By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ABC's JONATHAN KARL: Hail To The New Chief Of Staff
Deputy National Security advisor Denis McDonough is the likely choice to be President Obama's next chief of staff, replacing Jack Lew, who has been nominated to be Treasury Secretary. White House officials say the president has not made a final decision, but informed sources say they expect McDonough will be chosen. As we reported last week, the other candidate under consideration has been Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Biden. McDonough has been a top Obama foreign policy advisor since the early days of his 2008 presidential campaign. He is one of those seen in the White House photo watching the Bin Laden raid unfold from the situation room with the President and his senior national security advisors. For those counting, McDonough would be the president's fifth chief of staff following in the footsteps of Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daly, Pete Rouse (interim) and Jack Lew.
ABC's ELIZABETH HARTFIELD: Diversity Criticisms May Persist
With the news that President Obama plans to announce Denis McDonough as his next chief of staff, Obama is not just adding another white male to a high profile role, he's adding another Washington insider. The president is choosing the individuals who he believes are best suited for their respective jobs in his new cabinet, but the lack of diversity in race, gender and resume also raises the stakes for what looks to be an ambitious second term agenda. Observers expect that this is the team equipped to accomplish an increasingly full slate of policy goals. If they don't, however, it seems likely that these criticisms will be even louder down the road.
ABC'S Z. BYRON WOLF: When Will A Woman Enter The Mix?
President Obama said people should give him time and wait to see his second term cabinet before they criticize its diversity. But as the White House apparently moves closer to naming Denis McDonough - a man - as Chief of Staff, it could provide another opportunity for critics to wonder when a cabinet-level woman will enter the mix. That said, the oddity of asking the first non-white American president about diversity remains… odd.
ABC'S RICK KLEIN: The Public Holds The Power On Gun Control
The coming clash over guns has the potential to be the biggest national political battle this side of Obamacare - and may even eclipse that before it's through. Actually, that may be the only way President Obama's sweeping package advances, with public pressure absolutely essential to any realistic political calculus. The public is out-of-step with the Congress in terms of reforms, according to a raft of recent polls. But the divides are regional and cultural more than they are ideological, and it's not the kind of debate where either side is likely to be persuaded with just words from a presidential podium. Robert Gibbs, the former White House press secretary, warned yesterday that if NRA is proud of its membership rolls, they've got nothing on the Obama campaign's army. "This will not happen unless the American people demand it," the president said yesterday. He is correct.
ABC'S SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: What About The Weapons Already On The Street?
Earlier this week when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the toughest gun control law in the nation he answered questions about whether he rushed the legislation through - it passed on only the second day of the 2013 legislative session - by saying it sent a "message of necessity." Why? Because he was concerned "as soon as people found out that I was proposing a specific law that was going to ban the sale of assault weapons, we were afraid that would actually cause a rush on the market of people who wanted to buy assault weapons." He said that what would have been "the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve" and it calls into question the reality of the situation on the federal level. Yesterday, the president called on Congress to reinstate the lapsed assault weapons ban, but with these weapons flying off the shelves what will be done with those already on the street and the many others sold in the time Congress deals with this proposal?
ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ: The Value Of Biden's Political Capital
In an interview with The New York Times Magazine published yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden reflected on his feelings about the vice presidency when he presided over the troop withdrawal in Iraq. "It's not a particularly great job, this job, but I called him and said, 'All I've said about this job, I take it back,'" Biden said. He may have been beat up on the campaign trail for his slip ups and blunders, but the vice president has shown his willingness to lend his political capital for a job that at times is not as publicly rewarding. And now three weeks into the New Year, Biden has gained that recognition in his role as negotiator in the fiscal cliff negotiations and as the point person for what he described as the "moral obligation" this country has to curb gun violence.
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VIDEO OF THE DAY: WHAT OBAMA CAN LEARN FROM THOMAS JEFFERSON. With his second inauguration just a few days away, Jon Meacham has some advice for President Obama: Take a lesson from your long since deceased predecessor Thomas Jefferson. Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, told ABC's Jonathan Karl in the latest edition of "Politics Confidential," the ABC News-Yahoo! News video series, that one of the keys to Jefferson's success was that he built personal relationships with senators and members of Congress. He says Obama "has not been particularly good at this." Every night Congress was in session, Jefferson would invite members to the White House for dinner and managed to forge friendships with even some of his staunchest critics. "He wanted to weave attachments," says Meacham. "There's a wonderful story about a New England Senator from New Hampshire, a federalist, who came in 1803 two years into Jefferson's term believing Jefferson to be evil incarnate. And he came to dinner so much that by the end of the term they're exchanging pecan recipes." http://yhoo.it/U3nSRl
MARTHA RADDATZ'S LAUNCHES NEW VIDEO SERIES. ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz will host "On the Radar," a new show in the daily "Power Players" series from ABC News and Yahoo! News starting tomorrow. As host of "On the Radar," Raddatz will offer viewers an expansive look at the defense, intelligence and foreign affairs worlds through the lens of U.S. policy and national security. On Friday, "On the Radar" will feature Martha's exclusive interview with out-going Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. From the expansion of U.S. drones to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, every episode will feature interviews with insiders and experts on a variety of topics to help viewers gain context and a deeper understanding of the stories and policy debates on her radar. The new "Power Players" weekly line-up includes: "George's Bottom Line," hosted by George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC's "Good Morning America" and host of "This Week"; " Top Line," hosted by ABC News' Washington Editor Rick Klein and Yahoo! News' Olivier Knox; and " Politics Confidential" with Jonathan Karl, ABC's Chief White House Correspondent. Raddatz's interview with Panetta and all of the "Power Players" videos will be available on the ABC News-Yahoo! News Power Players Blog: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/
NRA PRESIDENT VOWS BATTLE AHEAD. In an interview with ABC News last night, NRA President David Keene said the gun-rights lobby is aggressively preparing for "battle" with the White House and Congress over President Obama's sweeping new proposals to curb gun violence, reports ABC's Devin Dwyer. Keene criticized Obama's announcement today, surrounded by four children from around the country, for "using kids to advance an ideological agenda." And he expressed cautious confidence that few of the legislative measures would ultimately pass. "It's going to be very tough for the president to accomplish some of these things, but that doesn't mean he can't do it if he really turns it on," Keene told ABC. "All bets are off when a president really wants to go to war with you," he said. "We're gonna be there and we're gonna fight it." Keene said passage of the 1994 assault weapons ban remains fresh in the minds of NRA leaders, noting that initial widespread congressional opposition gradually gave way to a narrow margin in favor, thanks in part to pressure from then-President Bill Clinton. NRA members would hold accountable any politicians who "sell them out to some pie-in-the-sky scheme such as the president is proposing," he said. http://abcn.ws/WfjJrR
LIBERAL VOICES UNITE TO SUPPORT OBAMA. Earlier this month, after President Obama struck a deal with Republicans to avert the fiscal cliff, a top official from a leading liberal organization, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, accused the president of being "clueless about how to use leverage in a negotiation." But on Wednesday, the PCCC, as well as a host of other like-minded groups that have not been shy about criticizing the president and challenging mainstream Democratic orthodoxy, were singing a far different tune, ABC's Michael Falcone and Shushannah Walshe note. MoveOn.org, which also ultimately did not back the fiscal compromise earlier this month, on Wednesday praised what the group called "the most sweeping proposal in decades to reduce gun violence and make our communities, schools and streets safer." "MoveOn members in every state and every congressional district are ready to stand up to the NRA and demand that Congress take action to reduce gun violence," said Garlin Gilchrist II, the group's campaign director. "Elected officials in Washington can no longer afford to sit back and wait for the next tragedy and issue hollow statements of sympathy." MoveOn officials said their members plan to meet on Thursday at more than 230 community events across the nation to discuss the new proposals and find ways to put pressure on Congress. And more than 52,000 Progressive Change Campaign Committee members have signed a petition urging lawmakers in Washington to pass an assault weapons ban. http://abcn.ws/13EWMTp
CONGRESSIONAL CRITICISM MOUNTS. Less than an hour after President Obama finished outlining his plan to address gun violence in America, Republicans in Congress fired back, criticizing the president for attacking the Second Amendment, reports ABC's John Parkinson. Sen. Marco Rubio, who many conservatives look to as a viable presidential candidate in 2016, said he would "oppose the president's attempts to undermine Americans' constitutional right to bear arms." Instead, he believes Congress should focus its efforts on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. Michael Steel, spokesman to Speaker John Boehner, reacted to the president's proposals in a brief statement, putting the onus on the Democratic Senate to lead the legislative path to tougher gun laws. "House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations," Steel wrote in an email after the announcement. "And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that." House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said House Republicans "welcome the recommendations of this task force and will consider them" but his committee will plot its own course in addressing gun violence. http://abcn.ws/ZY9h8R
MATT DOWD'S SECOND-TERM ADVICE FOR OBAMA. As President Obama begins the turn from the end of his first term to the beginning of his second term, let us pause and see where the next four years are headed and what the president might want to be cognizant of and do in his second term. There are five key points to keep in mind that have determined the success or failure of a President in his second term. Here's the abridged version:
1. Turnover in staff and cabinet leadership. It is very important for a president to bring in new leaders in a second term. The folks that served in the first term are tired, exhausted, and lack much of the creativity needed to energize a second term.
2. Second term scandals. Be constantly aware and diligent in avoiding scandals and big mistakes that could doom the second term no matter the personnel or vision in place.
3. Rediscover first term vision. It is also important for President Obama to look back at the biggest things he didn't accomplish in his first term and renew an effort to get that done.
4. Simplify second term agenda. Many Presidents have beleaguered second terms because they bit off way more than they could chew. They try to do too many things, and they end up not doing any of them well. Doing a few simple and direct things in a second term is the path to success.
5. Legacy. The final item President Obama should focus on is what is his political legacy post the second term. Who are the new brand of leaders he is bringing in and getting ready to carry on what he began? More from Dowd: http://abcn.ws/VpFruK
OBAMA, PARTY ANIMAL. President Obama pushed back against criticism earlier this week that he is too insular and not social enough in Washington. He said simply, "I like a good party." Yesterday, he reinforced the message, according to ABC's Mary Bruce. Leaving a farewell reception at the Treasury Department for Secretary Timothy Geithner, Obama was asked "So, you like a good party?" "They didn't serve any alcohol," Obama responded with a big grin, as he appeared to munch on something. "Still on a budget," he quipped. Speaking at a news conference Monday, Obama defended himself from the perception that he is aloof and antisocial. "I'm a pretty friendly guy," he said. "When I was in the Senate, I had great relationships over there, and up until the point that I became president, this was not an accusation that you heard very frequently." http://abcn.ws/W85gOp
@MarthaRaddatz: Snr US official tells me situation remains unclear in Algeria. They are trying to get clarity but just don't know anything for sure
@BDayspring: I want my government to solve big problems too (key word being solve, not worsen). But doing it with a label isn't a bad thing.