From Costco To Country Music Capitol, Obama Takes SOTU On The Road

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • OBAMA TAKES HIS STATE OF THE UNION PITCH ON THE ROAD: Fresh off last night's speech, the president embarks on a two-day tour touting two initiatives he outlined in the his address to the nation Tuesday night - increasing the minimum wage and the establishment of a starter retirement plan program that millions of Americans will be able to access, ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ reports. The president kicks off his day at a Costco in Lanham, Md. to pressure Congress to increase the minimum wage for all workers. On Tuesday, President Obama highlighted his ability to use executive action to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all future federal contract workers. While in Maryland, the president will also showcase Costco's decision to pay workers a fair wage and their support of increasing the minimum wage. In the afternoon, the president will travel to the United States Steel Corporation Irvin Plant West Mifflin, Pa., where he will provide more details on his executive action to help Americans save for retirement. On Thursday, he continues his tour with a speech at a General Electric gas engines facility in Waukesha, Wis., and remarks at a high school in Nashville, Tenn.
  • MEET THE SOTU GUEST WHO GOT THE MOST APPLAUSE: U.S. Army Ranger Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg had the longest standing ovation of the night at the State of the Union Tuesday night, ABC's ALISA WIERSEMA notes. Remsburg, who has met President Obama on three separate occasions, was almost killed by a roadside bomb explosion in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2009. The explosion left Remsburg in a three-month coma and rendered him partially paralyzed and brain-damaged, according to the White House. The 30-year-old veteran, who joined the Army on his 18th birthday, underwent six hours of occupational, physical and speech therapy per day, and has worked up the ability to walk and speak again. Obama honored Remsburg's tenacity by stating that he "never gives up, and he does not quit" while serving as a reminder that "America never comes easy."
  • JOE BIDEN ON JOBS: Vice president Joe Biden discussed the administration's plans for education and rebuilding the nation's economy in an interview on "Good Morning America" today. WATCH:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: In a speech filled with vows of executive action, the single biggest move may be the promise to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors. Unless, well, it isn't. Astoundingly, the White House can't say how many people will be impacted by this move in the next year. An official acknowledged that estimates of up to 2 million are probably "on the high end," and Vice President Joe Biden said on "Good Morning America" that the number would be in the "tens of thousands." (One would suppose that House Speaker John Boehner's estimate - zero -rests on the low end.) Maybe it's a staff failure not to have a number. Or maybe it's larger than that: if this is the biggest thing the president is doing, maybe he isn't doing anything that's very big. At the very least, if the president is vowing to act unilaterally, some guesstimates about the impact would be a good starting point.


ANALYSIS: A SHRINKING PRESIDENT CONFRONTS HIS LIMITS - WITH A SMILE. It might mark a new chapter - except President Obama recently compared his presidency to a paragraph in the larger story, ABC's RICK KLEIN notes. Make it a new sentence, then, complete with different verbs and upbeat, buzzy nouns: "action," "ladders of opportunity," "we can't wait." It's a sentence pronounced with a different voice, a humbler tone for a different stage of a presidency that's been ground down by Washington realities. There's an urgency there that betrays both diminished ambitions and a new awareness of the limitations of presidential power. "Let's see where else we can make progress together," President Obama said. "Let's make this a year of action." The president on Tuesday night outlined a vision for the remainder of his presidency that's both larger and smaller. He's aiming larger in terms of what he can accomplish by himself, and quickly. Yet he's also aiming smaller. The actions he outlined - items like a higher minimum wage for federal contractors, and commitments from companies to consider hiring the long-term unemployed - represent incremental movement from the man who famously declared, "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

STATE OF THE UNION FACT CHECK: OBAMA'S RHETORIC VS. REALITY. From income inequality, to solar power to the minimum wage to Afghanistan, the ABC News Political Team fact checked 13 of President Obama's claims in last night's State of the Union address.

THE STATE OF THE UNION IN 6 GIFS. President Obama called for action in what he dubbed a "breakthrough year" during the State of the Union address Tuesday night. Here's recap of the night in 6 GIFS (spoler alert: Joe Biden and John Boehner sort of stole the show):

STATE OF THE UNION: BY THE NUMBERS. As all the talk about the words in President Obama's State of the Union address begins, here's the speech by the numbers, from ABC's ALI WEINBERG: 80 applause interruptions; 15 minutes, 36 seconds - total length of those interruptions; 3 laughter interruptions; 40 standing ovations (19 of them bipartisan, 21 Democrats-only); 36 rounds of bipartisan applause; 42 rounds of Democrats-only applause; 2 rounds where it was too hard to tell. And for some historical perspective, this was the second-most-interrupted State of the Union the president has delivered. He got more applause in 2010, getting interrupted 102 times for applause.

NY CONGRESSMAN THREATENS TO THROW REPORTER OFF BALCONY - ON CAMERA. Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., threatened to "break" a local reporter in half and throw him off the balcony in the Capitol rotunda during a post-State of the Union interview turned toxic, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. Grimm, who is under federal investigation over his 2010 campaign financing, refused to answer a question from NY1 reporter Michael Scotto about the investigation. But as the cameras continued rolling, Grimm returned to physically confront Scotto, and according to a transcript posted by NY1, threatened him. "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f***ing balcony," Grimm says. After several seconds, the confrontation continues slightly off-camera, but Grimm added more as he walked away. "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy," he said. The video, which aired on NY1-s broadcast, is riveting.

-WAR OF WORDS: Grimm issued a statement, slamming what he called the reporter's "disrespectful and cheap shots." "I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests," Grimm said in the statement provided to NY1. NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt also released a statement. "It is extremely disturbing when anyone threatens one of our reporters - let alone a U.S. congressman," Hardt said. "The NY1 family is certainly alarmed and disappointed by the behavior of Rep. Grimm and demands a full apology from him. This behavior is unacceptable."

REPUBLICAN STATE OF THE UNION RESPONSE GETS PERSONAL. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers struck a decidedly personal note in the official Republican response Tuesday night to President Obama's State of the Union address, reports ABC's JORDYN PHELPS. McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the highest ranking female member of the House of Representatives and the first in her family to graduate from college, spoke in length about her life story in building the Republican case that President Obama's address fell short in connecting with the real problems facing Americans. "I grew up working at my family's orchard and fruit stand in Kettle Falls, a small town in eastern Washington, getting up before dawn with my brother to pick apples," McMorris Rodgers said. "The chance to go from my Washington to this one was unexpected. I came to Congress to help empower people, not politicians; to grow the working middle class, not the government." She said that the president's speech failed to offer solutions for the real challenges facing real Americans and that his policies "are making people's lives harder." "Tonight the President made more promises that sound good, but won't actually solve the problems actually facing Americans," McMorris Rodgers said.


DEMOCRATIC RESEARCH BACKS UP OBAMA WITH MINIMUM WAGE REPORT. The Bridge Project, an offshoot of the Democratic research organization, American Bridge 21st Century, is releasing a report today called "Hard Work, Unfair Pay" to be sent to key Capitol Hill offices and progressive allies. According to an official with the group, "Our goal is for it to serve as a resource for allies on the Hill and around town as they make the case for giving America a raise. We use American Bridge-style quotes/votes from two dozen Republicans making the case for increasing the minimum wage back in 2007." Bridge Project vice president Eddie Vale said in a statement, "As we heard President Obama address last night, the American promise of opportunity for all means we can't afford to overlook those in our society we too often take for granted. The idea that someone who works hard day in and day out would be able to support a family should not be a controversial one - and it didn't used to be. If Republicans are sincere about joining President Obama's Year of Action, then they should follow his lead and raise the minimum wage." READ THE REPORT:


@JohnBerman: "I'm going to break you in half. Like a lizard." #OtherThingsThatDontReallyBreakInHalf.

@thegarance: Here is the fantastic NYT story from August on Obama and Corey Remsberg over the years: …

@BeschlossDC: Senator Henry Clay proposed Compromise of 1850 this day in effort to avert Civil War: #LOC

@ThisIsFusion: How many people signed up for Obamacare in your state?

@JillDLawrence: Obama #SOTU was "same old story," says GOP, & proves it. But that's politics: constant repetition en route to results

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