CNN's GUT CHECK for October 17, 2012
October 17th, 2012
05:37 PM ET
7 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for October 17, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for October 17, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle


- Obama: The choice is a ‘sketchy’ one -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN IOWA: “Let's recap what we learned last night. His tax plan doesn't add up. His jobs plan doesn't create jobs. His deficit reduction plan adds to the deficit. So Iowa – everybody here has heard of the New Deal, you've heard of the Fair Deal, you've heard of the square deal – Mitt Romney is trying to sell you a sketchy deal.”

- Romney: Obama has one more debate to find a Plan for the Next Four Years -
MITT ROMNEY AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN VIRGINIA: “I think it is interesting that the president still doesn't have an agenda for a second term. Don’t you think that it is time for him to finally put together a vision of what he would do over the next four years if he were elected? I mean he has got to come up with that over this weekend because there is only one debate left on Monday. I just think the American people had expected that the president of the United States would be able to describe what he is going to do in the next four years. But he can't. He can't even explain what he has done in the last four years.”

LESS TALK, MORE WORDS: Although Mitt Romney spoke 3 minutes and 14 seconds less than President Obama, he delivered 478 more words overall in Tuesday night’s debate:

Obama: 44:04 – 7506 words
Romney: 40:50 – 7984 words

This also happened in the first presidential debate – Obama spoke for a longer period of time, while Romney said more words:

Obama: 42:50 – 7294 words
Romney: 38:32 – 7802 words

(Answer below)
On this day in history, Jimmy Carter restored citizenship rights to which American?

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

The co-existent power and frivolity of social media has caught our eye and frustrated our news instincts, as a compelling debate over women’s pay turned into a comedy competition online.

The study of how Mitt Romney’s answer about equal pay turned into a social media bonanza reveals the simultaneous frustration and amusement with our current news environment.

The fact that this water cooler bonanza over “binders of women” originated from the question of a 24-year-old female pre-K teacher from Floral Park, New York, makes the resulting ricochet more staggering.

Katherine Fenton stood up last night to ask, “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72% of what their male counterparts earn?”

When it was Romney’s turn to answer, he talked about his experience of having difficulty recruiting female candidates as governor of Massachusetts:

ROMNEY: “We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

“I went to a number of women's groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women. … Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But No. 2, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.

“She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.”

Romney’s answer touched on something more complex than equal pay: the struggle to get a diverse applicant pool interested in public service as well as providing flexible work arrangements for recruitment and retention. That answer was interesting not just because of public policy, but because it is a current, active debate in corporate – and suburban - America.

However, that debate, which was well-received by our CNN focus group, was overshadowed by the fact that Romney used the term “binders full of women” – a phrase that jumped 214,000% on Facebook within an hour of the debate. Instead of being frustrated – or intimidated - by the viral message shift, the Obama campaign and its allies jumped on the meme, creating hashtags, websites and videos around the theme; co-opting the humor to fit their political story line. This afternoon, the DNC organized a conference call with Lilly Ledbetter and Cecile Richards to discuss Romney’s “referring to women as resumes in binders.”

Just as Bill Clinton and his saxophone did with MTV and late-night talk shows in 1992, the Obama campaign has nurtured a different audience with its embrace of social media.

What is left to be seen is how the women voters like Katherine Fenton react. She told her local paper she didn’t get the answer to her question. Perhaps she has solace that two weeks ago, people looking for answers about the role and size of government were overwhelmed by Big Bird.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Analysis: Romney whiffs on some easy pitches
Ahead of Tuesday night's debate in Hempstead, New York, people wondered whether the town hall format, in which voters tend to place a premium on the appearance of civility, might limit the opportunity for attacks. But niceness isn't an attribute that tends to top the priority list for most New Yorkers; it was clear from the first moments of the debate that both men came ready to brawl. – Rebecca Sinderbrand

Leading Drudge: Gallup: R 51% O 45%

Leading HuffPo: Binder Brouhaha
Vice President Joe Biden and GOP vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) disagreed over Mitt Romney's remark in the presidential debate Tuesday that he asked women's groups to bring him "binders full of women" to fill cabinet positions as governor of Massachusetts. – Luke Johnson

Leading Politico: Obama fights back
He showed up. An animated and aggressive Barack Obama clawed back Tuesday from his somnambulant first debate — and an often defensive Mitt Romney battled moderator Candy Crowley of CNN nearly as often as he went after the president. – Glenn Thrush

Leading The New York Times: Debate Moves Women to Fore in Race for the White House
President Obama charged that Mitt Romney’s policies are economically threatening to women, as the candidates in their second presidential debate on Tuesday night clashed repeatedly over who would best serve the interests of the country’s largest and most critical constituency. – Michael Shear

The political bites of the day

- The running mates react to the second presidential debate -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN ON NBC: “I think President Obama was absolutely at the top of his game last night, and I also think that he was able to clearly draw a picture between a future under Obama and a future under Romney. And the thing that amazed me the most was even after three debates, his two and my one, there is still not a single specific in the Romney $5 trillion tax plan. I mean, everything, everything is sketchy.”
REP. PAUL RYAN ON NBC: “Well, he clearly changed his tactic. They said that he would change his tactic but his answers didn't change. He didn't offer new idea about how the next four years would be any different than the last four years. The reason why I think Mitt Romney won this debate is because he gave the country a very clear choice and a very clear vision for about how we have a leader that will create jobs, grow the economy and get people back to work.”

- Candy: ‘I was trying to move this along because the question was Benghazi’ -
CNN’s CANDY CROWLEY, MIODERATOR OF THE SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN: “I was trying to move this along because the question was Benghazi. There is no question that the administration is quite vulnerable on this topic. That they did take weeks to go ‘Well actually there really wasn’t a protest and actually didn’t have anything to do with the tape.’ That took a long time. That’s where he was going. That was [Romney’s] first answer. … Then we got hung up on this: ‘Yes he said - no I didn’t - I said terror - you didn’t say terror.’

“And there was this point where they both kind of looked at me. … And what I wanted to do was move this along. … So I said, (Obama) did say ‘acts of terror.’ … But Gov. Romney, you are perfectly right, that it took weeks for them to get past the tape.”

- Portman stresses early voting in Ohio -
SEN. ROB PORTMAN AT A CAMPAIGN RALLY IN OHIO: “You can actually go down to the Board of Elections and you can vote right after this rally. They're open eight to five every day this week including today. Will you vote early? We want to bank those votes. If you vote early, you know what happens? You're then free on Election Day to get other people to the polls.”

- Biden references Binders in campaign speech -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN COLORADO: “You heard the debate last night. When Gov. Romney was asked a direct question about equal pay he started talking about binders. Oh!! The idea that he had to ask where a qualified woman was - he just should have come to my house. He didn’t need a binder. He didn’t need a binder! And I mean it.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Rob Frankel (@brandingexpert)
Debate 1: "Big Bird" Debate 2: "Binders Full of Women" And there you have the net results.

Howard Fineman (@howardfineman)
My friend Joe Trippi says that if Obama had performed in the first debate like he did last night, the election would have been over by now.

AdamSerwer (@AdamSerwer)
Obama isn't just deporting "gang bangers" and it was misleading for him to suggest so

John McCormack (@McCormackJohn)
Gallup: Romney 51, Obama 45 This doesn't capture last night. Poll taken Oct. 10 through 16. VP debate was Oct. 11

Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight)
In 2000, Gallup showed a 24 point swing to Gore over 5 weeks. Swings this year have actually been pretty tame.

CNN Natl Security (@natlsecuritycnn)
No rush to push through U.S. training for elite Libyan force, @mikemountcnn reports

Joel Palmer (@PoliticalLogic)
Talk show icon Larry King agrees to moderate debate of 3rd party presidential hopefuls


One hundred and thirteen years after the civil war ended, then-President Jimmy Carter posthumously restored “the full rights of citizenship to Jefferson Davis,” the former president of the Confederate State of America.

With the establishment of the confederacy, Davis’ citizenship in the United States (he was born in Kentucky) was revoked. After being captured on May 10, 1865, Davis was tried for treason and his rights to run for office were revoked.

“Our Nation needs to clear away the guilts and enmities and recriminations of the past, to finally set at rest the divisions that threatened to destroy our Nation and to discredit the principles on which it was founded,” the bill restoring Davis’ citizenship said. “Our people need to turn their attention to the important tasks that still lie before us in establishing those principles for all people.”

All confederate generals were stripped of their citizenship following the Civil War. Robert E. Lee’s citizenship was posthumously restored two years earlier – in 1976.

(why aren’t you in it)

Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) tweeted the first answer, but boxer Muhammad Ali was not correct. Congratulations to Matthew Gilbertson (@MattRGilbertson) for being the first to correctly answer Gut Check Trivia.

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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: 2012
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. sandy

    When Clinton left, there was peace, a balanced budget and a surplus instead of national debt. Bush spent the money on war and "other causes" that depleted what Clinton built up. That left Obama to clean up the mess. It took Clinton 8 years to clean up after the first Bush and it eill take Obama 8 years to clean up after the second Bush.

    October 17, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  2. NameDonna Bryn

    I think about the tone of our election process, and the continual "blaming" of our current president and am frustrated. NO ONE elected to office in 2008, inheriting the economic and global conditions as they were, could have brought our country farther than Barack Obama has in his term. It takes time to facilitate change. It requires a thorough evaluation of what has happened or existed in the past, combined with an analysis and implementation of alternative options, to elicit improvement. When a proponent of an idea is not supported, the change and improvement is delayed. Opponents of President Obama continually ask for his "plan" for the next four years. I believe he should address the question by saying that he will continue what he started. The work is not done, but progress is evident.
    I am employed as an early childhood teacher. I see the net value of the incredible investment our administration, along with many state governments, has made. They looked beyond the status of our nation's "bank account" and instead banked on its future- our children. My experience over the past twenty years in geographically AND socioeconomically varied educational settings has ingrained in me the importance of education. In today's society it is critical that we invest more tax dollars in education. The gains are measurable and we simply cannot afford NOT to do so. One year in a quality preschool program, under the guidance of a well-qualified, dedicated teacher, affects much more than one year of a child's future. Research shows that for every $3 invested in early education, our country saves $7 in future costs, which could be welfare program costs, the cost of incarceration, or even health care costs that many of these children and their families will no longer require. It is this kind of thinking and PROACTIVE decisions that will lead our country to social progress and economic growth. We cannot simply reinstate policies and past laws that are irrelevant in today's society and expect growth. We cannot blame our leaders for interpreting our Constitution and Bill of Rights with consideration for the perspective of a person of non-European descent when that coexistent population, particularly youth, will soon become our nation's majority. Immigration and deportation are real issues for these individuals, their religious freedom is questioned, their inability to fully communicate in English is ridiculed, their perceived "value" as citizens is lessened. Yet it is this diversity of viewpoints, religions, cultural backgrounds, and even physical appearance that makes our country so "rich-" NOT a financially sound economy. I spend a fair amount of time teaching the value of patience and teamwork. It is these values along with a positive, collaborative tone that will move our country forward. Let's take advice from the littlest. Let's finish what we started- we are on the right track.

    October 17, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  3. Name Barry

    People r not thinking wat person would jus make things up for the sake of having control ova america? It saddens me that mitt romney needs 2 make himself look good jus so he can drive the country back 2 where we jus came.from reccession

    October 17, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. Allan

    Obama was given the last word 8 of 11 times. That wasn't an accident. Candy Crowley should be fired along with members of CNN's editorial staff and management.

    October 17, 2012 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  5. Lauri

    I am a woman voter, I was dismayed and offended at the way the debate was handle especially when it came time to talk about Pres. Obama's response on Libya.

    As a moderator you're not supposed to weigh-in on the subjects. You failed miserably.

    October 18, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |