CNN's GUT CHECK for January 21, 2014
January 21st, 2014
05:51 PM ET
9 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for January 21, 2014

CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for January 21, 2014 | 5 p.m.
— n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING … FORMER VIRGINIA GOV. ROBERT MCDONNELL FACES CHARGES OVER GIFTSFormer Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, have been charged with accepting illegal gifts, a U.S. official said on Tuesday. The federal charges were filed in Richmond. McDonnell, a Republican who left office earlier this month, was once considered a potential White House contender in 2016. – Evan Perez

The list of gifts accepted by the McDonnell’s (not including travel and vacation home rentals) is featured on the final page of the indictment:

Black Rebecca Minkoff shoes;
Black Louis Vuitton shoes;
White Louis Vuitton shoes;
Cream Louis Vuitton purse;
Cream Louis Vuitton wallet;
Silver Rolex Watch engraved with "71st Governor of Virginia";
Yellow Peter Som dress;
Blue Armani jacket and two matching dresses;
Two Gold Oscar de la Renta dresses;
Black Louis Vuitton rain coat;
Gold Oscar de le Renta sweater;
One pair of Amelia Rose earrings;
One Gear sweatshirt;
Two pairs of Foot Joy golf shoes;
One button-down Ralph Lauren shirt;
One white Peter Millar golfshirt;
One baby blue striped Peter Millar golf shirt;
One royal blue Peter Millar golfshirt;
One aqua Fairway Greene Tech golf shirt;
One white striped Ralph Lauren golf shirt;
One Ping University of Virginia golf bag;
One Ping Kinloch golf bag;
One Sun Mountain Notre Dame golf bag;
Two sets of golf clubs;
One Heather Mackenzie water color and frame;
Two iPhones; and
30 boxes of Anatabloc®
Click here to see the full indictment on

MCDONNELL’S RESPONSE: "My fellow Virginians, earlier today federal prosecutors notified my attorneys that they have filed criminal charges against me and my wife Maureen, alleging that we violated federal law by accepting gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific. I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility. However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship. I never promised – and Mr. Williams and his company never received – any government benefit of any kind from me or my Administration. We did not violate the law, and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations, and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government."

A new Quinnipiac University survey indicates that Christie's favorable rating among voters has dropped to 33% from 47% last month.

…. AND AFFECTS THE HYPOTHETICAL HORSERACEAccording to the survey, Christie trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 38%-46%, in a hypothetical 2016 general election matchup. The governor held a one point margin (42%-41%) over Clinton in Quinnipiac polling last month. The biggest shift is among independent voters who were split between Christie and Clinton in December but now go for Clinton by a 15-percentage point margin. While Christie's lost ground to Clinton in a hypothetical matchup, the survey indicates he still performs better against her than any of the other potential GOP White House hopefuls tested.– Paul Steinhauser

MEANWHILE… CHRISTIE GETS STANDING OVATION … Christie took the oath of office for a second term in Trenton and then, buoyed by 2 minutes and 30 seconds of applause, launched into a speech that praised how his state came together to meet the challenges of economic recession and Superstorm Sandy, as well as the landslide re-election victory voters gave him last November. He did not mention the brewing scandals. – Tom Cohen. Josh Levs and Leigh Ann Caldwell

ON THE WEST COAST … KASHKARI LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR … Former Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari, 40, announced his candidacy for governor, saying “Today, the gift of a good education and the opportunity it creates are out of reach for millions of struggling Californians. That’s why I’m running for governor: To create jobs and give kids a quality education. Jobs and education. That’s it. That’s my platform.” Kashkari, who was responsible for overseeing the key financial relief program during the 2007-2008 financial crisis, will face Tim Donnelly in the Republican primary. Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has a substantial lead in early general election polls.

AND IN FLORIDA ….CHARLIE CRIST HIRES OBAMA CAMPAIGN ALUMNI: Former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist, announced via Twitter that former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina would be joining his campaign, “Help me welcome @Messina2012 to the People's Team. Join us at" The campaign later announced that Teddy Goff, digital director for Obama’s reelection campaign, would also be joining the Crist campaign. Crist’s campaign spokesman Kevin Cate followed up in a statement saying, “The People’s Governor is bringing together a winning campaign team so we can build a fairer economy for the middle class in Florida."

FLORIDA GOP RESPONSE BY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR SUSAN HEPWORTH: "As Charlie Crist tries desperately to cover up his failed record he will definitely need help from the ultimate spin doctor who sold the lie of the year that 'if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it.’”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: WILL RITTER, A FORMER ROMNEY AIDE AND GOP CONSULTANT, SPEAKING ABOUT CRIST: “Dem or Republican, I’ll do whatever I can to bury that iguana … For as long as I live. For free.”

THE BUZZ: MICHELLE OBAMA JOINS MIAMI HEAT PLAYERS IN A COMICAL “LET’S MOVE” INFOMERCIAL: The spot shows Mrs. Obama dunking a basketball and eating apples with Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra along with team members Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Ray Allen to promote healthy eating and exercise.
Watch the video here:

MARKET WATCH: Dow falls 43 points, paced by drops in Travelers, Johnson & Johnson and Verizon. Nasdaq gains 0.7%.

(Answer Below)
What establishment did Chris Christie lead a boycott against as a teen?

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: First on CNN: GOP urges candidates to stand ground on abortion
The "Resolution on Republican Pro-Life Strategy," drafted by Delaware National Committeewoman Ellen Barrosse and co-sponsored by 15 other RNC members, urges the party organization to "support Republican pro-life candidates who fight back against Democratic deceptive 'war on women' rhetoric by pointing out the extreme positions on abortion held by Democratic opponents." – Peter Hamby

Leading Hunterdon County Democrat: Carl Lewis says Chris Christie scandal puts his old allegation in new light
Three years ago, a plan to make Carl Lewis a “youth fitness ambassador” for New Jersey was scrapped by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration when the Olympic track and field star decided to run for state Senate as a Democrat, Lewis said today. – Matt Freidman

The latest blow to a weather-beaten region has snarled airports and interstates, closed schools and shuttered much of the nation's capital. Initially forecast to be a modest blurt of cold weather, the system is now packing a real punch. – Erik Ortiz and Henry Austin

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and wife Maureen were indicted on federal corruption charges Monday, the Washington Post reports. The couple is being charged for illegally accepting gifts while McDonnell was in office. Earlier this month, McDonnell acknowledged the scandal during his final State of the Commonwealth address, saying he was "deeply sorry" for any pain caused. – Ashley Alman

Leading New York Times: Obama Will Meet With Pope
President Obama, who has taken to citing Pope Francis as his rhetorical ally in his campaign to combat inequality in incomes and opportunity, will meet with the pontiff in March during a European trip, the White House announced on Tuesday. – Jackie Calmes

The political bites of the day

- Barbara Bush: Clinton thinks of H.W. as a father –
FORMER FIRST LADY BARBARA BUSH IN AN INTERVIEW WITH C-SPAN: “My husband, Bill Clinton and I have become great friends. I think that he thinks of George a little bit like the father that he didn’t have. And he’s very loving to him. And I really appreciate that. I love Bill Clinton, maybe not his politics, but I love Bill Clinton.”

- Russian PM: You can’t discuss Syria without Iran -
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RUSSIAN PM DIMITRI MEDVEDEV IN MOSCOW: “The thing that has happened with the withdrawal of the invitation to Iran I believe that’s unacceptable. Can someone think that the Syrian problem can be seriously discussed without the Iranian factor without their account of it?”

- Vitter’s candidacy comes with narrow focus -
LOUISIANA SEN. DAVID VITTER IN AN EMAIL DECLARING HIS CANDIDACY FOR GOVERNOR: “This will be my last political job, elected or appointed, period. So my only agenda will be to do what's best for all Louisianians, from our best and brightest to our most vulnerable.”

- Trump: Christie is ‘one email away from a disaster’ -
DONALD TRUMP AT AN EVENT TUESDAY MORNING AT THE NEW HAMPSHIRE INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: "He's a friend of mine. He's a good friend of mine. He's a good guy, but you know, he's one email away from a disaster.”

- POTUS compares al Qaeda to junior varsity -
PRESIDENT OBAMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE NEW YORKER: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

Gut Check Flash Back: LAURA AND GEORGE BUSH IN A JOINT INTERVIEW FOR CBS ON NOVEMBER 14 2010: George W. Bush: "I can remember a few examples when you (Laura Bush) said I was going down the wrong road, like, 'You better watch your language, buster.'" Laura Bush: "Well, that kind of thing, for sure," George W. Bush: "Wanted dead or alive, that kind of thing?" Laura Bush: "Yeah, that, and Bring 'em on," George W. Bush: "Yeah, I remember when I said that, and I got back, she said, 'Hey, you probably could put this a little better,’ … And of course, I said, 'What? Everybody understood what I meant!'" I was a little defensive, I must confess. But I mean, her point was, 'You're the President, and yeah, you're plain-spoken. But sometimes your plain-spokeness sends the wrong signals."

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza)
Fascinating to see Obama this week (in New Yorker) retreat from his old red/blue rhetoric, just as Christie adopts it as his 2016 theme.

Robert Costa (@costareports)
Hah: as Christie says he got biggest win in "3 decades," old timers on stage, on cue, turn to Kean Sr, who throws head back and chuckles

Ana Navarro (@ananavarro)
I thought he meant Cuba... “@ZekeJMiller: thinly-veiled Christie shot at de Blasio and Cuomo: " Let’s be different than our neighbors."”

Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore)
The Christie kids seem amazingly polished for their ages. Each spoke at inauguration, each was natural, at ease. They'll do fjne in Iowa.

Adriel Bettelheim ‏(@abettel)
Vitter could appoint his successor if he wins, keep his Senate seat and possibly seek re-election if he loses.

D Wasserman Schultz ‏(@DWStweets)
CNN reports GOP is urging candidates to talk more about restricting women's health care? … #WhatGOPRebrand

Jim DeMint (‏@JimDeMint)
Since when is being pro-life "extreme"?

Sara Ganim (‏@sganim)
Pa. Supreme Court won't hear Jerry Sandusky's appeal.

TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer

When Chris Christie was in high school, he organized a boycott against Heritage Diner in Livingston, New Jersey because the owner kicked him and his friends out for not ordering enough food.

Bill Giuliano, a baseball teammate of Christie’s, told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Katz that Christie organized the boycott, passed out leaflets and even wrote an editorial in the community paper about the incident.

Katz later wrote that the boycott worked, and Christie and his friends were eventually allowed to congregate at the diner without ordering food.

(Why aren’t you in it?)

Congrats to Melanie Parker (@parkerml) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check Trivia question.

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Larry in Houston

    that's too bad....I know several Independents that would have Voted for him, if he ever became the frontrunner, in 2016. I've even heard some say that he was the "best looking" out there, and was going to Vote for him, because of his knowledge on various things

    January 21, 2014 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Larry in Houston

    I get tired of hearing about – (and I'm sure others as well) the ""Hypothetical Horserace""
    She's not going to SAY until After the 2014 mid-terms – because IF it's what my "gut feeling" IS, Then she had better forget about it....Why ? because, Can you imagine fighting Congress for 4 years ? She will end up pulling her hair out, trying to "satisfy" everybody.....Even at that, she will still win all the poll numbers, versus the other guy...

    Bottom line is this : We will have a Democratic POTUS in 2016 for the next 4 yrs.....But not sure on Congress. They may be controlled by Republicans, for the next 4 yrs....when the mid-terms come around

    January 21, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. Don DaMiddle

    Compared to the money Tim Scott is getting for signing a "PAC Pledge" to serve lobbyists before America.
    His presidential campaign in 2016 will be the biggest war chest in history (all from anonymous corporations).
    Tim Scott is Owned & Operated by Norquist & the Koch Bros.

    January 21, 2014 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. J-Man

    Wait, this guy got some gifts and a loan he paid back at no interest. The giver and his company got nothing in return. There is a Federal investigation. Yet the former college and sorority sister of Michelle Obama gets a 650 dollar, not bid contract for a web-site that doesn't work but that is okay? How messed up is the Fed right now. Nobody can trust the current Federal Government.

    January 21, 2014 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. vegisa

    Th well e manufacturer makes the choice at manner a the maximum rate of manner a instinctively

    January 21, 2014 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  6. bill d Providence, RI

    Tell me, In what alternate reality was this guy living in? Nobody gives 10,000 dollar Rolex Watches as gifts to just a good friend unless he either want to sleep with that "good friend" or he wants some favor done for him. If this is one of the Republicans "brightest", then we are all in trouble if we elect more like this. Basically this is how the House and Senbate are run and the gifts they get is the money for their campaigns.

    January 21, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  7. pop

    Never heard of him.... But Christie Chris is more of rising star.

    January 21, 2014 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. Hooper

    There'll be a few posts sent in saying the following. " It's just another democrat witch hunt". It's always a remark made by someone too lazy or stupid to listen to anyone other that the likes of Sean, or Rush. Do the rest of us a favor, get a life.

    January 21, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |

    "I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he
    bounces when he hits bottom." – George Patton

    January 21, 2014 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |