CNN's GUT CHECK for October 16, 2012
October 16th, 2012
04:42 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for October 16, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for October 16, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle


BY THE FLIP OF A COIN: ROMNEY WILL GO FIRST: Mitt Romney will get the first question at Tuesday's second presidential debate. Pre-game begins at 7 p.m. ET on CNN; the debate begins at 9 p.m. CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will moderate the town-hall-style debate.

UNCOMMITTED: Tuesday night’s debate audience is comprised of "uncommitted" voters, not "undecided" voters. There is a difference and here is how the Commission on Presidential Debates describes them: "The Gallup Organization was directed by the Commission on Presidential Debates to recruit a sample of uncommitted voters who agreed to be a part of the Town Hall panel for the October 16th presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The participants were recruited as part of a random sample of all residents living in Nassau County, New York. Each resident contacted as part of this random sample was asked a series of questions about voting status and candidate vote choice, and those who met the screen for uncommitted voters were invited to be a participant in the debate. Uncommitted voters are those who either have no preference for a presidential candidate at this point, or who have a preference but are not committed to a candidate and say there is a chance they could vote for the other candidate."

(Answer below)
In the 2000 town-hall debate, Al Gore famously stood and got close to George W. Bush: an attempt, some said, to intimidate the Texas governor. What congressional bill was Gore asking about?

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

“I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. … The financial recession has taken an enormous toll on my family. My husband and I have joked for years that we thought we were well beyond the hot-dogs-and-beans era of our lives, but quite frankly, it's starting to knock on our door and - and ring true that that might be where we're headed again. And, quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly: Is this my new reality?”Velma Hart, Obama supporter, in a CNBC town hall in September 2010

As the countdown to the town-hall debate begins at 9 p.m. ET, we can’t stop thinking of how one of the best questions that Barack Obama has faced in his presidency was not by a journalist but an average American: a working mom and American veteran named Velma Hart who asked him whether she had any reason to still hope for change.

The president tried to answer her – and took more than four minutes in an attempt that failed to connect. In the last hours of debate prep for Obama and Romney, we are wondering how they each can answer the patriotic concern and the sincerity of the struggle of Hart and the many Americans like her we are lucky enough to meet on the campaign trail. How can they connect to personal, economic hardship?

Americans look to the presidential debates for windows into whose vision and competence to trust in a world replete with uncertainties. That’s why Tuesday night’s debate is so important: Voters will get a chance to see the candidates answer direct questions from their fellow Americans about the struggles that face our nation and the challenges that lie ahead.

Simply put: The debate is a national gut check.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: John King: Stakes enormous in second debate
The expectations are very different for Obama vs. Romney, Round 2. And the stakes are enormous. Democrats are nervous. A race many of them thought was a lock just a few weeks ago is now a dead heat, the momentum with the other side. Republicans are upbeat, seeing a chance to not only build on the battleground state progress made as a result of the first debate, but also possibilities to expand the fight into states long thought safe in the Obama basket, Michigan and Pennsylvania chief among them. – John King

Leading Drudge: Gallup: Women Turning Away
A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of the Swing States shows Mitt Romney with a lead among likely voters as he strengthens his standing with women in the nation's top battlegrounds.

Leading HuffPo: Supremes: Ohio Early Voting Can Proceed
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a last-gasp appeal by Ohio Republicans and approved early voting for Ohio residents on the weekend before Election Day. Ohio's Secretary of State John Husted had refused to enforce last week's appellate court decision, in which a three-judge panel came down on the side of the Obama campaign and blocked a law that would have limited early voting. – Dan Froomkin and Trymaine Lee

Leading Politico: 5 unmet promises of President Obama
President Barack Obama swept into office in 2009 with the strongest electoral mandate in a generation, majorities in both houses of Congress and promises of dramatic change in Washington. But that was no guarantee of success. – Josh Gerstein

Leading The New York Times: Town Hall Format Poses Risks for Obama and Romney
As President Obama and Mitt Romney prepare for their debate on Tuesday night, they face an unpredictable variable that was not a factor in their previous encounter: the common voter. Both presidential candidates have had some of their most awkward and politically fraught moments when confronted directly by voters. Tuesday’s debate will force as many as a dozen such encounters, any one of which could become a crucial moment in the campaign’s remaining weeks. – Michael Shear

Leading CNN Money: Bailout CEOs: 7 gone, 2 left
Another bailout CEO bites the dust. With the departure of Citigroup's Vikram Pandit on Tuesday, only two of the nine original CEOs still lead the big banks that received $125 billion in bailouts during the height of the financial crisis. – Jennifer Liberto

The political bites of the day

- Senior Romney adviser to John King: We like our new map -
“If you had told us a year ago that we would be three weeks out and in a jump ball race with a personally popular president and the outcome hinged on winning states that are traditionally GOP in presidential years, we would have taken that scenario in a heartbeat."

- Ryan on Biden’s debating: Not my kind of “temperament” -
PAUL RYAN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH WTNT IN VIRGINIA: “You know, I could tell, I could see what he was doing, because he was sitting right next to me. The way I look at this, that’s just not my style or my demeanor. That’s just not the kind of temperament I have, nor was it the way I was raised to try and have a debate like that. So I figured, he’s going to act like he’s going to act. I’m going to be me. … And that’s the way he chose to conduct himself and act, and I just wasn’t going to follow suit.”

- Hillary Clinton, after falling on the sword, stresses team effort -
CNN’s Elise Labott: We have an election coming up. Rationale is that this is to go against President Obama. But some people think it’s to stop Hillary Clinton from making any gains for 2016.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: That is just so far from anything that anybody should be thinking about.
Labott: They still see you as a threat, Secretary Clinton.
Clinton: Well, I can’t speak to that. The only threats I’m worried about are the threats to my men and women on the ground every day as we speak. It’s what I’m obsessed with. It’s what we’ve worked so hard to evaluate, and of course we’re part of a team. We’re a team with DOD; we’re a team with the intelligence community; we’re a team with the White House and other assets of the government.

Gut Check DVR: For Clinton’s debate advice for her former rival and current boss, tune in to CNN’s pre-game show at 7 p.m. ET.

- How the questions will get selected -
FRANK FAHRENKOPF, CO-CHAIR, COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “First of all, they don't submit them to the commission. The only person who will see those questions is Candy. We have no control over it. We do not see them. As many are submitted, they've been told if they want to ask a question to write it down on two cards. One considered they'll keep with them so that if they are called on by candy, they'll have their question ready for her. She divides them into two stacks, foreign policy and domestic policy and she makes the determination.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less







If We Must… 5 things to watch for in Tuesday’s debate


It was a brilliant moment of awkwardness: Vice President Al Gore literally standing up next to Texas Gov. George W. Bush during the town-hall debate in 2000.

“I specifically would like to know whether Gov. Bush will support the Dingell-Norwood bill, which is the main one pending,” Gore said.

After a brief refocus by moderator Jim Lehrer, Bush took on the question.

“The difference is that I can get it done, that I can get something positive done on behalf of the people,” Bush said. “That is what the question in this campaign is about. It’s not only what’s your philosophy and ‘what’s your position on issues,’ but ‘can you get things done?’ ”

Near the end of Bush’s answer, Gore stood and walked closer to the governor. Bush then turned to Gore and gave him a casual nod – a move that acknowledged his presence but also brushed it off.

The crowd broke into laughter, both candidates smiled, and Gore decided to take the opportunity to push Bush again. “What about the Dingell-Norwood bill?” Gore questioned with a smile.

What Gore was doing depends on whom you ask. Some said he was projecting masculinity, while others say he was looking to intimidate Bush. What happened, however, is that rather than coming across as masculine and intimidating, Gore’s move was criticized as grandstanding.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to first-time Gut Check winner Allen Fox (@AllenFox) for correctly answering today’s trivia question. Brian Dawson (@heybriandawson) and Matthew Gilbertson (@MattRGilbertson) also answered correctly.

If you would like to get mentioned in Gut Check because of you trivia prowess, just follow @GutCheckCNN on Twitter and respond to our daily trivia question.

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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.

Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. cbr

    Not sure about this format. Will the best questions be asked? The petulance of one of the candidates is not being challenged. The hard questions are not being asked and the rest of us will have no opportunity to do so.

    Who will ask about Norquist and his hold over the candidate? The allegiance to Billy Graham now that Mr. Graham has agreed to stop calling the Mormon religion a cult? Mr. Graham should never have called it a cult in the first place. Just another man deciding about the religions he will or will not acknowledge. How many of us knew that fact.

    October 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Obama, ask 47% comment-quote "let Detroit go bankrupt, England is not ready for Olympics, I hate poor, Corporations are also people, my friend, " etc., hit him very hard. Hillary said it is state secretary job, more so when 9/11 happened in USA where are GOP???? Good luck. Joe did excellent–you do the same. Bain capital shipped jobs to china... I think I can debate with "THAT IDIOT" easily. Yes, on OBAMA12. Still strong for USA and Obama.

    October 16, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. Patrick

    They pick locals from Nassau County? The debate is going to not be 1 on 1 or 2 on 1 it will be 82 on 1. Romney is in for a hostile room tonight.

    October 16, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    I predict Crowley will finally seal the deal on the widely and quickly spreading perception that CNN is making a massive shift rightwards.

    October 16, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Reince Priebus has accused Hillary Clinton of letting Barack Obama off the hook on Libya"

    Well, Lord knows, the only ones allowed to be ";et off the hook" are the GOP/Teatrolls and Mittens. Someone needs to quickly tell Hillary so she can amend what she said and get back in line with teh IOKIYAR rules of the universe that the MSM lives by. BTW, Politico is just another apologist outfit helping the GOP sell untruths and misinformation so they;'ll have a controversy to report on, so why should we listen to anything you have to say, you blatant hack?

    October 16, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    CNN: Official site of the Mitt Romney Reach-Around. Better make sure you lick Mittens balls tonight, Candy, or they'll be creaming about how objective...I mean were like they did to Raddatz. And you wouldn't want your precious Sunday morning GOP-Teatroll softball question love-fest to get black listed now would you?

    October 16, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Inde Di

    I am surprised that people are impressed by theatrics but not at what policies Romney will put in place. This is the danger of putting so much emphasis on debates and I am shocked at how suddenly people are running towards him becasue he put on a good show with lies. A man only looking out for the have and have mores. I don't care how the president does, even if he tanks, he still remains the one that cares more about ordinary people. My vote is clear.....absolutely no Romney for me.

    October 16, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. PJ

    Waited all day for the story about Ryan and his fraudulent "visit" to a soup shelter.
    We have seen pictures of this idiot with his "kill",
    picture of the wannabee Macho Man excercising,
    but no picturesof him and his family washing clean pans, wearing spotless aprons, at a closed soup kitchen.
    Nobody was there but his camera crew.
    Where is that story?????????????????????????
    The manager of the kitchen was upset and said he would not have allowed anybody to come in and
    wash clean dishes.
    Again, where is this story??????????????????? My gut tells me somebody is biased.

    October 16, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. Travis

    @ Patrick
    They're picking locals that are uncommitted. Those are voters who either have no preference for a presidential candidate at this point, or who have a preference but are not committed to a candidate and say there is a chance they could vote for the other candidate.

    I don't think it will be a 82 on 1 as you say. I think this is going to help those people determine who they want to vote for. Myself though, I fall into the category of having no preference. They both seem to be good at reading off of their cue cards and that's about it. Hopefully I'm wrong and there will be more specifics tonight from both men, but I won't hold my breath.

    October 16, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The 1% know what Romney's economic and tax plan is otherwise they wouldn't continue to contribute millions to his campaign but Romney doesn't think working class Americans need to know and that 1% is threatening loss of jobs for those working in their companies if they don't vote Romney. Republicans constantly talk about whose unamerican and it appears to be them. Let them take jobs away but they will never take Americans integrity or dignity away, we're better than that.

    October 16, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    The MSM dynamic here is pretty simple: Obama has to shoot the lights out to get a "tie" verdict, but Mittens just has to show up. The pre-determined narrative is "tie" no matter what the idiots in the MSM claim. After all, there's still one more debate via which to sell advertising time, so the "news" has to set up its horse race rubber match.

    October 16, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. bria

    Please do not believe the hype about this so call debate jump. The real poll are the poll numbers coming from early voting where they have President at 56% and Romney at 31% those are the real poll numbers there. I think if they had not did all of the sneaky under handed stuff that they did to try and stop people from voting i think this would have been closer but believe me they awoke a giant and now they are ready to vote. They took people who were not thinking of voting and turned them into serious voters.

    October 16, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Larry in Houston

    I think the party might be over for Somebody after tonite – but don't know who it is yet. I'm a democrat – and have always supported a democrat . but since obama didn't move to the middle in several different issues, he may as well enjoy his time left in the white house. If I was Obama, I would order up from the white house chefs the best food there is , such as I would order up banana splits every nite for my 2 kids – have the chefs prepare me a porterhouse or a filet practically every nite, with margaritas for my mother-in-law & everything else you can think of, and I would take advantage of every "perk" there is, especially since I've only got a few months to live there. As a matter of fact, I would invite all of my friends to play basketball in the white house court, and take advantage of the bowling alley.

    May the Best Man Win – 2012
    Hillary – 2016 – ( with a 'surplus' in – 2018 )

    October 16, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  14. becky

    I hope someone asks Mr. Romney about the rights of those who are gay. We have watched as sons and daughters, friends, sisters and brothers have had the chance to be open about their relationships. Most of us have still want calmer voices to prevail. This generation and those to come deserve to live their lives in peace. No one should even think about taking away these rights. If a religion does not have room for those who are gay or lesbian that does not mean that the followers of the religion should have the right to step in and make decisions about the way people live, what rights are there for them, what programs should benefit them, and who they may marry, live with, or if they may raise children.

    If these rights are eroded we will have very difficult four years. The person elected to the presidency must follow the law of the land promise to uphold these laws and support these laws even as that person is vowing not to raise taxes.

    October 16, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  15. becky

    Aha. Mr. Ryan's visit tot he soup kitchen. He came after the patrons had left and the workers had finished. They left him some pots to wash. He did not intermingle with those using the soup kitchen. How does that show support for that kitchen or those who are patrons. Guess he did not want to meet with them because he would have to tell them that they will lose these programs. As members of 47% he and Mr. Romney will not be worrying about them. Of course, it will be up to those of us who care about people and who are willing to pitch in so these kitchens and food pantries can continue.

    October 16, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  16. Dan B

    Why is everyone who is commenting on this article an Obama supporter.

    October 16, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |