Obama goes on offense post-State of the Union

US President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One  on March 28, 2014. Image by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Today in the Morning Line:


  • Obama hitting the road
  • Today, he’s in Kansas (before talking to YouTube stars)
  • House abortion bill falls apart
  • Boehner invites Netanyahu; doesn’t tell White House
  • Just one senator (and it’s not the one you might think) doesn’t believe climate change is real


President Obama’s travel tells us something: For three weeks, President Obama has been on tour, first previewing his State of the Union speech and now amplifying it. Take a look at the itinerary:


  • Jan. 7 – Wayne, Mich., to talk jobs.




  • Jan. 8 – Phoenix, Ariz., for a speech about housing.




  • Jan. 9 – Knoxville, Tenn., to discuss higher education.




  • Jan. 12 and 13 – two speeches in the Washington, D.C. area to talk cybersecurity.
  • Jan. 14 – Cedar Falls, Iowa, to focus on the internet and net neutrality.
  • Jan. 15 – Baltimore, Md., where the president highlighted sick leave at a roundtable with women.
  • Wednesday – Boise, Idaho, for a speech on the middle class and tour of a tech facility.
  • Thursday – University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan.


Now look at the political map: You might see the general trend already. Morning Line pinned down the politics of each of these places and the result – a map that started in deep blue territory (Wayne, Mich. voted 73 percent for Obama in 2012) but then quickly jumped to red spots and then the bluest spots in red territory. Here’s a look at Air Force One’s path in terms of past votes for Obama.


  • Wayne County, Mich. – 2012: 73 percent Obama.
  • Maricopa County, Ariz. – Arizona voted 53 percent for both McCain and Romney. Obama also lost Maricopa County (Phoenix) both times, but it was one of the closest large counties he lost.
  • Knox County, Tenn. – Another bright red state and a particularly bright red spot. Knox County voted just 37 percent for Obama in 2008 and 34 percent in 2012.
  • Black Hawk County, Iowa – Now we get to a bright blue spot in a purple state. Iowa vote for Obama by slim margins in both 2008 and 2012. But Black Hawk County (home of University of Northern Iowa and Cedar Falls) was one of his top counties in both years, with over 60 percent for Obama in 2008 and nearly 59 percent in 2008.
  • Ada County, Idaho – Similar to what you see in Arizona, by visiting Boise and Ada County, Obama flew to a blue spot in a red state. The president lost Idaho by wide margins but won the area around Boise State University with 57 percent of the vote.
  • Douglas County, Kan. – In deep red Kansas in 2008, only three counties voted for Barack Obama. One was Douglas County, home to the University of Kansas and Lawrence. Obama lost narrowly to Romney there in 2012.


What this tells us: With one nod to his base (Wayne, Indiana), the president is jumping deep into generally Republican territory and into states that notably do not have particularly large numbers of electoral votes. But these are places where Democrats have some small potential footholds, particularly university towns, where the president seems to be sending a message to Republicans and perhaps to his own party as well. That message: I’m going on offense.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1973, former President Lyndon Johnson died. Where did Johnson die and where was he born? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to seansmorris (@seansmorris) for guessing Wednesday’s trivia: Which presidents have been accused of dodging the draft? The answer: Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.


  • Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are expected to meet in Utah, at the request of Bush. The meeting was reportedly planned before Romney announced two weeks ago he was weighing another bid.
  • Hillary Clinton leads Bush, Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Chris Christie by double digits in hypothetical matchups in the latest Washington Post/ABC News Poll.
  • Rick Santorum held a strategy meeting in Virginia Wednesday to discuss mistakes from 2012 and how to avoid them.
  • Former New York Gov. George Pataki is announcing Thursday that he’ll chair a new super PAC called “We the People, Not Washington.” It’s meant to give him a platform (and a bank account) to explore a presidential bid.
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s supporters are launching a Super PAC called “Believe Again”.
  • While some conservatives are calling for a non-Washington option in 2016, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is trying to make the case against having a governor as the nominee.



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