CNN's GUT CHECK for January 25, 2013
January 25th, 2013
04:42 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for January 25, 2013

CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 25, 2013 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

NEW CHIEF IN THE WHITE HOUSE: OBAMA NAMES MCDONOUGH AS CHIEF OF STAFF President Barack Obama named one of his closest and most trusted advisers as his chief of staff Friday, the fifth man to hold the job since Obama first took office in 2009. Denis McDonough, who served as Obama's deputy national security adviser since 2010, was announced to the post at a White House event Friday. Obama told a packed East Room that McDonough is a "great friend to me and to everyone who works here in the White House.” “Nobody outworks Denis McDonough,” Obama said later – an important trait for the person responsible for a White House staff of hundreds and for controlling access to the president. – Lesa Jansen and Kevin Liptak

MORE STAFF SHAKE UPS: In addition to McDonough, Obama announced these new jobs on Friday...
Rob Nabors – Assistant to the President and Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Policy
Lisa Monaco – Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and Deputy National Security Advisor
Jennifer Palmieri – Assistant to the President and Communications Director
Dan Pfeiffer – Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor

OFF TO THE RACES: ANALYSIS: JINDAL LAYS DOWN 2016 MARKER If Vice President Joe Biden's high-fiving, hand-shaking, wide-grinning, zig-zagging jog down the inaugural parade route Monday was viewed as the kickoff to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, then Jindal's loud call to rescue conservatism was the beginning of the battle on the other side. Surrounded by reporters in a semicircle that quickly became whole after his speech, Jindal dismissed a question about whether he was eyeing a run for the White House in 2016, saying that any Republican thinking that far ahead “needs to get his head examined.” – Mark Preston

(Answer below)
What president held the first live television news conference?

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

One year ago this week, Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary, blunting Mitt Romney's momentum and challenging the Palmetto State's perfect, modern day prediction of picking the GOP nominee.

When we arrived in South Carolina for our CNN primary debate, we did not know the intense 24 hours of political upheaval that awaited us.

The morning of the debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the race, and cameras documented the drama as we removed Perry's podium from the debate set, setting up the primary and debate with intense energy.

Adding to the furor on the ground were the proud South Carolinians holding banners declaring: "We pick presidents" - a nod to their track record at anointing the chosen one.

So, in our Friday Fantasy Politics tradition, let's say South Carolina got it right; ;hat Gingrich's momentum after an influx of money and strong debate performances translated into him securing the GOP nomination.

Could Gingrich have defeated President Barack Obama?

Here are some of our favorite answers:

Former Gingrich Chief of Staff @PatrickMillsaps e-mailed us: “I wouldn’t have worked for Newt if I didn’t know that he could have beaten Obama. ... They could have sold tickets and charged pay-per-view for a Newt v. Obama debate — they probably still could. Newt was the one person who could have led the GOP out of the wilderness in 1994. He could have done the same thing in 2012.”

On Facebook, the majority of responses said that Obama still would have won in November:

Dominic Zboyovsky: Obama would have still won, plus he would have carried Indiana and North Carolina as well.

Janet Price: Obama, of course. Newt has far toooooo much baggage.

Monte Hovland: Newt would have a better chance than Romney because he is a conservative. But, Obama is Santa Clause. All he needed to do is promise his sheep free stuff and he got their votes.. Its hard to beat Santa..

Ben Oldach: Moon bases tend not to bode well for nominees.

But Newt was far from shut out:

Ryan J. Gesund: It would be interesting, with the Citizens United money, to see if Newt would have won. Newt at least was steadfast in his beliefs and wasn't for something until he was against it. The GOP would have had a clear platform to run on.

Harriet Brown: You can never predict what will happen in an election. But, dislike him as I might, Gingrich was the only one of those Republicans who was qualified to be president.

Louis Molnar: At least Gingrich's 'heart' was into it. Even before Romney finally decided to run with the urging of his wife, he really didn't want to (as confirmed by his son, after the fact).

Disagree? Make your case via email (, Facebook, and Twitter (@GutCheckCNN).

Gut Check DVR: Gingrich will be on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer in the 5 p.m. hour Friday.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Washington gridlock linked to social funk
It is a common refrain on the Hill - the idea that if Congress were more social, more buddy-buddy outside the Capitol complex, that it would be more functional in doing the people's work. The truth is not that simple, according to former leaders of the Senate and House. The nostalgia for the "good ol' days," when members would play tennis atop the Hart Office Building and drink whiskey after hours, may be tempting to admire, but it is far from the cure-all for Washington's seemingly unbreakable gridlock, they say. – Dan Merica

Leading Drudge: Court To Obama: Abuse Of Power
In a case freighted with major constitutional implications, a federal appeals court on Friday overturned President Obama’s controversial recess appointments from last year, ruling he abused his powers and acted when the Senate was not actually in a recess. The three-judge panel’s ruling is a major blow to Mr. Obama. The judges ruled that the appointments Mr. Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board are illegal, and the board no longer has a quorum to operate. – Stephen Dinan

Leading HuffPo: Blame Game: Groups Fight Gop, Rubio 'Myth'
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Wednesday that labor unions could kill comprehensive immigration reform unless President Barack Obama and other Democrats are willing to stand up to them on the issue of citizenship and give something less to undocumented immigrants instead. It's a common trope among Republicans, who claim left-leaning groups are as much to blame as those on the right for past failures on immigration reform. But labor groups, including the AFL-CIO, reject the notion that they will need to cave on the need for a pathway to citizenship - and Rubio's allegation that it would be their fault if reform efforts fail this time around. – Elise Foley

Leading Politico: Barack Obama’s new ‘grass-roots’ group isn't quite
When President Barack Obama rolled out his new political outfit last week, he and his allies declared it would be powered by grassroots activists and change politics from outside Washington. Not exactly. In its first days, Organizing for Action has closely affiliated itself with insider liberal organizations funded by mega-donors like George Soros and corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Citi and Duke Energy. – Kenneth P. Vogel, Tarini Parti and Byron Tau

Leading The New York Times: Obama Shakes Up White House as He Names Chief of Staff
President Obama shook up his White House staff on Friday, installing a new team largely made up of familiar faces moved to different positions as he gears up for an intense push on sweeping legislation early in his second term. Mr. Obama named Denis R. McDonough, a longtime aide and currently the principal deputy national security adviser, as his new White House chief of staff, and shuffled around a series of other officials in the West Wing. – Peter Baker

The political bites of the day

- Chambliss cites the ‘dearth of meaningful action’ as reason for retirement -
REPUBLICAN SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS OF GEORGIA IN AN WRITTEN STATEMENT: “After much contemplation and reflection, I have decided not to run for re-election to the Senate in 2014. …This is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation’s economic health. The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 and the recent fiscal-cliff vote showed Congress at its worst and, sadly, I don’t see the legislative gridlock and partisan posturing improving anytime soon. For our nation to be strong, for our country to prosper, we cannot continue to play politics with the American economy.”

Gut Check Full Service: Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia on potential Georgia Senate race… “Dr. Price is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received. He is speaking with a number of folks across the state of Georgia and listening to their observations and advice. He'll continue to listen and make a decision and announcement at the appropriate time.”

Gut Check Full Service x 2: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on potentially running for the vacated seat... “Callista and Newt saw the news reports this morning Saxby Chambliss is stepping away from the U.S. Senate. They both admire Saxby for his dedication to Georgia and his service in Congress. Looking ahead, Newt Gingrich will not be a candidate in the '14 GOP Senate primary, but Newt will be ready to support the candidate Georgia Republicans nominate.”

- More red meat from Ted Cruz -
On winning election: “In the next two years, I intend to focus, number one, on winning the battles, doing as much as we can to shrink the size of government, to shrink the debt, to get economic growth growing. … Number two, I intend to focus on winning the argument, making the case to the American people that freedom works. … But number three, critical to that is in making the argument: winning elections. Margaret Thatcher famously said, “First you win the argument, then you win the election.” In 2014, there will be Senate races all over the country that I think are critically important. I believe Republicans can win a majority of the Senate in 2014. It’s not going to be easy, but I think it’s possible. If we stand together, if we stand for principle, I think we can take a majority of the Senate, and I think, taking a majority of the Senate is an important step to being able to advance these principles, to being able to shrink the size and power of government, to shrink the debt and to get economic growth growing.”
On the media: “I try to pay very little attention to the media. It is, as you know, a fickle creature. They can say anything today, and tomorrow, it can change dramatically.”

- White House: immigration ‘is a top legislative priority’ -
THE OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY AT THE WHITE HOUSE IN A WRITTEN READOUT OF THE PRESIDENT’S MEETING WITH CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS LEADERSHIP… “The President and Senior Administration Officials met this morning with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the need to make things fairer for and grow the middle class by fixing our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules. The President thanked the Members for their long standing leadership on the issue, and reiterated that this is a top legislative priority.”

Gut Check Full Service: Chairman Rubén Hinojosa in a written statement after the meeting… “At this meeting and through our nine principles of immigration reform, we have made it crystal clear that any bill that does not include a pathway to earned citizenship will not have our support. In the next few weeks and months, the CHC (Congressional Hispanic Caucus) will remain committed to CIR and dedicate all our efforts to ensure legislation will make it to President Obama's desk.”

Gut Check Full Service x 2: Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick on solving the immigration debate “The nation's capital is awash with ideas about how to fix America's immigration policy. The sudden ferment on this issue, which was largely dormant since efforts at comprehensive reform were torpedoed five years ago, is as welcome as it is overdue. … The immigration system is like a jigsaw puzzle. If one or more pieces are out of whack, the puzzle makes no sense. To fix the system, Congress must make sure all of the pieces fit together, logically and snugly.”

- Romney goes to Washington… for Alfalfa Club dinner -
A FORMER SENIOR ADVISER FOR MITT ROMNEY IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT TO THE PRESS: “This is really a social visit. He deliberately did not inject himself into the political discussion between the election and the inauguration while the President was laying out his agenda for a second term. But Gov. Romney does care deeply about America and its place in the world and from time to time he will speak out on issues.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod)
If we start choosing electors by Cong. districts, presidential elections will be hostage to warped redistricting, just as House is today.

Molly Ball (@mollyesque)
Reince Priebus reelected chairman of the RNC. The 2 delegates from Maine are the only no votes.

David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker)
.@Reince uses an old sales & marketing term discussing GOP need to reach new voters: "We need to ask for the order."

Caroline Horn (@CNHorn)
Herman Cain statement on Saxby Chambliss' Senate seat: "No I'm not running!" #GASEN

Olivier Knox (@OKnox)
Years ago, a copy editor put "Saxby Chambliss" through spellcheck. Resulting story named a "Sexy Chablis." cc: @laurenclaffey @StCollinson

Rick Klein (@rickklein)
Clinton spox says, belatedly, that Hillary's glasses related to "lingering issues stemming from her concussion."

Jennifer Scoggins (@JenScogginsCNN)
#CNN contributors @MargaretHoover & @JohnAvlon talk love, politics & more in this insightful intv. Listen

John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain)
My vote is for Ronald Reagan! @dcsportsbog: "Nats will unveil new Racing President on Saturday" … #LetTeddyWin


If President Franklin Delano Roosevelt mastered radio and President Barack Obama mastered social media, it is President John F. Kennedy who mastered the use of television.

Kennedy became the first president to hold a live televised news conference on this day in 1961. According to his press secretary Pierre Salinger, the reason his administration opted to put the president on live television boiled down to reach.

“The fact of the matter is that the time when President Kennedy started televised press conferences there were only three or four newspapers in the entire United States that carried a full transcript of a presidential press conference,” Salinger said in an interview with the John F. Kennedy Library. “Therefore, what people read was a distillation. . . . We thought that they should have the opportunity to see it in full.”

This press conference, held less than a week after his first inauguration, was viewed by an estimated 65 million people – over 35% of the 183 million people who lived in the United States in 1961.

Kennedy averaged a press conference every 16 days, according to his presidential library, and averaged an audience of 18 million viewers.

“President Kennedy helped to significantly enlarge the role of television as a news medium, but he continued to be a voracious consumer of print journalism,” the library website states.

(why aren’t you in it)

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Filed under: 2012
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    GOP/Teatrolls want to blatantly break the electoral college and election system so that even a Dem winning by 5M+ popular votes would lose the race for the WH to the GOP/Teatrolls' 2016 cardboard cutout of a Bircher.

    CNN response: "This needs to be treated as though it's not a big deal and potentially legitimate so that we maintain the appearance of being "fair and balanced" at all costs. If the democracy goes to crap and 2016 results in riots in the streets due to the GOP/Teatrolls trying to rig the system to favor the minority of the country, then we'll make a mint off it anyway."

    Cowards. Stand up for something...for your country and its basic promise of democracy...for once.

    January 25, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. CanadaONE

    In 2014 GOP are GONE


    Mitt Robme – STRIKE ONE
    Fiscal Cliff – STRIKE TWO
    Disrepect for Hillory – STRIKE THREE

    YOU ARE OUT !!!!!!

    January 25, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Nice image of Newt the Lobbyist .

    January 25, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. zastaw na nieruchomości

    Touche. Sound arguments. Keep up the great effort.

    January 25, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. Name lynn

    Obama is electing people for the seats in the white house, just like them none speaking republicans elect boehner back in the white house what a drag.

    January 26, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  6. Ancient Texan

    CanadaONE- The center-right country did not suddenly flip to far left just because Obama spent a Billion dollars demonizing Romney. Too Many Conservatives stayed home because Romney was not conservative enough or because he was some religion other than their own. They will be back when they see what a huge mistake they made by allowing Obama to win by defaut.

    January 26, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  7. Randy, San Francisco

    Republican paranoia that President Obama is out to destroy their party is misplaced. They are doing a good job of it themselves. Rebranding will be painfullly unsuccessful because of denial and resistance by extreme social and fiscal conservative and Tea Party wings of the party. It is the message and not the messenger that is the problem, something outreach leaders to minority and women voters don't understand.

    January 26, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |