By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- HUCKABEE WEIGHS IN ON LIBIDOS: Speaking at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting yesterday, former presidential candidate and Arkansas governor turned radio and television host Mike Huckabee slammed Democrats for using the birth control mandate in President Obama’s health care law to “insult” women with the suggestion that their libido and reproductive system can’t be controlled without the help of government. “If Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government, then so be it,” Huckabee said. Huckabee has been making similar comments recently, including in an appearance on a conservative television show earlier this week. http://abcn.ws/1hPu3mn
- DEMOCRATS POUNCE: “Mike Huckabee has no idea what he’s talking about,” Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “If this is the GOP rebrand a year later then all they’ve gotten is a year older.”
- REPUBLICANS PICK MCMORRIS RODGERS TO ANSWER OBAMA: Also yesterday, Congressional Republican leaders announced that House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State will deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address next Tuesday. McMorris Rodgers is the only member of Congress to give birth three times in office, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY notes. Her latest: A daughter, Brynn Catherine Rodgers, who was born in November. She broke her own record, as the giving birth twice while in office. Her daughter Grace was born in 2010 and son Cole was born in 2007. Rodgers, 44, is a rising Republican in Congress. She’s the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, a member of leadership team, She was selected by Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders, as one aide tells ABC News, to put a “terrific face” on the Republican Party.
THIS WEEK ON ‘THIS WEEK’: In his first Sunday morning interview, White House press secretary Jay Carney previews President Obama’s State of the Union address, only on “This Week.” Plus, House Counterterrorism and Intelligence Sub-Committee Chair Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., weighs in on the latest terrorism threats to the Sochi Olympic Games. And the “This Week” powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC News’ Cokie Roberts, Yahoo News national political columnist Matt Bai, CNN “Crossfire” co-host Van Jones, Patriot Voices chair and former Sen. Rick Santorum, and Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren. Plus, filmmaker Greg Whiteley discusses his unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the Romney family and campaign for his new documentary “Mitt,” premiering on Netflix this weekend. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. TUNE IN SUNDAY: http://abcnews.go.com/thisweek GRETA VAN SUSTEREN QUIZ: http://abcn.ws/1eFY5Yh
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: Get the jokes out of the way now, because Vegas is for real, baby. Las Vegas is extremely serious about its bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the way the city’s boosters are wooing RNC members at the winter meeting in Washington tells you something significant about how Sin City wants to be viewed. Kansas City brought barbecue-flavored popcorn, Denver handed out Coors beer, Phoenix sponsored a party, and Columbus sent some Chamber of Commerce-type brochures – but Vegas brought WiFi to RNC members this week. The message: Vegas just plain works for delegates who want things to run smoothly – and who don’t want to sit on buses all week long. Oh, the city also sponsored a few free wine-and-beer lounges at the Renaissance, complete with comfortable seating and an all-star team of Republican operatives and former elected officials. There are lots of arguments against Las Vegas, as the other cities are keen to point out. But one top official from a rival city was spotted using the free WiFi on Thursday – and relaxing with some free snacks.
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
INSIDE THE DEMOCRATS’ GAME PLAN FOR TAKING ON THE GOP IN 2014. Despite the GOP establishment’s attempts to reclaim the party from the influence of the Tea Party, one leading Democratic advocacy group is kicking off the election year by making the case that the moderate wing of the Republican Party has been stained by a spillover of the Tea Party. Americans United for Change is out with a new website and report, “Tea Stained,” that ranks 47 Republican members of Congress up for reelection in competitive races on the basis of how closely the member has voted with the Tea Party. The effort demonstrates that Democratic-aligned groups plan to link all Republicans- including moderates – to the Tea Party in the upcoming election. “Republicans ran with the Tea Party in 2010. They didn’t distance themselves from the Tea Party nominated their candidates in 2012. We’ll see how much they want to embrace them in 2014,” Americans United for Change president Brad Woodhouse told “Top Line’s” RICK KLEIN and OLIVIER KNOX. Though Woodhouse said the Tea Party is “stronger than ever in the Republican House of Representatives,” he thinks the ultra-conservative movement is “very anti-government in ways that are not reflective of swing voters.” http://yhoo.it/1jshG2D
OBAMA WANTS MAYORS TO HELP HIM BYPASS CONGRESS. President Obama told a group of mayors at the White House on Thursday that he’s relying on them to help advance his agenda when Congress won’t act, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. “I want to work with Congress whenever and wherever I can. But the one thing I’m emphasizing to all my Cabinet members is we’re not going to wait,” Obama told a group of 250 mayors at the White House. “Where Congress is debating things and hasn’t been able to pull the trigger on stuff, my administration’s going to move forward, and we’re going to … do it in partnership with all of you.” “Every day mayors are proving that you don’t have to wait for the gridlock to clear in Congress in order to make things happen,” he said. Vice President Joe Biden said mayors are “the one group of elected officials that get things done in large part because you have no option but to get things done.” The mayors were in Washington, D.C., for the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. http://abcn.ws/KPCyBO
NOTED: WHITE HOUSE REJECTS BOARD URGING TO HALT SURVEILLANCE. The White House sharply disagreed yesterday with a report from an oversight board that concluded the government’s surveillance program is illegally collecting phone records of Americans and recommended the practice be discontinued. “We simply disagree with the board’s analysis on the legality of the program,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. The report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board comes one week after President Obama introduced his suggestions for reforming the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices, including transferring the storage of metadata away from the government. The president met with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in the weeks prior to his final decision. http://abcn.ws/1jIRKNK
STUDENT ASKS CHRISTIE: ‘HOW DO YOU KEEP EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL?’ New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited a school in Camden Thursday, and aside from his inauguration speech Tuesday it was his first public event since Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer accused his administration of bullying tactics, according to ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. He didn’t take any questions from press, instead briskly walking out of the event at Dudley Family School to shouted press questions with a “No questions today, guys.” He did field some questions from children at the elementary school, though, with one asking the governor, “How do you keep everything under control?” He answered with a laugh, “Not so well sometimes, it depends on the day, man, it depends on the day.” “This is what you have to learn in life, you can try and control everything, but you can’t,” Christie said, the closest he came to addressing the controversy Thursday. “So sometimes things get out of control and what matters is how you fix them when it gets out of control…every once in a while it doesn’t work out and you got to make sure you go ahead and fix it when it doesn’t work out.” http://abcn.ws/1eXttAc
DOES CONDI RICE HAVE HER EYE ON A POLITICAL CAREER? For a career foreign policy wonk, Condoleezza Rice has been spending a lot of time outside her comfort zone lately, notes ABC’s ALI WEINBERG. Over the past few years, she’s tackled education reform during her show-stealing speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention; immigration, speaking today at an event with a bipartisan task force she serves on; and has made plenty of overtly political moves as a star surrogate for Mitt Romney and female Republicans nationwide. And this March, Rice will deliver the keynote address for the National Republican Congressional Committee and headline the California Republican Party’s spring convention luncheon. Her calendar is enough to make the casual observer wonder whether the former secretary of state is mapping out her own political future. But Rice, occasionally called the “Warrior Princess” during her tenure in the George W. Bush White House, is content to be a happy warrior for the Republican Party, her friends and former colleagues said. “These are not new clues. This is a consistent pattern of helpful behavior toward other Republicans in the cause,” Ari Fleischer, who was George W. Bush’s press secretary while Rice was his national security adviser, said. http://abcn.ws/1jFoac0
@amyewalter: Ds need to carry those making >$50K by 20+ pts. Today, Obama’s at 47% w/ them. http://cookpolitical.com/story/6650
@HotlineScott: Nearly half of voters say they’d reelect their congressman, per @Gallup. 46% is low, historically, but still… http://www.gallup.com/poll/167024/record-low-say-own-representative-deserves-election.aspx …
@matthewjdowd: when what we think, say and do is in alignment is where happiness is found. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/power-message-starts-mirror/story?id=21614482 …
@BuzzFeedBen: “I love Barbra Streisand,” says Donna Brazile, “but Beyoncé is what’s happening now.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/magazine/hillary-clinton.html?_r=1&referrer= …