CNN's GUT CHECK for February 17, 2014
February 17th, 2014
05:11 PM ET
8 years ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for February 17, 2014

CNN's GUT CHECK | for February 17, 2014 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

ON PRESIDENTS DAY, OBAMA’S APPROVAL RATINGS REMAIN NEAR THE LOWEST OF HIS PRESIDENCY … According to a CNN Poll of Polls compiled Monday, which averages the most recent non-partisan, live operator national surveys, the President's approval rating stands at 42%, with 53% of Americans giving a thumbs down to Obama's performance in the White House. – Paul Steinhauser

Gut Check Full Service:
Obama’s Approval Rating on Past President’s Days
2014 … 42%
2013 … 51%
2012 … 45%
2011 … 48%
2010 … 49%
2009 … 64%

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ON THE TRAIL WITH MITCH & RAND… CNN’s Dana Bash reports: You wouldn’t think it would be noteworthy for two senators from the same state and the same party to share a stage, but it is with Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, who are spending the day together in eastern Kentucky. Gone are the days when McConnell wanted Paul’s GOP opponent to be his partner in the Senate. To hear McConnell today, it’s almost an all-out bromance.

“I’m pleased to be here with Senator Paul who does a fabulous job representing our state in the US Senate,” McConnell said, one of several notes of praise McConnell sang throughout the day. A McConnell source tells CNN these events were planned last month, but the timing couldn’t be better for McConnell after what happened last week – angering the GOP base by providing a pivotal vote to break a debt ceiling filibuster waged by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX.

McConnell-land insists they’re much more focused on his re-election in November, than his GOP primary challenger Matt Bevin, but McConnell is minority leader now largely because other establishment Republicans (Dick Lugar, Mike Castle… the list goes on) didn’t take challenges from the right seriously. He is clearly determined not to make that mistake.

Shoring up his base by appearing with tea party darling Rand Paul is shrewd politics for McConnell. Take this McConnell comment today as case in point: “The junior senator from Kentucky is a national figure already, deeply involved in the national debate about the direction of this country. I couldn’t be prouder to call him my colleague – Senator Rand Paul”

POLLS: PUBLIC'S IMMIGRATION PRIORITIES CHANGING … A second-straight national poll indicates that may Americans have shifted their priorities when it comes to immigration reform. According to a Gallup survey released Monday, 44% of those surveyed say it's extremely important for the United States to develop a plan to deal with the large number of undocumented immigrants. Forty-three percent say the top priority should be beefing up border security to halt the flow of undocumented workers into the country.

- McCain: I won’t give up on immigration reform -
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZONA, TO CANDY CROWLEY ON CNN’S STATE OF THE UNION: “I have not given up hope that we will act – and we must act … I won't give up. We have the broadest coalition of support of any legislation I've ever been involved in - big businesses, small businesses, evangelicals, Catholic Church - the list goes on and on. It's time for those people to weigh in and bring pressure to bear and say look, we need to act.”

Wall Street Journal reports: The Oakland, Calif., company plans to roll out a new advertising service next week that would enable candidates and political organizations to target the majority of its 73 million active monthly Pandora listeners based on its sense of their political leanings … How can it do this? The company matches election results with subscribers' musical preferences by ZIP Code. Then, it labels individual users based on their musical tastes and whether those artists are more frequently listened to in Democratic or Republican areas. Users don't divulge their political affiliations when they sign up for Pandora. – Elizabeth Dwoskin

MARKET WATCH: U.S. stocks are closed today for Presidents Day.

(Answer below)
Each president’s head on Mount Rushmore signifies a milestone in the first 150 years of U.S. history. What are the four milestones?

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Friend's papers give insight into rise of the Clintons
Sources said Clinton had lots of ideas of who should sit on the high court– too many, in the eyes of many White House staffers. Names included New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and Education Secretary Richard Riley. All turned him down. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's name was quietly leaked, but Senate Republicans made clear he would face a rocky confirmation. Clinton even briefly considered naming his wife to the court– which he labeled an intriguing, "sexy" idea– but was quickly talked out of it, according to former top White House aide George Stephanopoulos, in his memoir. – Bill Mears

Leading Dallas Morning News Opinion: Editorial: We recommend John Cornyn in GOP primary for the U.S. Senate
Sen. John Cornyn is a principled lawmaker whose brand of Texas conservatism makes him the best choice in this eight-way GOP primary race for the Senate … Rep. Steve Stockman has run a clownish campaign with the baseless claim that Cornyn supports the Affordable Care Act. – Dallas Morning News Editorial Board

Leading Drudge: Venezuela on the Brink
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called supporters to take to the street tomorrow, hours after an opposition politician sought by police urged his allies to march with him on the same day. Leopoldo Lopez, the leader of opposition party Voluntad Popular who Maduro accuses of inciting violence, urged Venezuelans to dress in white and march with him on Tuesday, daring officials to enforce an arrest order issued against him. Maduro responded by summoning a demonstration of 30,000 to 40,000 oil workers. – Cronia Pons

Leading HuffPo: Obama: Uganda Anti-Gay Bill Would Mark Step Backward
President Barack Obama says pending steps by Uganda to further criminalize homosexuality will complicate what he is describing as America's valued relationship with the East African nation. – Darlene Superville

Leading Politico: Eric Cantor blasts ‘isolationist sentiment’
Make no mistake: Eric Cantor sides with the strong-on-defense wing of the GOP. In a Presidents Day speech prepared for delivery at the Virginia Military Institute, the House majority leader offers a full-throated rebuke of the “isolationist sentiment” he says caused the United States to hesitate to enter World War II and again threatens to unleash global horrors. The speech is aimed at President Barack Obama, accusing him of bungling just about every foreign policy challenge he’s faced as commander-in-chief, from Syria’s civil war to the attempt to reset relations with Russia.

Leading New York Times: On Health Act, Democrats Run in Fix-It Mode
Party leaders have urged Democratic candidates to talk openly about the health care law’s problems while also offering their own prescriptions to fix them. – Ashley Parker

The political bites of the day

- Romney: Bill Clinton not as relevant as Hillary -
FORMER MASS. GOVERNOR AND VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE MITT ROMNEY IN AN INTERVIEW WITH NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS” SUNDAY: "I don't think Bill Clinton is as relevant as Hillary Clinton if she decides to run for president … The times when (Bill) was president were by and large positive economic times for the country. On the other hand, he embarrassed the nation. He breached his responsibility, I think, as an adult and as a leader in his relationship. And I think that's very unfortunate, but I don't think that's Hillary Clinton's to explain. She has her own record, her own vision for where she would take the country.”

Gut Check Full Service: According to a new Siena College Research Institute survey, Hillary and Bill Clinton are ranked the 9th most powerful first couple in American history, behind the Obama’s, the Kennedy’s, the Washington’s and more. When it comes to the most powerful first ladies of all time, Hillary Clinton ranks 6th, falling behind Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, Jacqueline Kennedy, Dolley Madison and Michelle Obama.

- Mitch McConnell on allowing debt-ceiling vote: ‘I had to do what's best for the country’ -
SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN LOUISVILLE ON FRIDAY: "My job is to protect the country when I can and to step up and lead on those occasions when it's required. That's what I did … My first choice would be to pass a debt ceiling that had something related to doing something about the debt on it, but as you know, the House of Representatives couldn't pass anything else other than a clean debt ceiling … We were confronted with a clean debt ceiling in the Senate or default."

- McCain: Cruz had no plan when he shut down the government -
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZONA, TO CANDY CROWLEY ON CNN’S STATE OF THE UNION: “I understand where Sen. Cruz is coming from. We have a cordial relationship, and I respect his right to do – exercise his rights as the United States senator which he did last week, but I allege that there was no plan. There was no plan once we had taken the United States on the brink of this financial crisis that we were approaching.”

- Chelsea Clinton: Don’t mistake progress with success –
CHELSEA CLINTON IN A KEYNOTE SPEECH AT A HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN EVENT IN LAS VEGAS SUNDAY: “After all the incredible progress we saw in 2013, I think it’s sometimes easy to think that progress actually marks success and that our work can stop on the steps of the Supreme Court … We made tremendous progress on the legal, political and cultural fronts, but we should not mistake progress for success because we have a lot more work to do.”

- The President on healthcare being called Obamacare: “I like it” –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH NBA HALL OF FAMER CHARLES BARKLEY: “I like it … I don't mind. And I tell you, five years from now when everybody's saying, ‘Man, I’m sure glad we got health care,’ there are going to be a whole bunch of people that don't call it ObamaCare because they don't want me to get credit.”

- Obama: Lebron has potential but Jordan has my heart –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN AN INTERVIEW WITH NBA HALL OF FAMER CHARLES BARKLEY: “Now, I'm a Chicago guy, and Mike (Michael Jordan) will always be the guy for me, just because that was a magical moment for the city, and he was a champion, but Mike's now retired … LeBron, when you look at him, you might think he might be able to play at a high level for another seven, eight, 10 years. He's only 29 years old. In terms of every aspect of the game, LeBron has the chance to be as good as anybody."

What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec)
5 years ago today, President Obama took action to bring our economy back from the brink by signing the Recovery Act into law. #ActOnJobs

Senator Rubio Press (‏@SenRubioPress)
Senator @MarcoRubio: 5th Anniversary Of Failed #Stimulus Plan Is Proof Big Government Is Not The Answer. VIDEO:

Sen. McConnell Press (‏@McConnellPress)
McConnell: "@KYComer, @SenRandPaul & I share a vision of a prosperous eastern KY that helps lead the way for the Bluegrass State" #projectAP

Donna Brazile ‏(@donnabrazile)
Even during Obama’s first term, Mitch McConnell said that thwarting him was their biggest political priority. #PresidentsDay of action.

The Star-Ledger (@starledger)
Since texts tie @kevinjotoole to the #bridgegate coverup, he shouldn't be on the investigating panel: Editorial

Kevin Bohn (‏@KevinBohnCNN)
LBJ allies hope April civil rights summit will help public see other side of his presidency.

Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston)
Sunnylands golf course, where the President is playing today, has been host to many presidents: Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and H.W.

SA Stats ‏(@SAStats)
South Africa's press (42) is ranked as freer than that of the US (46), Italy (49) and Japan (59) in the World Press Freedom Index 2014 – RSF

Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel)
congratulations @jimmyfallon – I look forward to doing this side-by-side until our suits look funny and our hair turns white #FalPals

TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer

According to the National Park Service, Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor and visionary for Mount Rushmore, chose Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt to carve on the mountain, because they each represent one particular milestone in the first 150 years of American History.

George Washington, being the nation’s first president, represents the birth of our country. Thomas Jefferson, for being credited with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 symbolizes the expansion of the nation. Abraham Lincoln embodies the preservation of the nation due to his diligence in confronting the challenges of the Civil War. Theodore Roosevelt represents the development of the United States, for his promotion of the construction of the Panama Canal.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congrats to Matthew Gilbertson (@MattRGilbertson) for being the first to correctly answer today’s Gut Check Trivia question.

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soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Hope and Change is now Failure and Deceit

    Obama’s Approval Rating on Past President’s Days
    2014 … 42%
    2013 … 51%
    2012 … 45%
    2011 … 48%
    2010 … 49%
    2009 … 64%

    The more we see and hear of Obama, the worse Obama's numbers are. The country is finally waking up to the 8 year long disaster it brought upon itself. But don't blame yourselves America, as you were conned and lied to by Obama, the Democrat Party and the liberals and leftsts in this country. Please don't let it happen again in November.

    February 17, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Donna

    Leading New York Times: On Health Act, Democrats Run in Fix-It Mode
    Party leaders have urged Democratic candidates to talk openly about the health care law’s problems while also offering their own prescriptions to fix them. – Ashley Parker

    How does one "fix" a train wreck? You don't All of this nutty insane law is tied together in a web of lies and deceit. The Democrats have lied and deceived the American people about the true purpose of this law.

    Democrats claimed it was to help people who did not have healthcare yet it has adversely affected the 80-85% of the American people that had healthcare and were happy with it, and which we were promised we could keep, along with our doctor and hospital, PERIOD. Well, we all now know that was the biggest lie and fraud ever perpetrated on the American people. And now the Democrats want you to allow them another chance to screw you over.

    February 17, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    2012 … 45%
    45% in 2012 and he still beat the pants off of MIttens.
    Just goes to show polls don't mean jack.
    Just ask President Romney.
    Maybe we should move forward with that third term...

    February 17, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Failure and Deceit – do you think that the GOBaggers are dragging the entire favorability numbers of all government down the drain?

    February 17, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. Bill from GA

    Hope and Change is now Failure and Deceit – "...Please don't let it happen again in November."

    Maybe you should look at the numbers for republicans in Congress. Their numbers make Barry look like a Rock Star!

    Maybe the other 58% believe the lies from the right-wing-propaganda machine, rather than acknowledge the progress this country has seen since President Obama took office.

    Numbers that matter are job growth (MINUS 750,000 the month before Obama was inaugurated), the stock markets nearly doubling, GDP rising from MINUS 8%.

    You don't get those facts on the right-wing propaganda network, but you can look them up.

    February 17, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. don in albuquerque

    Hope and Change is now Failure and Deceit

    Wanna talk about eight year disasters? W finished with a 19% approval, his daddy, H, finished with a 29%. Two of the lowest in history. The beloved Ronnie garnered only 35%. Clinton finished higher then all three, and Obama is still way ahead of all four. The best in history? Kennedy with 56%, and Eisenhower with 48. Look at two of the lowest in history and I can just about guarantee we will not let this happen again. You are delusional.

    February 17, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |

    0bamas 'hope and change' ? Means HIGH C0ST F0R gas. food. healthcare. Troops..Mankind .Kids world. and America !

    February 17, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  8. Wes

    obama is a disaster.

    February 17, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. Name Uche Agonsi

    Two issues to talk here:.........
    McCain seems to think that Syria Rebels are fighting American war of independence. Thank God, is another confirmation Americans were 100% right choosing Obama as their POTUS,
    Secondly, its sympathetically funny watching these GOPers go crazy with criticisms of Obama Stimulus without talks on their recipe for the worst economic down turn in our life, which was caused by their rule and which the stimulus benefits favoured the greatly. The world is not enough for these Repubs.

    February 17, 2014 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  10. J.V.Hodgson

    We the American people and voters need to grow up a bit in the upcoming elections just as presidential elections as 2010 has proved they do matter and turning out is a patriotic duty... both sides. 38% is not a mandate.... its critique of a failing system the media likes to label as " GRIDLOCK"
    Whether that is Republicans invoking debt limit crises, using filibusters to ensure 60 votes are needed to proceed to legislative debate, or filling presidential judicial or other cabinet and secretarial functions or ambassadors. OR Democrats and the president now considering Executive privilege and seeking " DISCHARGE RESOLUTIONS" ( LAST USED ON GUN CONTROL REPEAL FORCED BY THE NRA) (( not politicians energy)
    What that points to is a system of checks an balances that much too far and is now broken. Why because even if The balance of power changes too much these failed checks and balances.
    Stop looking at gridlock start figuring out How to make it not so easy to have gridlock.

    February 18, 2014 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  11. J.V.Hodgson

    first line end mid term elections 2012, sorry.

    February 18, 2014 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  12. Lizzie

    Bill from GA, and you believe everything the democrats and liberals tell you over and over again. When they tell you to jump you ask how high.

    February 18, 2014 04:58 am at 4:58 am |
  13. salty dog

    So having to change health plans is more devastating than your kid having his legs blown off so Cheney can milk the government out of no bid billion dollar military contracts. You act like it didn't happen that way, but it did, whether you believe it or not doesn't change it. Your outrage has grown old, your cries for justice seen for what they are, a con job. Your party proves time and time again, they have no love of man, only money and power. The Bible gives me hope, the creators of inequities shall be gone.

    February 18, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |