer questions on the eve of a crucial presidential debate intriguing.
After all, it was in the last debate that Vice President Joe Biden re-ignited the issue by separating himself and the president from the State Department’s security decisions. “We weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again."
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, defended Biden on Friday saying, that Biden “was speaking directly for himself and for the president,” and that the security requests mentioned in congressional oversight hearings were “handled by security professionals at the State Department.”
The security professionals at the State Department, having navigated the Arab Spring and WikiLeaks, and are still reeling from the death of their revered colleagues, will be certain to demand an exacting defense from their secretary. As will her boss, the president.
And that diplomatic, political dance has already caught our eye.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Obama expected to 'come out swinging' at Tuesday's debate
After near-universal bad reviews of his first presidential debate with Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama will bring more energy and passion to his second showdown with the GOP nominee, advisers to the president said Sunday. Yet the come-out-swinging attitude many Democrats crave could be hindered by the debate's town-hall format, which requires a likability factor not completely compatible with aggressive attacks. – Kevin Liptak
Leading Drudge: Trick Or Treat: Candy Told To Follow Rules
The Commission on Presidential Debates does not want Candy Crowley, the debate moderator, to reinterpret audience members' questions - a small but important point in this ongoing debate over what role the moderator is meant to play in the town hall-format debate. – Dylan Byers for Politico
Gut Check Reality Check: CNN’s Candy Crowley: “There will be questioners to the right and the left of me and in front of the candidates and they will have the questions and as was the case in the Charlie Gibson town hall meeting and the Tom Brokaw town hall meeting in presidential campaigns past, there is a time after that for follow up and for furthering the discussion.” VIDEO
Leading HuffPo: 'It Sounds Crazy, But It's True' – The Tea Party Conspiracy You've Never Heard Of
If you don't know what Agenda 21 is, you're not alone – only about 15 percent of Americans do. It is a nonbinding U.N. resolution signed by more than 170 world leaders (including Republican U.S. President George H.W. Bush) at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro as a way to promote sustainable development in the face of a rapidly growing global population. A small percentage of Americans say it is an attack on their very existence – part of a grand conspiracy to take away their gun rights, destroy suburbia and turn America into a modern-day Soviet state. – Nick Carey for Reuters
Leading Politico: The 3 states that may decide the election
With less than a month until Election Day, the primary battlefields for the presidential campaign can be found in just three states: Ohio, Florida and Virginia. – Jonathan Martin
Leading The New York Times: Never to Be Outdone, Vegas Sets Record for Political Ads
No one comes here expecting anything in moderation. But to turn on the television these days is to shatter even Vegas-size notions of excess. More political commercials have been broadcast in this city than anywhere else, giving it the dubious distinction of being the most saturated media market in the most profligate year in American politics. – Jeremy Peters
The political bites of the day
- Ohio Senate debate centers on auto bailout, change in Washington -
REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE JOSH MANDEL: “I could not have supported a process that stripped pensions from middle class retirees, and stripped jobs from mechanics and salesmen throughout the state of Ohio. I will do everything I can in Washington to grow the economy through strong manufacturing policy, strong auto manufacturing policy, but I'm not a bailout senator. He's the bailout senator who bailed out Wall Street, Fannie, and Freddie, and large corporations.”
DEMOCRATIC SEN. SHERROD BROWN: “Josh, do you know about the Chevy Cruze and the Chevy Eco? The steel and the aluminum are made right here in Cleveland. The transmission comes out of Toledo. In Defiance, they build the engines. These are real jobs and real people that's a big part of the reason that before the auto rescue, well in early 2010, the unemployment in this state was over 10.5%, now it's under 7%. It's not good enough, there are far too many people still unemployed, but we're going in the right (direction).”
- Need proof at how much Ohio matters? -
PAUL RYAN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN OHIO: “Ohioans you know you have a big say... You know you're the battleground state of battleground states. You understand your responsibility, right? You understand your opportunity, right?”
- Senate candidate’s son flirts with birtherism at GOP event -
JASON THOMPSON, SON OF WISCONSIN SENATE CANDIDATE TOMMY THOMPSON, AT A REPUBLICAN PARTY EVENT IN WISCONSIN: “Ladies and gentlemen, America’s at a crossroads. The election here in November will chart our course as a country not only for our generation, but our kid’s generation. We have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago or Kenya.”
- Democrats: Where is Dubya? -
BRAD WOODHOUSE ON A DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CONFERENCE CALL: “The last Democratic president is going to be campaigning for President Obama. … President Clinton is popular in his post-presidency. He is going to campaign for the president in critical battleground states. It raises a question: Why is George W. Bush not campaigning for Mitt Romney? George W. Bush is not campaigning for Mitt Romney, because George W. Bush's policies crashed the economy. He's an unpopular former president, and he really wouldn't do Mitt Romney any good on the stump, but guess what Mitt Romney wants to do? He wants to repeat George W. Bush's economic policies.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
All in all, the 1992 town-hall debate was a bad few hours for President George H.W. Bush.
Facing off against independent candidate Ross Perrot and Democratic challenger Bill Clinton, Bush made two gaffes that many political watchers say helped cost him the 1992 election.
The first was an exchange with a questioner.
“Yes, how has the national debt personally affected each of your lives,” questioned the woman in the crowd. “And if it hasn’t, how can you honestly find a cure for the economic problems of the common people if you have no experience in what is ailing them?”
“I think the national debt affects everybody,” Bush responded. “Obviously, it has a lot to do with interest rates …” The president was then interrupted with a follow up from the woman.
“How has it affected you on a personal basis,” she pressed.
“Well listen, you ought to be in the White House for a day and hear what I hear and see what I see and read the mail I read …” Bush responded directly. “Of course you feel it when you are President of the United States and that is why I am trying to do something about it.”
The response made Bush seem cold and out of touch with real people and directly contrasted the style in which Clinton answered the question.
This is the same debate in which Bush famously checked his watch while Clinton answered an audience member’s question, a move that made him look uninterested in answering America’s questions.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Lots of correct answers today, but Evan Goldstein (@egoldstein93) was first. Shout outs to Jonathan Kappler (@jonathankappler), Kevin DeWine (@KevinDeWine) and Greg Dean (@gregdean11) for also answering correctly.
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