President Obama heads to the East Room of the White House for his first formal, solo news conference since March and former vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan provided some fodder for what could be one of the opening questions: Did voters give the president a mandate for his second term last Tuesday?
In an interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl yesterday - his fist national televised sit-down since the Romney-Ryan ticket's loss on Nov. 6 - the Wisconsin congressman said that Obama's sweeping electoral victory did not a mandate make.
"I don't think so, because they also reelected the House Republicans. So whether people intended or not, we've got divided government," Ryan, the chairman of the House budget committee, told Karl. "This is a very close election, and unfortunately divided government didn't work very well the last two years. We're going to have to make sure it works in the next two years." http://abcn.ws/X570gq
With the fiscal cliff looming, Ryan also noted his opposition to raising any tax rates - another topic that is likely to be a centerpiece of today's news conference at the White House.
"Raising tax rates hurts economic growth and of all things we need right now, to prevent a fiscal cliff, prevent a recession, prevent a debt crisis, is we need people to go back to work," Ryan said.
But fiscal questions won't be the only ones on the agenda. The president will have a full plate at his White House grilling today with the scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus, and now the U.S.'s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, dominating the airwaves, many unanswered questions about the Obama administration's handling of the violence in Benghazi, as well as the ongoing response to the areas of the East Coast affected by Hurricane Sandy - to name just a few.
And as ABC's Mary Bruce notes, before the president takes any questions, he is expected to tackle the fiscal cliff in a brief opening statement detailing his efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit and prevent the spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect on Jan. 1 if nothing is done. http://abcn.ws/T1db0p
The Note's virtual political roundtable.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Call it the revenge of the wonk. Rep. Paul Ryan's rejection of the concept of a "mandate" for President Obama leaves him primed to be the central Republican figure in the House, with all respect to House Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenants. Boehner will cut any deal with the president - and a deal actually is looking possible, if not quite likely, as the fiscal cliff does its job of scaring Washington to act. But Ryan will make it soar, or crash. It's impossible to conceive of Boehner scaring up 90 or 100 of his colleagues for anything that involves more revenues without Ryan's blessing. That's the power of a national campaign, and Ryan's return to the House Budget Committee leaves him with more of a following, outside and inside the Capitol, than ever.
ABC's AMY WALTER: Meanwhile, if body language could talk, Paul Ryan's said he was not at all happy with the way the Romney campaign was run. When asked by Jon Karl if this was the campaign he would have run, Ryan's eyes darted, he took a long breath and stuttered an "Oh gosh" before dropping back into his practiced talking points.
TOP LINE: WHY A STATUS QUO ELECTION WILL BRING CHANGE. In the latest episode of ABC and Yahoo!'s Power Player series "Top Line" ABC's Amy Walter and Rick Klein share their optimism for the possibility of change in the next four years. The 2012 election came and went, leaving Washington virtually unchanged. Nearly all the same leadership, the same personalities, and the same old issues that lead to such awful gridlock the last two years will be returning to the Capitol. But there are real signs that things are changing around here. The "fiscal cliff" is actually doing its job, which is to create a moment so terrible that both sides have to come together and do something to avoid it. For more on the overlap between the two parties this year, and why the Republicans will be more conciliatory than they have in the past, check out the episode: http://yhoo.it/W4YrAH
THE WAR ON DRUGS - WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? First Colorado and Washington State vote to legalize marijuana - what's next? That's the topic of Intelligence Squared's debate tonight in New York, moderated by ABC'S JOHN DONVAN. It was 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared a "war on drugs." $2.5 trillion dollars later, drug use is half of what it was 30 years ago, and thousands of offenders are successfully diverted to treatment instead of jail. And yet, 22 million Americans - 9 percent of the population - still use illegal drugs, and with the highest incarceration rate in the world, we continue to fill our prisons with drug offenders. Decimated families and communities are left in the wake. Is it time to legalize drugs or is this a war that we're winning? Find out more and watch livestream, starting at 6:45 pm ET http://bit.ly/PtlGOg and learn about Intelligence Squared http://intelligencesquaredus.org/
MORE OF ABC'S INTERVIEW WITH PAUL RYAN: WE FELT 'GOOD ABOUT THE RACE WE RAN' While some conservatives have openly blamed Romney for failing to deliver a victory last week, Paul Ryan told ABC's Jon Karl that he and Mitt Romney "felt very good about the race we ran." "We wanted to offer specific ideas and solutions rooted in our country's principles, on how to get people back to work and how to fix the debt crisis, strength in our military, and get people going, you know, back to work. And we offered those ideas," he said. "We ran the kind of campaign we wanted to run. I'm very proud of the campaign we ran, and it was an absolute honor to be on the ticket with Mitt Romney." http://abcn.ws/X570gq
ON OBAMA: "The president deserves kudos for having a fantastic ground game, and the point I'm simply making is he won," Ryan told ABC News. "He won fair and square. He got more votes, and that's the way our system works, and so he ought to be congratulated for that." Ryan also said that the Romney campaign was "exactly the kind of campaign that I would've run had I been on the top of the ticket." "We thought we had a very good chance of winning. You know, the polling and the data and all the people who are the smart people who watch this stuff- they had a pretty optimistic view on the night," Ryan said. "Going into Boston that day, we felt like we had a pretty darn good chance of winning. So as you can imagine, it was a bit of a shock when we didn't win, but that's just the way these things go." http://abcn.ws/X570gq
with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
CAPITOL HILL DIVIDED OVER PETRAEUS SCANDAL. The strange scandal that led to the resignation of David Petraeus and put a hold on the Senate confirmation of a top U.S. general has raised questions about the separation of powers, and has caused some lawmakers to bristle that they were not told of the FBI's investigation sooner reports ABC's Sarah Parnass. The sex scandal has also robbed intelligence committees of Petraeus' testimony about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. That attack claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. Petraeus had personally flown to Libya on a fact-finding mission in late October. Top voices on the Hill are divided over what Gen. David Petraeus' next steps should be. http://abcn.ws/TEfaEf
OBAMA BACKS GEN. JOHN ALLEN IN PROBE. ABC's Martha Raddatz, Luis Martinez and Anthony Castellano report, President Obama is backing Gen. John Allen, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan and the second top military official whose behavior with a woman has come under investigation in recent weeks. While Obama accepted Petraeus' resignation last week, the president continues to have "faith" in Allen, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday. "I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of General Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan," Carney said of the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. http://abcn.ws/Qc4ku
WHITE HOUSE TO REVIEW ONLINE SECESSION PETITIONS. The White House says it will review online petitions from states that say they want to secede from the United States reports ABC's Chris Good. In the days since President Obama was re-elected, visitors to the WhiteHouse.gov site We the People have submitted a wave of petitions calling on Obama to allow 36 states to peacefully secede from the United States. As a practice, the White House says it will review and respond to petitions that obtain more than 25,000 signatures. http://abcn.ws/ZEZAOs
OBAMA SETS STEEP TAX TARGET. The Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook and Carol Lee report: "President Barack Obama will begin budget negotiations with congressional leaders Friday by calling for $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenue over the next decade, far more than Republicans are likely to accept and double the $800 billion discussed in talks with GOP leaders during the summer of 2011. Mr. Obama, in a meeting Tuesday with union leaders and other liberal activists, also pledged to hang tough in seeking tax increases on wealthy Americans. In one sign of conciliation, he made no specific commitment to leave unscathed domestic programs such as Medicare, leaving the door open to spending cuts many fellow Democrats oppose." http://on.wsj.com/RS1kSv
MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SKEPTICAL A DEAL WILL BE REACHED ON 'FISCAL CLIFF,' POLL FINDS. Americans don't trust Republicans and Democrats to get along, it seems. ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield notes, a new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that 51 percent of Americans don't believe a deal will reached between President Obama and Republicans in Congress regarding the do-called "fiscal cliff," the tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect if there is no bargain. The poll found that 38 percent believe a deal will be reached, while 11 percent responded that they don't know. http://abcn.ws/XCH62p
SUPPORT, SURPRISE GREETS REPORT ON JOHN KERRY. The Boston Globe's Bryan Bender reports: "By traditional measures, John F. Kerry, decorated veteran and a senator well regarded on the international stage, is more than qualified to be secretary of defense. Yet news reports that President Obama is considering Massachusetts' senior senator to oversee the armed forces sparked a range of reactions Tuesday, from full-throated support to bewilderment. Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has been instead considered a leading candidate to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton." http://b.globe.com/T0Irg3
OBAMA AIDES LOBBIED EXECUTIVES ON DEBT DEAL BEFORE VOTE. Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman reports: "White House officials have quietly lobbied Wall Street and the business community over the last several months to support President Barack Obama's plan to impose higher taxes on the wealthy to cut the deficit and avert going over the fiscal cliff. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Jeff Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, as well as Chief of Staff Jack Lew and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, were key administration officials dispatched before the election to meet with top business and finance leaders, according to people familiar with the meetings." http://bloom.bg/PQKnrL
INCOMING INDEPENDENT SENATOR ANGUS KING EXPECTED TO PICK A PARTY CAUCUS THIS WEEK. Maine's new Independent Senator-elect, Angus King, says he expects to make a decision as soon as Wednesday on which party caucus he will join after taking the oath of office next year, although he promised to work with both parties as a senator reports ABC's Sunlen Miller. "My intention is to make that decision probably this week and to announce it," King said in the hallways of the U.S. Senate while visiting for new member orientation today, "But the important thing is, whichever decision I make, I don't consider that building a wall between myself and the other party." During the campaign King demurred, but it is widely expected that he will caucus with the Democrats. If so, the Democrats would hold 55 seats in the Senate, compared to 45 held by Republicans. http://abcn.ws/STtbzn
NOTED: King's office sent out a media advisory late Tuesday night announcing a press conference at 9:15am on Wednesday morning in the Ohio Clock Corridor of the Capitol Building.
@amyewalter: McCaskill: "If I have any message, we can't get so focused on one issue that we can't lose sight of main issue for women- economic security"
@matthewjdowd: Good morning! hope it is full of wonder. and remember even if no one else believes in you, the most important person does, you. you matter