CNN's GUT CHECK | for March 20, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
ALL OPTIONS: Obama and Netanyahu talk tension with Iran… President Barack Obama said at a press conference on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “all options are on the table” regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, adding that “we will do what is necessary in preventing Iran from getting the world's worst weapons.”
CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA: President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the Syrian government's “use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people would be a serious and tragic mistake,” adding that Damascus “will be held for accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists.”
AMERICAN BOUNTY: The State Department has put a multimillion-dollar bounty on the heads of two Americans who the United States claims belong to an al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, CNN has learned. – Elise Labott
LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN WASHINGTON… Nearly 3 in 4 Americans said they are dissatisfied with how the nation is being governed, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll. Americans would also equally hold President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans responsible if the government were to shut down, according to the survey.
MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks end higher after Fed says stimulus will continue. Dow adds 57 points. NASDAQ rises 0.8%, S&P gains 0.7%.
Who was the first American president to visit Israel?
Harlan Hogan, the notable voice actor, coined the phrase: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Gut Check Fact Check: Hogan clearly never took politics into account.
History is littered with politicians that have been embarrassed by their failings, sought redemption and successfully reintroduced themselves in the public arena.
Last night, another chapter in the book of political atonement was written when former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford finished first in Tuesday's Republican primary for the U.S. House.
Sanford is well known for an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman that discredited his time as governor. In 2009, the governor became infamous for abandoning his state while telling reporters he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. In reality, the married governor was visiting his mistress in Argentina.
It became a national story, Sanford resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and he was censured by his state legislature. On a personal level, he and his then-wife, Jenny, divorced.
On Tuesday, over 19,000 Republican voters in South Carolina voted to accept Sanford’s second chance at an introduction. He is now headed to a runoff for his party’s nomination.
And Sanford seemed humbled by the opportunity.
“There's this amazing reservoir of human grace out there that's a reflection of God's grace, and I've seen it first hand,” Sanford said in an interview after his first place finish.
“Life is a series of course corrections,” Sanford told CNN before the election. “Some days you get right and you surprise yourself on how right you get them. Other days you disappoint yourself and a lot of others."
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: GOP looks to red states' successes for answers
While Republican Party leaders are knee-deep in mea culpas and issuing public floggings over election-year losses, they are heaping hosannas on the governors and statehouses out in the red states of middle America and the South. That praise is well-deserved. In places such as Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana and Wisconsin, Republicans control the governor's mansion and the legislature. In all, 30 of the nation's 50 governors and 28 of the country's legislatures are Republican. – Halimah Abdullah
Leading Drudge: Limo Breaks Down In Israel
One of the limousines in Barack Obama's fleet has broken after reports that it was mistakenly filled with the wrong fuel at the start of the US president's visit to Israel. Another limo is on its way from Jordan, according to Ma'an News agency, citing Israel's Channel 10, to replace one that was filled with diesel instead of gasoline. – Matthew Weaver with the BBC
Leading HuffPo: Here's The Deal: Massive Obamacare Challenge Remains
Nearly three years after President Barack Obama enacted landmark health care reforms, the American public remains uninformed and divided about the law, according to survey findings released Wednesday. – Jeffrey Young
Leading Politico: Menendez donor courted Obama, Reid
Salomon Melgen had a knack for going straight to the top. He posed for pictures with President Barack Obama, flew Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his private jet and sought advice on a port security deal from an ex-CIA agent who helped lead the hunt for Osama bin Laden, POLITICO has learned. – Kenneth P. Vogel and Tarini Parti
Leading The New York Times: Arriving in Israel, Obama Seeks to Offer Reassurance
President Obama traveled to Israel on Wednesday in a symbolic two-day visit to the country, the first of his presidency, bearing a message of solidarity and a promise to defend Israel from threats. – Mark Landler and Jodi Rudoren
The political bites of the day
- Contempt for Congress goes international -
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU UPON HIS ARRIVAL TO ISRAEL… “It's good to get away from Congress.”
Gut Check Full Service: House Speaker John Boehner reacts to Obama in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper… “So much for the charm offensive,” he said with a laugh. “I’d rather be heckled than ignored. Or as I like to say, you only tease the ones you love.”
- ‘No evidence’ of chemical weapons -
ROBERT FORD, THE U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA, IN A COMMITTEE HEARING ON CAPITOL HILL: “So far we have no evidence to substantiate the reports that chemical weapons were used yesterday. But I want to underline that we're looking very carefully at these reports. We are consulting with partners in the region and in the international community. More broadly, we have been very clear from the beginning about our concern that as the Assad regime's military situation deteriorates and it becomes, as the director of national intelligence said, it becomes ever more beleaguered, that it might be tempted to use chemical weapons.”
- Rush: Democrats need ‘dumbed-down, totally dependent population’ -
RUSH LIMBAUGH ON HIS NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO SHOW: “The Democrats know exactly who their audience is. They are perfectly happy with a dumbed-down, totally dependent population, perfectly happy with that. Because they view themselves as elitists anyway. They don't need those people to make the country work. They don't need a thriving, growing middle class. The Democrats need, in fact, a permanent underclass that is constantly dependent. And as members of that underclass somehow managed to become educated and more economically prosperous and move out of the underclass, they got to be replaced. They got to find more poor, uneducated, uninformed people who will remain deadlocked Democrat voters. Hello amnesty. It's exactly what it is and exactly what it's all about.”
- Pelosi predicts ‘we will before summer have comprehensive immigration reform’ -
MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI IN A SPEECH TO THE UNITED STATES HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: “The good news is that we really do think that on one issue that has been brought up, on the immigration issue, that we will before summer have comprehensive immigration reform. It is just and thank – applaud yourselves, applaud yourselves at the role that you played. Nothing spoke more clearly. You know the expression `your vote is your voice?’ Well that vote was a voice for immigration reform. It spoke very eloquently to the strength of the Hispanic community in our country.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
President Richard Nixon was the first U.S. leader to visit Israel when he landed in Tel Aviv in 1974.
Although the White House said the two-day trip was part of a wider effort to calm the region after the Yom Kippur War, many in America saw the trip as a way for Nixon to get away from the Watergate scandal that was plaguing his administration.
Nixon also visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria during the trip.
President Barack Obama is currently on a three day trip in Israel, making him the fifth president – including Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – to visit the nation.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Big up to Doug Adams (@DAatNBC) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question correctly. Nice work.
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