State of the Union Address

As Prepared for Delivery–

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend – Gabby Giffords.

It’s no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.

But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.

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Reid Defends Earmarks Before Obama’s Speech

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blasted the earmark ban expected to be proposed by President Obama in tonight’s State of the Union address, ABC Newsreports.

Said Reid: “I think this is an issue that any president would like to have, that takes power away from the legislative branch of government and I don’t think that’s helpful. I think it’s a lot of pretty talk and it’s only giving the president more power. He’s got enough power already.”

Christie Hosts Dinner for Romney

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) hosted a dinner for Mitt Romney last night which included some of Christie’s top political advisers and party leaders, the Newark Star Ledger reports.

Sources described the dinner “as an informal discussion without any specific talk of endorsements in New Jersey’s Republican presidential primary, which is still a year away. Romney has been laying the groundwork for a second presidential campaign, although he has not yet formally announced his candidacy.”

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Romney running even with Mike Huckabee in a New Jersey GOP primary.

Ailes Considered Show for Clinton

Roger Ailes tells Esquire he considered giving Bill Clinton a talk show on Fox News but didn’t think it would work.

Said Ailes: “Well, I talked to him. The problem with Bill is he won’t be as good on a talk show as you’d think. Because, first of all, he never shuts up. I mean he cannot hit time cues… The problem with him in a talk-show mode is not that he’s not charming, good, smart, and glib. He is. But he loves to talk about policy. He’s actually a policy wonk. So if you really want eighteen minutes on ethanol, he’ll give it to you. But it won’t get ratings.”

Talent Not Expected to Make Comeback Bid

Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO is expected to announce in the coming days that he won’t mount a comeback bid for U.S. Senate, Politico reports.

“Talent’s decision against a 2012 campaign was telegraphed in recent weeks with his lack of activity in the state an an overseas trip with almost-certain presidential candidate Mitt Romney.”

CNN Will Air Bachmann’s Response

Greg Sargent reports that CNN has called the Tea Party a “major force” in justifying the decision to air Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s (R-MN) non-GOP-sanctioned response to the State of the Union address.

Dave Weigel: “I’d just point out that the CNN has a longstanding romance with the Tea Party Express, the PAC that’s putting on the Bachmann speech. Later this year, the network and the PAC (and potentially other Tea Party groups) are co-sponsoring a presidential debate between Republican candidates. So, not shocking at all for the network to promote this and then claim a higher purpose.”

No other networks will air Bachmann’s response.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m all for the President changing his tune, but unless he has a time machine he can’t change his record.”

— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), in a statement on the Senate floor, dismissing President Obama’s recent move towards the political center.

Coleman Not Done Yet

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) told Newsmax that he’s not ruling out another run for elected office.

Said Coleman: “I love public service. I can’t tell you that I’ve run my last race. The public will decide that.”

Rahm Back on the Ballot

The Illinois Supreme Court has ordered the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners to put Rahm Emanuel’s name back on the mayoral ballot, theChicago Sun Times reports.

The Chicago Tribune notes the court will hear Emanuel’s appeal “on an expedited basis, using briefs the parties filed with the appellate court. There will be no additional briefs and no oral argument before the high court.”

Manchin Looks Strong

A new Public Policy Polling survey in West Virginia finds Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) leading a possible challenge from Shelley Moore Capito (R) by nine points, 50% to 41%.

“Against a couple other potential Republican opponents we tested — new Congressman David McKinley and his opponent from last year, Raese, Manchin leads by considerably more dominant margins. It’s 57-28 over McKinley who a majority of voters in the state still don’t have an opinion about yet. And it’s 60-31 over Raese, whose favorability rating with the state’s voters is now an awful 30/52 spread. That’s definitely not the direction Republicans want to go in again.”

Pendulum Swing

Out today: Pendulum Swing by Larry Sabato.

The Politics of Rahm’s Appeal

As Rahm Emanuel appeals to get back on the Chicago mayoral ballot, Lynn Sweetnotes politics doesn’t stop at the door to the state’s highest court.

“There are seven members of the Illinois Supreme Court and the one with the most political ties is Justice Anne Burke, married to Ald. Edward Burke (14th) the most powerful alderman in Chicago’s City Council — and one of the biggest backers of Gery Chico’s mayoral bid. She may want to argue that she is a judge in her own right, has her own career and what her husband does is his business. But if that were so, Burke would not be on the Supreme Court today.”

Heroes in the Balcony

“Since 1982, presidents have used 38 everyday Americans as human illustrations at State of the Union addresses and other big speeches before Congress,” theWashington Post reports.

“They have been chosen precisely because they are ordinary, a human representation of everything that is right and good about the country. But a presidential mention is, of course, extra-ordinary. It hasn’t always been easy for these select few to return to the lives that won them recognition.”

video montage looks at each of the “heroes in the balcony” since President Reagan first introduced the gimmick.

Foley Eyes Another Bid for Governor

Failed Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley (R) told the Connecticut Mirror he’s not interested in running for U.S. Senate in 2012 and would rather wait to run again for governor in 2014.

Said Foley: “I still think I’m best qualified and best able to help Connecticut in the governor’s office. So, I’ll be looking seriously at 2014. I hope to have an opportunity to run again.”

Meet the Aisle Hogs

Salon notes that every year there is a handful of congressmen and -women who always seem to end up perfectly positioned to cross paths with the president as he makes his way into the House chamber for the State of the Union address.

“This is no coincidence. Seating for the State of the Union is not assigned; senators and House members claim their spots on a first come, first served basis. So when you seen a member of Congress standing along the center aisle as the president enters, chances are good that he or she staked out his or her turf early — as in hours early. And when you see the same member of Congress standing on the aisle year after year, it’s pretty clear that being seen on television with or near the president — even if it’s for a split second — matters greatly to that member.”

Recall Vote in Omaha

Voters head to the polls today in Omaha to decide if Mayor Jim Suttle (D) should be recalled, the Omaha World Herald reports.

The recall effort cites “excessive taxes, broken promises and union deals that cost taxpayers millions and threaten Omaha’s economic future.”

First Read: “This Omaha recall isn’t scandal based; it’s simply a way to channel voter anger over budget issues in the city. It’s just the type of thing to could get politically contagious. A little reminder: In 2003, California voters recalled their governor, and the man who replaced ended up having lower poll numbers and a bigger budget deficit than the man he replaced.”

Browner Will Leave White House

White House energy adviser Carol M. Browner plans to leave the White House in coming weeks, USA Today reports.

Mike Allen has the backstory: “Browner recently found out that she won’t be getting either of the two deputy chief of staff positions that are opening with the departure of Jim Messina, who will head out in a few weeks to head the reelection campaign, and Mona Sutphen, who is leaving government.”

However, Browner told the Washington Post that there is “no back story — it was just time to go.”

Giuliani’s Mistake

In an interview with Piers Morgan, Rudy Giuliani looks back on his failed presidential bid in 2008.

Said Giuliani: “The basic mistake was — I made a lot of them, but I made one big one, which was I built a national campaign. When John McCain was ahead, we were kind of like trying to catch him. We caught him and we went ahead of him. So we were the front-runner for six months, five months, whatever. But I didn’t build a good enough campaign in any one state to win a primary. I had a great national campaign, a terrible primary campaign. And it should be reversed. You’ve got to win primaries in order to get nominated.”

“So if I did it again, or for anybody else who is running, I would concentrate on figuring out how do you win Iowa? How do you win New Hampshire? How do you win South Carolina? How do you win Florida? In that order, at least one or two of those.”

Brown Wants to Buy Books with Campaign Funds

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission asking for permission to use campaign funds to buy copies of his forthcoming book,Against All Odds.

Barbour Heads to South Carolina

Mississippi Gov Haley Barbour (R) will visit South Carolina this week to discuss a potential presidential run with local officials, Jonathan Martin reports.

“Barbour’s trip to the first-in-the-South Palmetto State illustrates his increasing seriousness about a presidential bid. His appearance in the two Upstate cities comes just a few weeks after he appeared in Columbia for the inauguration of Gov. Nikki Haley. The Mississippian hosted a reception for legislators at that time, but this foray marks one of the first times he’s meeting with local activists explicitly about a presidential bid.”

Obama Viewed Positively by Investors

A new Bloomberg poll of investors finds 53% now view President Obama favorably, up from 49% in November, reversing a yearlong deterioration in perceptions of the president,

Allen Attempts Historical Rarity

Former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) announced his attempted political comeback yesterday, declaring his candidacy for U.S. Senate in 2012.

Smart Politics study finds that only 11 Senators over the past century have been elected to a full term, left the U.S. Senate, and then returned to be elected to a full term once again. However, of these 11 Senators, only five stepped away from the Senate involuntarily — by losing their reelection bid.

Empty Seat for Giffords

“The Arizona delegation will sit together Tuesday night during President Obama’s State of the Union address, leaving one seat empty to honor Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ),” The Hill reports.

Surge of Optimism About Country

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds 43% of the public feel that things are going well in the country, up 14 points since December. The survey indicates that a majority of Americans continue to think that things are going badly in the country today, but that figure has dropped from 71% at the end of last year to 56% now.

Said pollster Keating Holland: “We haven’t seen numbers this good since April of 2007. One likely reason for the change is the public’s growing optimism about the economy.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics

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