POLITICS -- January 24, 2011 at 7:59 AM ET
Drawing the Battle Lines on Spending
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor are readying the GOP's response to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., took to the Sunday morning airwaves to draw the anticipated budget battle lines in the upcoming dominant debate in Washington as they pre-sponded to President Obama's State of the Union address.
One talking point both Republican leaders presented: The GOP considers the word "investment" to mean "unaffordable government spending."
To help draw the contrast with the president on this front, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives plans to move forward Monday with a bill instructing House Budget Committee Chairman (and official SOTU responder) Paul Ryan to slash $100 billion in non-defense spending from the current budget, as Republicans promised they would do in their "Pledge to America."
In a SOTU-sneak peek video sent to his supporters on Saturday, President Obama made clear this is a fight he's willing to have. (Of course, in this era of civility and bipartisan seating arrangements, the president will call for both sides to have the disagreement without being disagreeable.)
"My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future," President Obama said in his video.
"The debate that will define this year and is likely to set the terms for the 2012 elections began in earnest over the weekend, with President Obama and Republican leaders presenting competing visions for reducing the deficit and expanding the economy."
"The appearances laid the groundwork for a fierce clash between the Republicans and Mr. Obama over spending, the size and scope of government and the federal deficit; that fight could have profound effects on the path the nation takes as it emerges from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It occurs against the backdrop of the early days of the 2012 presidential race, as Mr. Obama prepares for his re-election campaign and Republicans position themselves to pick a candidate to challenge him.
"Mr. Obama will use the State of the Union address to argue that government should be a tool for creating jobs and strengthening a fragile recovery through spending in areas like high-speed rail, scientific research, clean energy programs and college grants -- a message that appeals to Democratic voters. In effect, Mr. Obama is trying to wall off those areas from spending cuts and is daring Republicans to defy him."
For more clues on what President Obama might say in his State of the Union address, White House aides continue to point to his December 2010 speech in North Carolina. For those of you eager to prepare for Tuesday night, you can read that speech in its entirety here.
Republican George Allen plans to announce Monday that he will run for his old U.S. Senate seat in Virginia next year, setting up a potential rematch with Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, in what will almost certainly be one of the most closely watched races of the 2012 election cycle.
Webb defeated Allen in 2006 by about 9,000 votes out of more than 2.3 million cast. Allen's campaign faltered after a video of him calling a Webb campaign aide "macaca" appeared online, causing a media uproar. For Allen, who had also served a term as Virginia's governor, the gaffe derailed not just his Senate re-election, but a possible run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
The Washington Post's Anita Kumar reports: "The former Virginia governor will announce his candidacy to supporters through an email and online video before filing his candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission so he can begin raising money. But he will not launch his campaign publicly until later this year, probably Thomas Jefferson's birthday -- April 13 -- the formal start of his last two U.S. Senate races."
As of Monday morning, the homepage of Allen's Web site had only two words on it: STAY TUNED.
Before Allen can think about Webb, he'll need to win a Republican primary. Jamie Radtke, the chairwoman of the Federation of Virginia Tea Party Patriots, announced last month she would seek the GOP nomination. At least three others have also expressed an interest in running.
Even if Allen wins the nomination, he might not face Webb in the general election. "The current Democratic senator from Virginia has indicated to confidants that he is not certain he wants to run for re-election, and he has raised little money so far," reports The New York Times' Michael Shear.
GRANITE STATE STRAW POLL
New Hampshire Republicans gave their Massachusetts neighbor Mitt Romney a 2012 boost over the weekend, favoring the former Republican governor in a straw poll of state GOP committee members.
Romney took 35 percent of the 276 ballots cast, proving he remains the front-runner in the first-in-the-nation primary a little more than a year from the nominating contest.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in second with 11 percent, followed by former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty at 8 percent. Pawlenty will be spending the next two days in the Granite state, attending a Merrimack County Republican dinner Monday and speaking at a "Politics and Eggs" breakfast in Bedford on Tuesday.
Former vice presidential nominee and Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who has not visited the state since fall 2008, placed fourth with 7 percent of the vote.
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