CNN's GUT CHECK for January 11, 2013
January 11th, 2013
05:15 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for January 11, 2013

CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 11, 2013 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

DEVELOPING: WHITE HOUSE: STILL COMMITTED TO ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN... President Barack Obama will seek passage of an assault weapons ban as part of a larger push for new gun control laws, an administration official said Friday. White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said, “The president has been clear that Congress should reinstate the assault weapons ban and that avoiding this issue just because it's been politically difficult in the past is not an option.” – Jim Acosta

BIDEN LAMENTS NO “SILVER BULLET”: At a meeting with representatives from the video game industry, Biden told the assembled press... “We know that it is – there is no silver bullet. There is no, as one of my friends said, no seatbelt that you can put on to assure that you will not be in this circumstance again. But I have asked the Cabinet to come together – the attorney general, homeland security, Department of Education, Health and Human Services etc. - because we know this is a complex problem. We know there is no single answer and quite frankly, we don’t even know whether some of the things people think impact on this actually impact on it or not. So, I want you to know that you have not been quote – singled out for help.”

(Answer below)
What was President Theodore Roosevelt describing when he said, “The ages had been at work on it, and man can only mar it”?

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

Every Friday in 2013, we will go back in presidential history and twist fate to change who faced off, and ask you: Who do you think would have won?

Today's Fantasy Politics: What if the 1988 presidential race had been Gary Hart vs. George Bush?

For a good part of 1987, former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart was the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. Hart was a moderate centrist Democrat that faired fairly well in the 1984 Democratic primary and to many, his nomination the second time around seemed obvious.

But rumors of extramarital affairs dogged the campaign. Hart responded to them by daring the media. “Follow me around,” Hart told the New York Times. “I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored.”

Hart proved to be very wrong. In May 1987, the Miami Herald published a story that accused the presidential frontrunner of having an affair with 29-year-old model Donna Rice. Hart’s approval began to plummet and he dropped out a week after the story broke, leaving the door open for a more liberal Democrat, Michael Dukakis, to eventually win the party’s nomination.

But Dukakis went on to be trounced by the Republican nominee, former Vice President George H.W. Bush, who both cashed in on the popularity of Ronald Reagan, his predecessor, and highlighted a strong economy. Bush went on to carry 40 states and 426 electoral votes, compared to Dukakis’ 10 states and 111 votes.

But suppose Hart’s campaign hadn’t imploded. What if Gary Hart had wised up about his tomcat ways and kept his pants zipped at least until after the election - or at least been discreet enough to not get caught fooling around?

Would a moderate democrat had faired better against Bush? Or would Bush have trounced Hart like he crushed Dukakis? Who would have won a Hart/Bush matchup in 1988?

We got great answers today via email (, Twitter @GutCheckCNN and Facebook, here are some of our favorites:

Carl Cannon (@CarlCannon), Washington editor of RealClearPolitics, writes, “When he first ran for president in 1984, Gary Hart represented a cool mountain breeze blowing across a stale Democratic Party prairie—and he gave Walter Mondale a hell of a run for his money that year. But by 1988, Hart had left the Senate and didn’t have as clear a rationale for his candidacy as he did four years earlier. Remember, Hart got back in months after dropping out because of the scandal. In his re-announcement speech, delivered on the steps of the state capitol in Concord, N.H., Hart said he was running because his ideas regarding “strategic investment economics, military reform and for enlightened engagement” were not being discussed by the Democratic presidential field.

“Yet, many of the ideas were not new; and, despite Hart’s assertions to the contrary, many of the other Democratic candidates were indeed talking about them. Moreover, as governors, Bruce Babbitt and Michael Dukakis had actually implanted some of them.

“In 1988, the Cold War was winding to a close—or, at least, we hoped it was—and Vice President George Bush offered a continuation of a foreign policy approach (notwithstanding the Iran-contra scandal) that Americans liked and believed was working.

“‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” Reagan had proclaimed. Bush was the vice president of the man who made voters believe that such a thing might actually be possible. In the end, I think that’s mainly why they chose George Bush over Michael Dukakis, and I believe they probably would have done so no matter which Democratic candidate had been nominated.” LINK

Jonathan M. Williams on Facebook wrote, “Hart may well have won this one. Many Americans were growing tired of the Reagan administration, especially following the events surrounding the Iran Contra scandal. Bush owes much of his victory to the ineffectiveness of the Dukakis campaign, which proved inept at answering the sensational tactics employed by Bush aide Lee Atwater… ”

Christopher Jolly Hale also came down in favor of Hart. He wrote, “I think Gary Hart would have beaten George Bush. The Bush campaign easily portrayed Dukakis as an out-of-touch Massachusetts liberal. Gary Hart was the Bill Clinton of the 1980s: a moderate, pragmatic progressive who appealed to the majority of Americans.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Connie Beach Maltin wrote simply that she, “still would have voted for Bush.”

Disagree? Make your case on our Facebook page.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: From Second Amendment to assault weapons ban: A look at U.S. gun laws
Mass shootings in 2012 reignited the debate over legislation to combat gun violence. Here's a look at laws already on the books in the United States dealing with firearms.

Leading Drudge: Obama: America Fell Short
In remarks with Afghan president Hamid Karzai at the White House this afternoon, President Barack Obama said the U.S. has fallen "short of the ideal" in Afghanistan. – Daniel Harper for The Weekly Standard

Leading HuffPo: HRC FTW
Hillary Clinton would be "the ideal Democratic presidential candidate in 2016,” sweeping her party's primary and besting potential Republican candidates other than Chris Christie, according to the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. The secretary of state has a 54 percent favorable rating among registered voters in polling released Thursday, with 39 percent viewing her unfavorably. Among Democrats, those numbers were 79 percent favorable to 15 percent unfavorable. – Ariel Edwards-Levy

Leading Politico: Tea party looks to D.C. insiders for help, cash
The tea party may have been built by the grass roots, but in order to survive, it’s going to have to rely on the Beltway political machines and big money groups it once disparaged. Tea party activists always worked alongside like-minded conservative organizations, but they failed to capitalize on the anti-Obama momentum in 2009 and 2010 to build their own infrastructure and war chests. That means national groups like American Majority, the Club for Growth and the Koch brothers-linked Americans for Prosperity are essentially in the position to determine if GOP incumbents face serious primary challenges. – Kenneth P. Vogel and Katie Glueck

Leading The New York Times: Gun Control Group Urges Expanded Background Checks
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the nation’s leading gun control groups, said on Friday that it wanted the White House to focus its attention on expanded background checks for gun buyers as part of a broad push to reduce gun violence in the wake of the school attack in Connecticut last month. The group made the recommendations this week to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and plans to release them publicly Friday afternoon. The Times obtained a copy of the document, which stresses that “closing the massive hole in the background check” system is the group’s top policy priority. – Michael D. Shear

The political bites of the day

- Obama, Karzai say U.S. troops will be in support role this spring -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH THE PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN HAMID KARZAI: “Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the entire country and by the end of next year, 2014, the transition will be complete. Afghans will have full responsibility for their security and this war will come to a responsible end. … Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission: training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty.”
KARZAI: “I'm very happy to hear from the president, as we also discussed it earlier, that in spring this year, the Afghan forces will be fully responsible for providing security and protection to the Afghan people and that the international forces, the American forces will be no longer present in Afghan villages, that the task will be that of the Afghan forces to provide for the Afghan people.”

- Gun control advocate argues slavery wouldn’t have happened if African-Americans had the right to bear arms -
LARRY WARD, CHAIRMAN OF GUN APPRECIATION DAY, AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ANNOUNCING THE DAY: “I believe that gun appreciation day honors the legacy of Dr. King. First of all we're looking for a peaceful protest, looking for people to come out and to remind the members of Congress and the president how we feel about our Second Amendment, and the truth is, I think Martin Luther King would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country's founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”

- Grassley doesn’t rule out limiting high capacity magazines -
REPUBLICAN SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY IN AN INTERVIEW ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION: “I think that’s a whole different issue that can maybe be dealt with without violating the Second Amendment, but I want to see the legislation.”

Gut Check DVR: This Sunday on State of the Union with Candy Crowley: The National Rifle Association says their meeting with VP Biden’s gun task force was disappointing. We’ll ask NRA President David Keene if there’s room for compromise. Bipartisanship will take center stage when we host Former Utah Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman and Senator Joe Manchin – the centrist Democrat from West Virginia. They’ve formed a group called “No Labels” which aims to encourage politicians to compromise and find solutions. State of the Union airs Sunday at 9 a.m. and noon eastern.

- Political ads and guns: 'The Silence in the Air' -
KANTAR MEDIA’S ELIZABETH WILNER WRITES IN THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: “Of the 1.2 million-plus spots aired in the presidential general election campaign, just 0.3 percent mentioned guns. Romney’s Spanish-language ad, which accused Obama of putting guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels through the ‘Fast and Furious’ program, aired a mere 125 times. Most of the occurrences were sponsored by the National Rifle Association’s political arm as part of an ad campaign warning voters in Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin that Obama and his Supreme Court picks threaten Second Amendment rights.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less












In yesterday’s Gut Check, we included a tweet that said Jack Lew was the first White House Chief of Staff to move directly from that role to a Senate-confirmable Cabinet post since Donald Regan, who became secretary of the treasury under President Ronald Reagan. As Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, informs Gut Check that is not correct. “As far as I recall, the last time a White House Chief of Staff left to be Secretary of Treasury? 1985,” Ellis wrote. “James Baker and Don Regan swapped jobs sending Baker to Treasury.”

We appreciate our vigilant readers!


The Grand Canyon is awe inspiring. To almost anyone who has seen the canyon walls change colors with the sun, to those who have hiked down to the Colorado River, the massive web of canyons in northern Arizona is truly a public treasure.

And on this day in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt validated that feeling by using his presidential power to declare the area a national monument.

“Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” President Theodore Roosevelt declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

In total, Roosevelt made more than 800,000 acres of land into a protected area by the federal government. Though it took Congress until 1919 to make private development in the area illegal, the canyon had enjoyed almost revered status since Native Americans moved to the area in the 13th century.

Today, over five million people visit the canyon yearly.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congrats to Jacques Stambouli (@stambouli) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Happy Friday all.

Tips or comments? Our inbox awaits:
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing

Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "If I use use "liberal logic", then the existence of strict gun laws will solve the problem.
    The problem remains. The gun laws have failed miserably."

    The problem remains. LOCALIZED gun laws have failed miserably.

    Tilt your heads back and open your throats, Teatrolls...a national solution is coming whether you like it or not. Cry me a river.

    January 11, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. I Wonder

    I wonder why this nation's leaders are for pressing this issue of assault rifle legislation yet standing just within feet of several professionals tasked with their protection holding, yes, assault rifles. The reason these professionals use assault rifles is because there are people in this world hell bent on hurting our elected officials using weapons of all kinds including firearms. If a ban on these weapons would solve a very complex problem, more a mental health issue than a gun control issue, are they willing to take these weapons away from the very people that protect them because the country is now safer with a ban on these weapons?
    I would agree that there are few practical uses for assault type weapons. But am I to believe a hunting rifle that shoots 5 shots is safer in the hands of a criminal or mentally handicapped person that a rifle that holds 30 rounds. The issue that continues to come forefront in my mind has two main factors. One, law abiding people will follow the law whether or not they agree with the ban or not, but criminals will not, and therefore will be armed against a now less capable law abiding citizen. Second, it is my second amendment right and a choice given to me by a seemingly intelligent group of forefathers. Am I to believe that the same group of law makers that could not come together on a fiscal issue is now more capable to protect my family than I am, I am not willing to take that chance. I am one citizen that is not or will not be giving up my second amendment right because of an issue that is becoming a political football.
    I would consider myself a moderate that generally rolls my eyes at the circus that has now become every issue in large political arenas. This is the issue that I draw my line in the sand. I am curious where others draw their line in the sand.

    January 11, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Gun-control law is only option.

    January 11, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Ed1

    Every week 50 children are killed by cars backing up. Should we require all cars and trucks on the road to have backup cameras they kill more children than mass shootings 2,600 kids a year. This was in the USA weekender this week check it out. How come we are not screaming at the to of our lungs demanding all cars and trucks should have backup cameras and if they don't then we should take the cars and trucks that don't taken off the road just think how many kids lives we would save a lot more than having knee jerk reactions to semiautomatic guns.

    January 11, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  5. sonnie3

    Hollywood keeps up the filming of violance and shows the killing with military style guns. The popular videos the kids can get show the same thing. All this crap is available on demand by some real problem kids and adolesants. So if this crap were taken away from the public, We would all be safer. It is a source of learning for troubled persons Parents need to step up to the plate also and watch what their kids are doing.

    January 12, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  6. mark/texas

    Very possibly the best statement ive read tonight. everybody has shot their mouths off not paying a single iota of attention to what was said on gun control and video games. too bad these people arent in office, we as a nation would really be in bad shape. wed wind up competing with n korea to be the first in stupidity by nuking the rest of the world and then conquering a dead planet with dying people.

    January 12, 2013 03:04 am at 3:04 am |