Possible ’12 Opponents Romney, Palin Criticize Obama’s Speech, Presidency

BY David Chalian  January 27, 2011 at 8:05 AM EDT

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address.

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address. Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Most national polls show former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at or near the top of any potential Republican field in 2012, and Wednesday night he inched closer to announcing another run for president.

Romney told Fox News host Sean Hannity that “no decision” had been made yet, but added, “We’ll give that some thought, obviously, and we’re doing the things we need to do to keep in the public eye.”

Asked for his general impression of President Obama’s first two years in office, Romney didn’t pull any punches, saying, “Well, he is trying awfully hard. The problem is he just doesn’t know what to do.”

Romney also criticized the president’s handling of the economy. “He’s really put in place over the last two years about the most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs regimen that we’ve seen probably in the past couple decades,” Romney contended.

Romney, a former executive at investment firm Bain Capital, said he thought it was important for Republicans to consider nominating someone with a business background. “I do believe that it would be helpful if at least one of the people who’s running in the Republican field had extensive experience in the private sector — in small business, in big business, working with the economy,” Romney said.

On President Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment — the health care law enacted last year — Romney said it was “absolutely the wrong idea.” That could be a tough sell for Romney with Republican primary voters though, as the national plan bears a strong resemblance to the system Romney put in place in Massachusetts while governor.

Another potential contender for the 2012 GOP nomination, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News show Wednesday to level her own criticism of the president and his State of the Union address.

Citing the president’s theme of “winning the future,” Palin made a play on the letters “WTF,” the slang acronym for the three-word phrase containing a certain four-letter curse word:

“I thought, ‘OK, that acronym, spot on.’ There were a lot of ‘wtf’ moments throughout that speech, namely, when he made the statement, Greta, that he believed that we can’t allow ourselves to, I guess, eventually become buried under a mountain of debt. That right there tells you he is so disconnected from reality! The problem is, we are buried under a mountain of debt, and jobs cannot be created by the private sector. We cannot grow and thrive and prosper as a nation when we are buried under this $14 trillion debt.”

While the race for 2012 is only beginning to heat up, it seems the rhetoric, at least, is already there.

THUNE, TOO?

South Dakota Sen. John Thune also sounded Wednesday like he might make a run at the Republican nomination, telling ABC’s Jonathan Karl that he sees “a big opportunity on the national field.”

Sen. Thune said he didn’t have a specific timeline but indicated a final decision was not far off. “It won’t be long. We realize that if you’re going to do this, you have to get moving. The clock is ticking.”

His prospects received a shot in the arm Wednesday from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who called the South Dakotan a “sharp, capable individual.” Sen. McConnell, who spoke at the inaugural POLITICO Playbook breakfast, added, “I’m a big John Thune fan.”

GOP BRAND REHAB

It took the Republican Party five years, but it has returned to net positive territory, according to the Gallup organization’s latest survey of voters.

The poll finds 47 percent of voters have a favorable view of the GOP compared to 43 percent who hold an unfavorable view.

From Gallup:

“Americans’ opinions of the Republican Party have improved to the point where now more have a favorable than unfavorable opinion of the party. The last time more Americans viewed the GOP more positively than negatively was in 2005.

“For the early part of the 2000s, Americans had a net-positive image of the Republican Party. That changed in 2005, as Americans soured on the Bush administration over the ongoing Iraq war, the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and rising gas prices, among other issues. After the 2006 midterm elections, which saw Americans remove the Republicans as the majority party in Congress, the Republicans’ ratings were 35% favorable and 58% unfavorable.”

The Republicans found themselves in the unpopular wilderness for an additional four years.

The same poll shows Democrats have improved their standing, but still unfavorable opinions edge out favorable ones.

“Americans’ current 46% favorable and 47% unfavorable rating of the Democratic Party is among the worst for Democrats since 1992, but is an improvement from last year.”

A TREND TO WATCH

New York State voters overwhelmingly support same sex marriage, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. By a margin of 56 percent to 37 percent, New York voters gave gay marriage a thumbs up. This probably helps explain why statewide Democratic elected officials such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have all moved to a pro-same sex marriage stance in recent years.

These numbers are a complete flip from where New Yorkers stood on the issue just six years ago.

“New York State voter attitudes about gay marriage have shifted dramatically since April 15, 2004, when Quinnipiac University first asked about gay marriage and found voters opposed the measure 55-37 percent,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

In the aftermath of his success at ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, President Obama suggested he is thinking through his opposition to same sex marriage and appeared to leave the door open to taking a different position at some point in the future. If more purple/battleground states begin to follow New York’s trend on this issue, it might hasten the president’s evolution on the topic.

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