CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 23, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: MILITARY TO OPEN COMBAT JOBS TO WOMEN… The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat, and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops. Multiple officials confirm to CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow, and notify Congress of the planned change in policy. – Chris Lawrence
RED MEAT: BOEHNER SAYS OBAMA’S SECOND TERM GOAL IS TO ‘ANNIHILATE’ GOP – Deirdre Walsh
DEVELOPING: CLINTON TAKES ON BENGHAZI CRITICS, WARNS OF MORE SECURITY THREATS… At times angry and choked with emotion, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday took on Republican critics of her department's handling of the September terrorist attack in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, but repeatedly distanced herself from a direct role in specific situations. – Jill Dougherty and Tom Cohen
ANGRY EXCHANGE: Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican serving his first term, persistently questioned Clinton about he called “purposely misleading” statements by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice following the Benghazi attack.
Johnson: “We were mislead that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, but you know, and the American people could have known that within days and they didn't know that.”
Clinton: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.”
EMOTIONAL REACTION: “For me, this is not just a matter of policy,” Clinton said. “It's personal.” In reference to the return of remains of the four slain Americans, Clinton said in voice choked with emotion, “I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.”
Who was the first Native American to serve in the United States Senate?
The chair, perhaps the most famous chair in recent political history stands in the office of a large, nondescript cement building just a stone’s throw away from the U.S. Capitol.
That’s right - the chair Clint Eastwood used as a prop in his rambling and at times incoherent critique of President Barack Obama at the Republican National Convention is now one of the many pieces of political memorabilia in Reince Priebus’ office on 1st Street in Washington.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee gets the joke. It’s the first thing he points out to a reporter before sitting down behind his desk to discuss how his party must dramatically rethink its strategy and message in hopes of recovering from the presidential drubbing of 2012.
Priebus on post-election fundraising: “I’ve been meeting with donors since the election in November. I would say I am pleasantly surprised how quickly the donors who have given so much are ready to build a party that is a year round operation. So my pitch generally, right now, is that we need to come up with a two and four year plan without regard to cost … that would spell out the dream scenario for our party moving forward.”
Priebus on the Republican primary process: “I believe that number one, we have to control the debates. I think that having over 20 debates is too many and I think we ought to regulate the debates, pick the moderators and get involved in setting the calendar.”
Priebus on immigration: “I think you are seeing a lot of movement from our party on these issues. A lot of it, I tell you, was tone. You know it wasn’t necessarily the policy on immigration, it was what is coming out of your mouth.”
Mark’s full article on Reince Priebus and the chairman’s vision of the next few years for the Republican National Committee will release tomorrow morning on CNNPolitics.com.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: House passes bill to defuse debt ceiling
The House on Wednesday passed the "No Budget, No Pay Act," a Republican bill that would effectively defuse the debt ceiling threat for several months. The bill would let the Treasury Department borrow new money until mid-May. In exchange, the legislation would require lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to pass a budget resolution or have their pay withheld until they do. – Jeanne Sahadi
Leading Drudge: Hillary Chokes Up, Lashes Out On Hill
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, testifying before Congress on the September attacks in Libya that killed four Americans, warned Wednesday that the United States must not retreat from hazardous diplomatic posts overseas. “We have come a long way in the past four years and we cannot afford to retreat now,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer, and our security at home is threatened.” – Anne Gearan and William Branigin for The Washington Post
Leading HuffPo: Hillary Throws Down! 'What Difference Does It Make?'
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got testy on Capitol Hill Wednesday in response to a query from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who called into question her department's accounting of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya. Facing expected scrutiny from Republicans during her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton appeared to take exception to Johnson's pointed inquiry into the State Department's initial report that the attack had been mounted spontaneously as a reaction to an anti-Islam YouTube video.
Leading Politico: Obama's big risk: The words he didn't say
Barack Obama’s foes, in candid moments, will often acknowledge that his most impressive trait is self-confidence. He has a sense of his own destiny, and an inner poise to keep focused on it even amid setback and distraction. Barack Obama’s admirers, in candid moments, will often acknowledge that his most unappealing trait is excessive self-regard. That’s when confidence curdles into an arrogance that can cause him to misread his circumstances and underestimate his opposition. – John F. Harris and Alexander Burns
Leading The New York Times: Obama Speech Leaves G.O.P. Stark Choices
President Obama’s aggressive Inaugural Address on Monday presented Congressional Republicans with a stark choice over the next two years: accommodate the president’s agenda on immigration, guns, energy and social programs and hope to take the liberal edge off issues dictated by the White House, or dig in as the last bulwark against a re-elected Democratic president and accept the political risks of that hard-line stance. As Mr. Obama’s second term begins, Republican leaders appear ready to accede at least in the short term on matters like increasing the debt limit. – Jonathan Weisman
The political bites of the day
- Boehner says Obama’s second term goal is to ‘annihilate’ GOP -
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER AT A REPUBLICAN PRESS CONFERENCE: “Given what we heard yesterday about the president's vision for his second term, it's pretty clear to me that he knows he can't do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans. So we're expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.”
- Rush doesn’t buy Hillary’s emotion or Republican’s questions -
RUSH LIMBAUGH ON HIS SYNDICATED RADIO SHOW: “It was a puke fest. It was unlike anything I've ever seen. It was right out of a banana republic. And I've seen it all. I mean, in my 62 short years I've seen a lot. I've never seen groveling, butt kissing, sucking up. I've never seen anything like Hillary Clinton's appearance before a joint congressional committee on that Benghazi guy who went nuts over there in Libya. And I guess everybody's favorite part, she lost her cool at one point. By the way, she opened up crying, which is part of the script. But our favorite part, she was asked by Sen. Johnson why they stuck with the story of the video to explain why the Benghazi guy went nuts. … Folks, I don't know how many of you saw it. Apparently a lot of you did. My e-mail is overflowing today with people in visceral reactions. We got audio sound bites of all it. You know what this was? This was perhaps, folks, one of the best illustrations of the whole concept that we've spoken here about on numerous occasions of the ruling class, the political class. It doesn't matter what party, they're all part of the ruling class, the political class in DC, and when the rubber hits the road, they all circle the wagons around each other. Well, the Republicans join in circling the wagons. The Democrats never do when it's a Republican involved, but for the most part they do. They close ranks, and they protect one another because what they're protecting is themselves.”
- NRA chief: Obama makes 'mockery' of American freedoms -
WAYNE LaPIERRE IN A SPEECH TO THE WEATHERBY FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL HUNTING AND CONSERVATIONS AWARDS…
On a gun registry: “There are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners — to tax them or take them. And to anyone who says that's excessive, Barack Obama says you're an "absolutist." He doesn't understand you. He doesn't agree with the freedoms you cherish. If the only way he can force you to give 'em up is through scorn and ridicule, he's more than willing to do”
On principles and absolutes: “I urge our president to use caution when attacking clearly defined “absolutes” in favor of his “principles.” Mr. President, just because you wish words meant something other than what they mean, you don't have the right to define them any way you want. Because when words can mean anything, they mean nothing.”
On guns as birthrights: “They're God-given freedoms. They belong to us as our birthright. No government ever gave them to us and no government can ever take them away. Mr. President, you may not like that. You may wish it were some other way. But you can't argue that it isn't true.”
- Republicans in the House begin to gloat on debt ceiling deal -
RORY COOPER, SPOKESMAN FOR HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER CANTOR, IN A STATEMENT TO THE PRESS: “When the economy was on the line Senate Democrats did not pass a budget. When their paychecks were on the line for one week Senate Democrats are finally coming around.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
SOCIAL WATCH: #whatdifferencedoesitmake: Clinton quote goes viral on Twitter… If Hillary Clinton decides to run for president in 2016, some critics on Twitter already know what slogan she should use: "What difference does it make?" In a heated moment of anger, the secretary of state asked the question as she fought back criticism before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday during a hearing on last year's U.S. consulate attack in Libya.
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Republican Sen. Charles Curtis of Kansas is widely acknowledged as the first person with Native American ancestry to serve in the U.S. Senate. Curtis was a member of the Kaw tribe and his maternal ancestry was three-quarters’ Native American.
It was on this day in 1907 that Curtis began serving in the Senate.
Curtis was more than just a groundbreaking senator, however.
Before serving in the Senate – where he became the president pro tempore and Senate Majority Leader – Curtis also served Kansas in the House for 14 years.
Near the end of his political career, Curtis was Herbert Hoover’s vice presidential running mate and upon winning, Curtis became the first acknowledged person with significant non-European ancestry to serve at the highest levels of the executive branch.
After serving one term as vice president, Curtis remained in Washington, D.C., until his death on February 8, 1936.
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