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How confident are you in the state of the union?
FILE PHOTO: President Barack Obama is pictured delivering his 2011 State of the Union address.
January 23rd, 2012
03:35 PM ET

How confident are you in the state of the union?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It used to matter.

The president's State of the Union address used to be a sort of snapshot of where the country stood: How the economy was doing, what was working, and what wasn't.

Now it's just a political speech - a nicely bundled batch of b.s. designed to make the American people feel good about whichever party is peddling it.

And in an election year it will be even worse than usual.

Nevertheless it's an exercise the president has to go through once a year and tomorrow night is the night.

With a captive audience of a joint session of Congress and a national television audience of millions, President Obama will tell us all what a wonderful job he's doing and how great everything is in the country.

He probably won't mention that the country is broke.

He probably won't talk much about the long national nightmare that is the war in Afghanistan.

He's not likely to address the fact that gas prices have doubled since he took office.

He probably won't draw much attention to the fact that the housing crisis still isn't anywhere near being over.

He likely won't mention that the overall standard of living for Americans is in decline.

And I'll bet he won't dwell on the fact that millions and millions of Americans still can't find a job.

Instead he'll likely try to portray whatever problems he addresses as Congress' fault, while at the same time promising that he's going to do much better in the coming year.

The fact of the matter is the state of our union isn't very good.

Here’s my question to you: How confident are you in the state of the union?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Government • United States
Can President Obama win re-election without the support of independents?
January 19th, 2012
02:11 PM ET

Can President Obama win re-election without the support of independents?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has a serious problem with independents - and it just might cost him a second term.

A new CBS/New York Times poll shows only 31% of independents have a favorable opinion of Mr. Obama.

Compare that to 2008, when Mr. Obama defeated John McCain by winning 52% of the independent vote.

According to this poll:

2/3 of independents say the president has not made real progress in fixing the economy, the nation's top issue.

More than half say they don't have a clear idea of what Mr. Obama hopes to accomplish if he is re-elected.

6 in 10 independents say the president doesn't share their priorities for the country.

None of this is good news for the president. It's no coincidence Mr. Obama is out with his first major TV advertising campaign today in several battleground states. One of the targets of this campaign: the crucial swing voters.

The news is not all bad here for Mr. Obama, though. There could be an opening for the president to win back some of these independents.

Although Republicans think Mitt Romney has the best chance of beating Mr. Obama - and it's looking more and more like Romney will be the nominee - almost half of independents say they haven't formed an opinion of him yet.

Nevertheless, for the time being, many independents are disappointed and disillusioned with President Obama and the state of the country. They think the president has failed to deliver on many of his promises of four years ago; and if the election were held today, a lot of them wouldn't vote for him.

Here’s my question to you: Can President Obama win re-election without the support of independents?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

When is the proper time to release a potentially damaging interview with one of Newt Gingrich's ex-wives?
FILE PHOTO: Newt Gingrich sits next to his now ex-wife, Marianne, in a 1995 photo.
January 19th, 2012
12:40 PM ET

When is the proper time to release a potentially damaging interview with one of Newt Gingrich's ex-wives?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

What's that phrase of which Republicans are so fond? "Family values"?

Just two days before the South Carolina primary, Newt Gingrich's second ex-wife is out with some tawdry details about him that suggest he has the morals of an alley cat.

In fact, Marianne Gingrich tells ABC News that Newt lacks the moral character to be president. Married to Gingrich for 18 years, says she's coming forward now so voters can know what she knows about him.

And here's what she knows:

She says Newt asked for an "open marriage" so he could have a wife and a mistress. That mistress has since become his third and current wife, Callista.

Gingrich reportedly asked Marianne if she would "share him" when he admitted to a six-year affair with Callista, who is a former congressional aide.

Keep in mind this was around the same time that Gingrich was going after President Bill Clinton for his lack of moral leadership during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Marianne says Newt asked for a divorce just months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Gingrich divorced his first wife while she was being treated for cancer. Family values.

Meanwhile, ABC News will air the full interview tonight on "Nightline." Apparently there was disagreement at the network over the timing of the interview, given its potential effect on Saturday's primary in South Carolina.

The Drudge Report first leaked word of the interview last night –14 years and a day after Matt Drudge broke the Monica Lewinsky story.

As for Gingrich, so far his response to all this seems to be referring the press to ask his daughters about it. It's part of that whole family values thingy.

Here’s my question to you: When is the proper time to release a potentially damaging interview with one of Newt Gingrich's ex-wives?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • Newt Gingrich • Republican Party • Republicans
Should the U.S. government censor the Internet?
January 18th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Should the U.S. government censor the Internet?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It’s been a Wednesday without Wikipedia and other major websites. As they go dark to protest two anti-piracy bills in Congress, critics say these bills amount to censorship of the Internet.

While Google hasn't shut down, a black rectangle covers its famous logo urging people to "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!"

The web-wide protest is in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in the U.S. House and the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, now pending before the full Senate.

The battle lines are drawn with Hollywood and major media companies, including CNN's parent company, Time Warner, on one side and Silicon Valley on the other.

If the bill passes, copyright holders could seek a court order to force search engines such as Google to remove links to sites that are offering illegal movies, TV shows, songs, etc. The main targets are foreign websites.

But Internet companies worry they could be punished for users' actions. Google says YouTube would have to go dark immediately if the bill passes, saying "it couldn't function."

On the other side, supporters say that online piracy leads to job losses in the U.S. since content creators lose income. They dismiss accusations of censorship, saying that the bills are meant to fix a broken system that doesn't prevent piracy.

Supporters say this bill won't hurt the average Internet user.

Many in the tech world agree that piracy is a real problem, but they worry about the implications of this legislation, fearing that it's a foot in the door that could lead to further government controls.

Meanwhile the bills that were once expected to sail through Congress have hit rough waters. One Senate aide tells CNN that because of the growing protests, the bill might not even make it to a vote.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. government censor the internet?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Congress • Government • Internet • Senate • Senate and Congress
Why can't the U.S. make any progress in the fight against obesity?
January 18th, 2012
03:22 PM ET

Why can't the U.S. make any progress in the fight against obesity?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans aren't getting any fatter, but they're not getting any thinner either.

New government reports show that nearly 36% of U.S adults and 17% of children and teens are obese.

When you add in overweight Americans, more than 2/3 of adults and about 1/3 of children are either overweight or obese.

Although these rates are up dramatically from a decade ago, they have leveled off in the past few years.

However certain racial and ethnic groups are still seeing increases in obesity rates.

For example, 59% of black women and 45% of Mexican-American women are obese. Also - for children and teens - obesity rates are higher among Hispanics and blacks.

Health experts say that while overall obesity rates have stopped climbing, the best way to lower rates is to stop people from getting fat in the first place.

Obesity is a national epidemic contributing to a range of illnesses from joint damage to certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

Speaking of diabetes, we learned this week that cooking icon Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes.

Deen is a well-known TV personality who is overweight herself and whose Southern recipes are full of fatty ingredients.

And isn't it interesting that after being diagnosed with the diabetes three years ago, Deen chose to tell the public about it only after making a deal with a Danish pharmaceutical company that makes an injectable diabetes medication?

Here’s my question to you: Why can't the U.S. make any progress in the fight against obesity?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Obesity
Does Newt Gingrich not have a clue when it comes to African Americans?
January 17th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Does Newt Gingrich not have a clue when it comes to African Americans?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Newt Gingrich is clueless when in comes to African-Americans. So writes Peter Beinart in a pretty tough Daily Beast column using Gingrich's own words from last night's Republican debate as proof.

Before we start here, keep in mind this debate was held in South Carolina on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Juan Williams, who was one of the moderators and is black, asked Gingrich whether some poor and minority voters might be insulted by his comments, as when Gingrich said poor kids lack a work ethic and black people should be instructed to demand jobs, not food stamps.

Gingrich, a native Georgian, pretty much dismissed the question as the crowd applauded. So Williams tried again, asking if Gingrich's words aren't belittling to the poor and blacks.

Williams: You saw some of this reaction during your visit to a black church in South Carolina, where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as "the food stamp president." It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people.

[BOOING]

Gingrich: Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.

[APPLAUSE]

Now, I know among the politically correct, you're not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.

[LAUGHTER]

[APPLAUSE]

Gingrich finished this exchange with a standing ovation from the mostly white crowd.

Beinart writes what is fascinating here is that Gingrich is not a racist and he believes the former house speaker genuinely cares about black poor people. Beinart suggests Gingrich's problem is ignorance. Suggesting blacks and their leaders don't consider jobs important shows how out of touch Gingrich is with African-American politics and the priority black leaders have put on jobs.

What's more - and this is probably the worst part - Gingrich doesn't get why calling Obama the "food stamp" president is highly offensive to blacks, given the history of blacks in this country.

Beinart writes: "The most plausible explanation is that Gingrich inhabits a cultural and intellectual bubble. A bubble called the Republican Party."

That’s tough stuff - and not so encouraging for the Republican Party when it comes to getting black voters.


Here’s my question to you:
Does Newt Gingrich not have a clue when it comes to African Americans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Newt Gingrich • Race • Race Relations
If Mitt Romney wins South Carolina, should the other Republican candidates drop out and support him?
January 17th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

If Mitt Romney wins South Carolina, should the other Republican candidates drop out and support him?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's a saying in politics that goes "Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line."

And it looks like it's about time for the remaining Republican candidates to fall in line behind the dominant front-runner, Mitt Romney.

If Romney wins South Carolina's primary on Saturday - where he's ahead in the polls, he will have pulled off a trifecta - winning the first three nominating contests in a row.

At that point, the other candidates - Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Rick Perry - ought to think about packing their bags and heading home.

It would be a fine time for them to go the way of Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman before them.

In case they haven't noticed, Republican voters for the most part are backing Romney, as he's opened up a commanding 23 point lead in one national poll.

The new Gallup poll shows Romney with 37% support from Republicans - that's a 13 point jump in this poll since just before the Iowa caucuses.

Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are at 14%, Ron Paul is at 12%, Rick Perry is at a measly 5%.

Pollsters suggest that historically, the post-New Hampshire leader in national polls has gone on to win the Republican nomination. Romney is not only leading by more than 20 points, but his margin is growing.

If the other Republicans choose to stay in the race and keep beating up on Romney, they're only giving the Democrats and President Obama more material to use against Romney in the general election.

Here’s my question to you: If Mitt Romney wins South Carolina, should the other Republican candidates drop out and support him?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Posted by
Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • Mitt Romney • Republican Party • Republicans
Is the Republican race over?
January 11th, 2012
04:49 PM ET

Is the Republican race over?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If the Republican primary race was a movie, the director might be ready to yell "Cut, print. That's a wrap!"

Mitt Romney is plowing ahead into South Carolina with the wind at his back after becoming first non-incumbent Republican in modern history to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. He may now be all but unstoppable.

Not too bad considering the Republicans have spent the past year trying out a whole roster of other candidates as the anti-Romney.

They've kicked the tires of everyone from Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich and, most recently, Rick Santorum. And despite brief spikes in the polls, none of these candidates has been able to present a serious challenge to Romney. And if they're going to, they better start. Time is running short.

John Avlon writes for The Daily Beast that Romney is "ready for prime time" after his double-digit New Hampshire victory.

Consider this: Romney won almost every major demographic in New Hampshire. He won Catholic voters - even though he is a Mormon and ran against two Catholics. He also won evangelical voters and tea party supporters - despite all the talk that he wasn't conservative enough for the right wing of the party.

And the rest of the crowd doesn't seem to get it. Despite weak performances in New Hampshire - especially by Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry - the whole group will stumble on into South Carolina.

There's an old expression that goes, "When it's over, it's over."

Here’s my question to you: Is the Republican race over?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Gov. Rick Perry • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Republican Party • Republicans • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul
If Romney wins the nomination, who should be his VP?
January 11th, 2012
03:48 PM ET

If Romney wins the nomination, who should be his VP?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Iowa and New Hampshire in his rear view mirror and South Carolina and Florida looking like two more potential victories, Mitt Romney is looking like he's going to be tough to beat.

If Romney goes on to win the Republican nomination, the next question becomes: Who is the best pick for vice president to round out the ticket?

For starters, nominees usually take a look at their former competitors, although it's hard to imagine Romney picking Newt Gingrich to be his No. 2.

A recent column on TheStreet.com suggests the Republican winner should look for a VP with a strong business background, experience, and someone who can avoid the so-called Palin syndrome. Translation: They should be able to name some newspapers they read and a couple of Supreme Court cases.

This could include politicians like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie has been campaigning for Romney to sell-out crowds in New Hampshire. Sort of a political odd couple.

Christie brings healthy doses of his signature straight talk. When protesters at a New Hampshire rally recently yelled: "Mitt kills jobs. Christie kills jobs," Christie shot back with this:

"Really? You know something may go down tonight, but it ain't gonna be jobs sweetheart."

Christie would certainly spice up the ticket and might be more willing to go on the attack so Romney wouldn't have to.

As a side note, here is my political fantasy: President Obama convinces Hillary Clinton to replace Joe Biden on the Democratic side.

Then a series of debates is scheduled between Clinton and Christie: It would be much more entertaining than debates between Romney and Obama. It would be huge. Hey, we can dream, right?

Here’s my question to you: If Mitt Romney goes on to win the nomination, who should be his VP?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Posted by
Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney
What happened to Newt Gingrich's promise to take the high road?
January 10th, 2012
03:49 PM ET

What happened to Newt Gingrich's promise to take the high road?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican."

That was President Reagan's 11th commandment and a mantra for the Republican Party. These days, not so much.

For a while there, Newt Gingrich was all about running a positive campaign. Back in Iowa, he called on his supporters to stay positive and avoid attacking fellow Republican candidates.

The former House speaker said he would refrain from such attacks so the eventual nominee could emerge from the primary to face President Obama "unbloodied." The plan was to devote his energies to "real issues," like the economy and unemployment.

That lofty rhetoric matched his onetime lofty standings in the polls. When his numbers started to drop, so did his civility. Eventually, Gingrich imploded in Iowa and finished a distant fourth in the caucuses.

Flash ahead to New Hampshire, and guess what? The old Newt is back, snarky and snarly as ever, spewing personal attacks on a near-daily basis.

Gingrich has called Romney a "liar" and full of "pious baloney."

He's also described Romney as unconservative and "a relatively timid Massachusetts moderate."

It's the same old story with these guys. They all say going negative is not their "first preference." Newt says he needs to defend himself.

But at what cost to the party? Pat Buchanan writes that the "bad blood" between several of the Republican candidates could wind up damaging the eventual nominee. He likens the Republican primary process to a circular firing squad.

Buchanan suggests that the candidates' attacking each others' character could play right into the Democrats' hands, saying, "such wounds take time to heal. Some never do, and some will not be closed before the Republican convention."

Here’s my question to you: What happened to Newt Gingrich’s promise to take the high road?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Newt Gingrich
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