CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 4, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
JUST IN: TAGG ROMNEY WON’T RUN FOR SENATE IN MASS… Tagg Romney, Mitt Romney’s son, in a written press release: “I have been humbled by the outreach I received this weekend encouraging me to become a candidate for the US Senate. I love my home state and admit it would be an honor to represent the citizens of our great Commonwealth. However, I am currently committed to my business and to spending as much time as I can with my wife and children. The timing is not right for me, but I am hopeful that the people of Massachusetts will select someone of great integrity, vision, and compassion as our next US Senator.”
DEVELOPING: OBAMA TAKES GUN SHOW ON THE ROAD… President Barack Obama heard Minneapolis officials discuss their steps against gun violence on Monday as the focus on possible legislation in the Senate appeared to narrow to expanded background checks and limited ammunition magazines, rather than a ban on semi-automatic rifles that mimic assault weapons. – Tom Cohen
Obama Urges Pressure on Congress: “Tell them there is no legislation to eliminate all guns. There is no legislation being proposed to subvert the Second Amendment. Tell them specifically what we are talking about - things that the majority of Americans, when they are asked, support. And tell them now is the time for action – that we are not going to wait until the next Newtown, or the next Aurora.”
NEXT UP: IMMIGRATION: A day after pushing the administration's gun control proposals on the road in Minnesota, President Barack Obama will sit down with groups to push for immigration reform on Tuesday, White House officials said. The president will meet with leaders of labor unions, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and an official of the Service Employees International Union, as well as representatives of progressive groups and some CEOs. – Kevin Bohn
SOCIAL WATCH: RECORD NUMBER OF VIEWERS WATCH SUPER BOWL… A record 164.11 million people watched Sunday night’s Super Bowl, making the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens the most-viewed show in U.S. television history, according to CBS.
With the Super Bowl behind us, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, will grapple with a number of tough issues this off-season. What issue did his father, a Republican senator from New York, herald in the Senate that cost him his seat?
The full page ad by 42 social conservative groups in USA Today urging the Boy Scouts of America to maintain its policy excluding gays is what caught our eye and made us think about a much broader battle that will take place next month. The Supreme Court will hear two cases regarding the rights of gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.
When the Court announced in December it would address this subject, CNN legal affairs expert Bill Mears wrote that for the High Court it would be “one of the most important issues in its history.”
Welcome to the return of the culture wars.
Even before we saw the USA Today ad about the Boy Scouts this morning, we were watching social conservative organizations try to rally their bases in blast emails and fundraising solicitations.
“The Boy Scouts of America, under intense financial pressure from homosexual activists, are considering changing their 100-year old policy of not allowing openly homosexual Scout leaders and Scouts,” Bob Vander Plaats of the Family Leader in Iowa wrote in an email Friday. “This pressure tactic is an attack on religious liberty, would teach our youth the wrong lessons, and should put every God-fearing individual on alert.”
Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, cut right to the chase Friday in a short email message to supporters. “I am going to need as many small donations of $15 as I can possibly get to put pressure on BSA leadership - so that they hear loud and clear that Christian America is outraged that the Boy Scouts would even consider such an action,” he wrote.
Last night, in a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS, President Obama weighed in clearly on the side of opening the Scouts to gay members. “My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and - and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life,” he said. “And you know, the Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that, you know, will serve people for the rest of their lives, and I think that nobody should be barred for that.”
We reached out to Tony Perkins to ask him about the proposed Boy Scouts policy change, and the president of the Family Research Council made it clear that he is not alone in opposing it.
“Homosexual activists have engaged in a non-stop, highly aggressive pressure campaign on prominent businesses, political leaders, and social institutions,” Perkins said in a statement to Gut Check. “The latest of these is the Boy Scouts of America, whose longstanding commitment to moral values has been subject to relentless pressure by homosexual activists and the corporations that are under their influence.”
He added, “However, thousands of phone calls continue to pour into the Boy Scouts' headquarters each day and demonstrate that Americans are increasingly fed up with the bullying tactics used by homosexual activists and the corporate elites. Americans are urging the Boy Scouts to stand strong because they know that bowing to these pressure tactics would only invite greater attacks on freedom of thought and religious liberty.”
As for next month’s cases before the Court, Perkins said, “Homosexual activists are also going to the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA because they know marriage is central to our culture and will impact religious and education institutions that have resisted the political pressure to conform. They will accept nothing less than the active embrace and celebration homosexuality from every corner of society. However, our message to Boy Scouts and defenders of marriage is the same: Show Courage. Stand firm for timeless values.”
The Human Rights Campaign, which bills itself as the “largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans” has its own campaign arguing that the proposed policy change by the Boy Scouts is “not good enough.”
“It would simply allow local units to decide on their own whims whether to turn members away just for being gay,” the Human Rights Campaign writes on its web site. “That doesn’t sound friendly, courteous or kind.
“Tell the Boy Scouts of America that lifting the ban is not enough; they must adopt an official non-discrimination policy.”
We shall keep an eye on this debate – and the language which is already fully charged on all sides.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Cantor gives the GOP a message makeover
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is giving the Republican party a message makeover. In a sharp departure from the GOP's emphasis on slashing federal spending, bringing down the deficit and moving legislation to assist the "job creators," the number two House Republican is rolling out a more personal appeal on Tuesday with an agenda to "make life work." Cantor is hoping to put last year's bruising fiscal battles that pit House Republicans against President Obama and Senate Democrats behind and turn the page to a new approach that demonstrates the GOP cares about problems Americans confront in their daily lives. The speech comes one week before the President is expected to outline his second term agenda in the State of the Union address. – Deirdre Walsh
Leading Drudge: Argentina Freezes Food Prices
Argentina announced a two-month price freeze on supermarket products Monday in an effort to break spiraling inflation. The price freeze applies to every product in all of the nation's largest supermarkets — a group including Walmart, Carrefour, Coto, Jumbo, Disco and other large chains. The companies' trade group, representing 70 percent of the Argentine market, reached the accord with Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno, the government's news agency Telam reported. – Almudena Calatrava
Leading HuffPo: Not So Fast: Paul Ryan Takes On GOP Scheme
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has come out against altering the way his state allocates its Electoral College votes, even though the proposed change could have meant that he and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would have won the 2012 election. Currently, nearly every state awards its Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who captures a majority of the popular vote across the entire state. Only Maine and Nebraska allocate an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district, with the final two votes going to the person who wins the popular vote statewide. – Amanda Terkel
Leading Politico: Hill Democrats want more love from President Obama
President Barack Obama and his top advisers have declared that they’re done playing “the inside game” in Washington, but one crucial Democratic constituency — his former colleagues in Congress — say the president shouldn’t deep-six a strategy that he only half-heartedly tried in his first term. As Obama prepares an aggressive public lobbying campaign for his ambitious second-term agenda, Democrats on Capitol Hill are bluntly warning him that he has to do more to engage them if he expects his congressional allies to take a series of politically tough votes. – Jonathan Martin and Manu Raju
Leading The New York Times: On Book-Tour Circuit, Sotomayor Sees a New Niche for a Justice
At her Wednesday night book talk here, Justice Sonia Sotomayor glided through her audience of 700, dispensing homespun wisdom through a cordless microphone, interrupted by impromptu applause. Welcome to another night in the life of Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court justice, current queen of the best-seller list and suddenly the nation’s most high-profile Hispanic figure. She may be a relative newcomer to national life, plucked from circuit-court obscurity less than four years ago. But the release of her new memoir, “My Beloved World,” suggests that she has broader ambitions than her colleagues, to play a larger and more personal role on the public stage. – Jodi Kantor
The political bites of the day
- McCain will not filibuster Hagel -
REPUBLICAN SEN. JOHN MCCAIN OF ARIZONA TO REPORTERS ON CAPITOL HILL: “I have not made up my mind about the vote but I do not support a filibuster. I don't think it's appropriate and I would oppose such a move. … I do not support a filibuster and I will try to make that argument to my colleagues.”
- Republicans hammer Obama, Democrats on budget -
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER IN A SPEECH ON THE HOUSE FLOOR: “President Obama missed a great opportunity today to help our economy. This was supposed to be the day that the president submitted his budget to the Congress. But it is not coming. It is going to be late and some reports say it could be as long as a month late. I think that’s too bad. Our economy could use some presidential leadership right now.”
HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN PAUL RYAN IN A PRESS RELEASE: “I’m disappointed the president has missed his deadline. But I’m not surprised. In four of the last five years, he’s failed to submit his budget on time. We still don’t know when we’ll receive the president’s request. And for nearly four years, Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget at all. We deserve better.”
Gut Check Full Service… Press Secretary Jay Carney in a press briefing aboard Air Force One says he has “no update” on the president’s budget and doesn’t have a date for the budget’s release.
- Bloomberg, Clinton eulogize Ed Koch -
MAYOR OF NEW YORK MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: “No one understood the job like he did and no one was more eager to talk about it. He was always available, always direct, always wise. For example, I remember the time we were talking about how to tackle obesity and he said `limit the size of sugary drinks. No one will notice.’ And then there was the time he told me `being mayor for three terms, it’s really great. Go for it.’ What could I do? Actually, shortly after Ed was first inaugurated he said quote, ‘I am going to act like a one-term mayor and as a result, I am going to be a three-term mayor.’ He knew from the beginning that the key to success lay in throwing political caution to the wind and it is easy to forget just how badly our city needed that kind of leadership because the New York that Ed inherited is almost unimaginable today.”
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: “He said, ‘you know, we have got to do something to convince these young people to quit smoking and there has just been a new study saying that it impacts virility.’ And he said `you know, this Viagra is a big deal.’ This letter is hilarious. He said `now, politicians don’t like to talk about this, especially among young people, but young people are way more sophisticated than older people and they get this. And it doesn’t work to tell people they are going to get cancer or respiratory diseases. Go after the virility argument.’”
Gut Check Full Color: As Koch’s casket was carried out of the synagogue, the organist fittingly played “New York, New York” as the mourners clapped.
- Kerry takes the reins at State -
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY IN A SPEECH ON HIS FIRST DAY ON THE JOB…
Serious issues: “I guarantee you that beginning this morning when I report for duty upstairs everything I do will be focused on the security and safety of our people. We have tough decisions to make but I guarantee I'll do everything I can to live up to the high standards that Secretary Clinton and her team put in place.”
And a joke: “Here's the big question before the country and the world and the State Department after the last eight years. Can a man actually run the State Department? I don’t know. As the saying goes, I have big heels to fill.”
- In France, Biden emphasizes global warming -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A MEETING WITH FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE IN PARIS: “There is a need, there's a need to set out a vision for the young people in both our countries that we understand. It's a rallying cry that can be called for united effort and support in both our countries to deal with global warming. The president is committed to do that and as I pointed out to the foreign minister, he is going to have an interlocutor in John Kerry. There is no one in my country who has been - over his period of time he's been in the Senate - more concerned with or knowledgeable about the issue relating to global warming.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
Player safety, player benefits and the league’s steroid policy – all of these issues will likely be addressed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the coming off-season.
These are markedly difficult issues, with a number of complicated stakeholders and years of built up problems. But the Goodell family has a history of speaking out on difficult issues.
Roger’s father, Charles Goodell, was a Republican politician in New York, serving nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1968, Goodell resigned his House seat to fill the Senate vacancy left by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. While in the Senate, Goodell became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and was roundly praised by anti-war activists like Jane Fonda, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn.
It was that position, however, that ended up hurting Goodell’s Senate run in 1972. Goodell was seen as too liberal for the Republican Party in New York even though he had the support of moderates. Many on the far right went on to support James L. Buckley, the eventual winner and Goodell finished third with 24% of the vote.
This trivia was inspired by a weekend tweet from David Axelrod that reminded us of the political connection:
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congratulations to Megan Goodrich (@MeganBGoodrich) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question. Goodrich is a first time winner!
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