By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
Republican leaders over the weekend previewed their arguments against the spending proposals President Obama plans to outline in his State of the Union address tomorrow, warning, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did, not to hide spending proposals under the guise of “investments”
“With all due respect to our Democratic friends, any time they want to spend, they call it investment, so I think you will hear the president talk about investing a lot Tuesday night,” McConnell, R-Ky., said on Fox News Sunday.
“We've got a huge spending problem here," he added. "We've had over $1 trillion annual deficit each of the last two years. … I mean, most of us think, and most American — of the American people think that we need to do something about this and start doing it now.
McConnell and his Republican colleagues were trying to get ahead of the president’s remarks tomorrow night in which he plans to say that the U.S. must “out-innovate,” “out-compete” and “out-educate” other countries.
"My principal focus, my number one focus, is going be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future,” Obama said in a video preview of his speech. http://abcn.ws/gzvYys
He also plans to make the case for the health care reform law as well as protecting education programs from the budget knife.
“We're also going to have to deal with our deficits and our debt in a responsible way,” Obama said in the preview.
But as House Republican Leader Eric Cantor cautioned in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “Republicans are not going to vote for this increase in the debt limit unless there are serious spending cuts and reforms.”
BOTTOM LINE: As ABC’s Rick Klein noted in his “Political Insights” segment: "Obama's efforts to expand ‘investments’ will come up against a wall of GOP opposition. Republican leaders have committed to moving in the opposite direction, and are just as comfortable making their case to the public as the president is making his. The president is hoping that his work with Republicans over the past weeks and months will give him additional credibility as he plans out the rest of his legislative agenda." http://abcn.ws/fc2MrE
EXCLUSIVE: ‘STATE OF THE UNBORN’. A day before President Obama will deliver his State of the Union speech, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee dedicated to electing pro-life women to Congress, is releasing her group’s first-annual “State of the Unborn” address. It coincides with the March for Life, marking the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
“It’s time for us to flex the muscle that we just flexed in this election, and do everything we can in this congress to protect those human lives. And, I’ll tell you, one thing that would be the most important thing you could do today, whether you’re at home or you’re marching wherever you are, is to contact your Member of Congress. Say ‘Please cosponsor and vote for the Chris Smith bill that would roll back all abortion funding throughout the entire federal government.’” Dannenfelser says in the address. “We’re not outlawing one abortion by insisting that we won’t be complicit in the death of even one child. This, of course, is the promise that this president made when we were moving into the health care debate. So, tomorrow night, when he gives his State of the Union message, it should certainly include how he has or has not lived up to that promise.” Watch the entire speech: http://bit.ly/dQPncy
NEW HAMPSHIRE HEARTS ROMNEY. In case you missed this weekend’s 2012 preview in New Hampshire, ABC News Political Director Amy Walter brings you the results of the first ever "straw poll" of New Hampshire Republican party committee members sponsored by ABC News and WMUR and sanctioned by the state Republican party: Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took 35 percent of the 276 valid ballots cast — just 3 percent more than Romney took in the 2008 GOP primary, when he finished in second place behind Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Coming in a distant second was Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, with 11 percent.
Rounding out the top five: Tim Pawlenty, 7.6 percent; Sarah Palin, 6.8 percent; and Michele Bachmann 5 percent. The take away, Walter writes: “Romney's still the solid frontrunner here, but there's plenty of room for another Republican to break through here. Pawlenty's showing was also impressive, given how new he is to the scene. He has, however, been working New Hampshire, as have his supporters.” More results from the N.H. straw poll: http://abcn.ws/e3m29E
TEA PARTY TAKING POWER. Remember when we all wondered what would happen to Tea Party when the election was over? Answer: they're moving from outside the tent to inside by taking over the reins of many state party organizations. This weekend, GOP party members picked Tea Party candidates to run their state party in Arizona, New Hampshire and Washington — in many cases bucking the candidate supported by key party figures in the state.
In New Hampshire, businessman Jack Kimball defeated the hand-picked candidate of outgoing Chairman John Sununu, Chesire County GOP chair Julia Bergeron. In his victory speech, Kimball proclaimed that "the press is trying to make this out to something it is not.” While party members we talked with on Saturday agreed that the party would remain united, there was some concern that Kimball will move the party too far right and spook independent voters. In an interview with the New Hampshire Journal earlier this month, Kimball said, “we must put forth a strong conservative presidential candidate…I won't tolerate our party deviating from its conservative platform.”
What does that mean for presidential hopefuls stumping in New Hampshire? In an interview with ABC News, Bergeron noted that she and Kimball "differ" on their approach to independent voters, who make up 35-40 percent of the primary electorate. “He came out and said he'd have a litmus test," she said.
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl interview Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., ranking member of the Budget Committee. Also on the program, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Both lawmakers will look ahead to tomorrow night’s State of the Union address and assess the chances for bipartisanship, not only in seating arrangements, but also on policy. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
SOTU COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY. “Just one day before President Obama’s State of the Union address, it’s still not clear whether Chief Justice John Roberts will attend or, like high court colleague Justice Samuel Alito, skip the event,” Fox News’ Lee Ross notes. “The recent uptick in collegiality from lawmakers on Capitol Hill in the run-up to Tuesday’s speech contrasts sharply with the lingering controversy from last year’s speech in which President Obama rebuked the justices over a campaign finance decision. If Roberts decides not to attend, it would be his first absence at a State the Union Speech since joining the court in 2005. … An official with the University of Hawaii Law School confirms to FOX News that Alito … will be with students in Honolulu all week and therefore will not attend Tuesday night’s speech.” http://fxn.ws/hWHSrs
SOTU FACT OF THE DAY: January 30, 1961: President John F. Kennedy delivered his first State of the Union Address before a Joint Session of Congress. The occasion marked only the second time a newly elected President chose to give such a speech — the first was Kennedy’s predecessor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. Kennedy delivered his nearly one-hour long address 10 days after his inauguration. (h/t ABC’s Eliza Larson and Office of the House Clerk).
TUCSON HERO AT SOTU. “Daniel Hernandez Jr., one of the heroes of the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., two weeks ago, tells ABC News that he will be sitting, along with his father, Daniel Hernandez Sr., with Michelle Obama at the State of the Union on Tuesday, which happens to be his 21st birthday,” ABC News’ Polson Kanneth reports. “‘I'm both honored and excited to have the opportunity to travel to our nation's Capitol for a once in a lifetime event. Also the chance to bring my father along for his first trip to Washington, D.C. The State of the Union is a pivotal moment because it is our opportunity to find where we are and where we will be going as a nation in this upcoming year,’ Hernandez said.” http://abcn.ws/ge4r78
GEORGE ALLEN RETURNS. “Former Sen. George Allen will end weeks of speculation and formally declare his candidacy for U.S. Senate in Virginia on Monday,” Politico’s David Catanese reports. “Allen, who has been making all the moves of a candidate in recent weeks, is expected to blast an e-mail to supporters with a video message before alerting the media. The announcement comes as no surprise. The former governor and senator has been touring the state to champion a repeal of the health care law, quietly reaching out to state lawmakers and seeking advice from those who guided his earliest campaigns.” http://politi.co/fygUS2
HEALTH CARE PUSH IN SENATE. "Senate Republicans want to box majority Democrats into allowing a health care repeal vote even if GOP lawmakers expect to be on the losing side,” the AP’s Douglass K. Daniel reports. “‘We need to have a vote on it because we promised the people we would," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday on ‘Face the Nation’ on CBS. ‘We have to have a vote on repeal so that everybody is on record whether they want to repeal.’ … While Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who controls the Senate agenda, has said such a bill won't come to a vote, Republican leader Mitch McConnell repeated his promise that a repeal vote will indeed take place.” http://yhoo.it/gEzSUG
OBAMA’S ODE TO REAGAN. “Ronald Wilson Reagan was a believer. As a husband, a father, an entertainer, a governor and a president, he recognized that each of us has the power — as individuals and as a nation — to shape our own destiny. He had faith in the American promise; in the importance of reaffirming values like hard work and personal responsibility; and in his own unique ability to inspire others to greatness,” President Obama writes in USA Today. “No matter what political disagreements you may have had with President Reagan — and I certainly had my share — there is no denying his leadership in the world, or his gift for communicating his vision for America.” More reflections on Reagan from House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and others: http://usat.ly/gsRUb8
NOTED: The Arizona Republican Party defeated a resolution that would have moved its presidential primary to February. The state GOP also elected “Tom Morrissey as the new party chair. … Morrissey topped the party establishment-backed candidate for the position, Ron Carmichael. U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, state House Speaker Kirk Adams and former U.S. Rep. John Shadegg all threw their weight behind Carmichael, but the association with some of those big names hurt him when the votes were counted.” http://bit.ly/i1IFLQ
@markknoller: Today at the WH: Pres & Mrs Obama & Dr Jill Biden host an 11am event to spotlight govt efforts to provide support to military families.
@michaelpfalcone: Happy (belated) Birthday to faithful Note reader @emilymelissa — who always reads to the bottom!
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