The Daily Rundown | February 13, 2013
>>> let's go to my first reads of the morning. the president's state of the union address ended up arguably as three speeches in one. it started out with a focus on the looming economic and budget crises that washington 's about to face. moved on to a laundry list of familiar sounding domestic proposals. and it closed with an emotional appeal on gun violence . unusually passionate for a state of the union speech . and it's the part of the night that's going to end up probably leaving the most lasting impression. it began as an odd night. without the usual washington buildup. and though the president didn't actually have to share a split screen with the man hunt in southern california as bill clinton most famously did with the o.j. simpson verdict back in 1997 in his state of the union address , that burning cabin and the rogue cop believed to be inside dominated the country's attention right up to the start of the president's address. in the moments before the president entered the house chamber, forensic tests were officially trying to identify human remains found in the burned debris of the cabin where police say christopher dorner had barricaded himself. then we got the speech. the president's mostly run of the mill speech. for most of it. it touched on familiar themes. making the case that government has a vital role to play in promoting a thriving economy.
>> it is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad based growth.
>> a new play on the famous bill clinton line. president tackled his biggest challenge, the economy, by invoking a phrase he used a lot during the 2012 campaign. the middle class .
>> the true engine of america 's economic growth a rising, thriving middle class . middle class . prosperity. broad shared, built on a thriving middle class . a growing economy that creates good middle class jobs.
>> and taking a page from the last democratic president, bill clinton , president obama offered what seemed like a laundry list of poll tested ideas on the economy, education and energy.
>> raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. to make high quality preschool available to every single child in america . i'm announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hopes. a new college scorecard that parents and students can use. i propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to form an energy security trust.
>> here's why we're using that phrase poll test. it's not meant to be derogatory toward the white house or the president. it's the fact is these are the pocketbook quality of life issues that average voters tell pollsters all the time that they care about. issues like education. they always show up bigger in polls than they do among polls with washington pundits. you can tell the white house is full of folks who know what sells on a campaign trail. the president will hit the road for the rest of the week traveling today to asheville, north carolina . he's going to highlight his plans to, quote, make america a magnet for manufacturing. atlanta tomorrow. chicago on friday. last night on a phone call with supporters the president rolled out a new hashtag. jobs now. to underline his economic message. the president also, though, ended upta taking a tough tone with congressional republicans .
>> the greatest nation on earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. let's agree right here, right now to keep the people's government open. and pay our bills on time. and always uphold the full faith and credit of the united states of america .
>> it wasn't just then. the president lectured congress throughout the speech. sprinkling it with direct threats, even, including this one on climate change .
>> we can choose to believe that superstorm sandy and the most severe drought in decades and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science. i urge this congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan market based solution to climate change . like the one john mccain and joe lieberman worked on together a few years ago. but if congress won't act soon to protect future generations, i will.
>> that barely veiled message to republicans in congress , if you really hate the epa now, just watch how i empower them through executive action . overall, the president's message to congress was hardly conciliatory. the most praise he lavished on members was about efforts on immigration reform .
>> as we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and i applaud their efforts. let's get this done. send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and i will sign it right away and america will be better for it.
>> by the way, buried in the speech is something that the president didn't want to advertise, but was there as a hint to republicans on where he's ready to compromise on the deficit and sequester. he called for cuts to medicaid equal to what bowles/simpson proposed. never said the number. close to $300 billion. but he stated it as a goal. folks, this is where the compromise in march will happen in some form. but it was the way the president ended his speech that will -- that gave it -- will give the staying power of the address. raw emotion is something you don't often see in a state of the union . but talking about his proposals to curb gun violence , the president rode the applause lines almost as if he was at a rally or speaking before a congregation. invoking the memory of gun victims, like hadiah pendleton who performed at the inauguration and later was shot and killed not far from the president's home in chicago.
>> her parents are in the chamber tonight. along with more than two dozen americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence . they deserve a vote. [ applause ] gabby giffords deserves a vote. the families of newtown deserve a vote. the families of aurora deserve a vote. the families of oak creek and tucson and blacksburg and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence , they deserve a simple vote.
>> powerful stuff. despite the emotion, let's remember what the president was asking for. not passage. simply a vote on gun proposals in congress . it's an acknowledgment that many of the proposals may be headed for defeat. finally, last night was florida senator marco rubio 's moment in the sun. he delivered a surprisingly combative response to the president for rubio and pleasing the base. but did he broaden the republican party 's reach? this was the reason why he was picked. rubio leaning on his own biography to soften what was a message with an edge. more government isn't going to help get you ahead. it's going to hold you back. more government isn't going to create more opportunities. it's going to limit them. mr. president, i don't oppose your plans because i want to protect the rich. i oppose your plans because i want to protect my neighbors.
>> in a 2,500 word address rubio mentioned the middle class 16 times. actually twice as many times as the president did in his speech. which was more than twice as long. and rubio made an effort to paint himself as the anti- romney buy gr biographically. playing up his humble roots and even the fact that he was still in debt as of a few months ago.
>> this ideal is personal. my parents immigrated here in pursuit of the opportunity to improve their life. they made it to the middle class . my dad working as a bartender and my mother as a cashier and a maid. i didn't inherit any money from them. mr. president, i still live in the same working class neighborhood i grew up in. my neighbors aren't millionaires. when i finished school, i owed over $100,000 in student loans . a debt i paid off just a few months ago.
>> rubio 's speech was almost arguably, though, a rehash of what we heard from romney and the gop in 2012 . he accused the president of believing the free enterprise system is the source of america 's problem. he said that the president wants to grow the size of government. and he attacked the health care law . all of those messages had hundreds of millions of dollars behind them in 2012 . and that presidential election , we know what it got romney . rubio 's speech and the water lunge, though, which has gone viral, was also a reminder of why the state of the union response is a trap door politically. an assignment that's always fraught with peril. after the moment took off on social media last night, rubio tried to make light of it, tweeting a water bottle . and he was self-deprecating again today when he did a round of morning show interviews. in each one of them gulping water.
>> you know, when you talk a lot, it happens. unfortunately when you're giving a speech you have a podium and the water is there. when you're standing up in front of a camera you don't have that option. i had been a long day at work. i'd already taped an 18 minute speech in spanish. i'm just glad the water was nearby. i don't know what i would have done without it.
>> would you like to have a swig before we get started?
>> sure, absolutely.
>> the republican party was hoping to present a unified message with a new messenger, having nonwhite male deliver its response. the republicans didn't already know the party was divided, it was clear last night. if you're a republican you had to pick and choose your own republican response.
>> both parties have been guilty of spending too much. of protecting their sacred cows . of back room deals in which everyone up here wins, but every taxpayer loses. it's time republicans , myself included, realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.
>> by the way, got to give rand paul credit. he knew where the camera was. here's what seems pretty clear after the president's speech. he has a long way to go to change any minds in congress . it wasn't a persuasion speech. the responses were along typical partisan lines. house speaker john boehner , the president had an opportunity to offer a solution tonight and he let it slip by. the president instead appears to have chosen a go it alone approach to pursue his liberal agenda. republican leader mcmcconnell said in a statement kentuckians aren't interested in false promises. he led with that because he's running for re-election. i think the president missed an opportunity tonight to lay out a serious economic plan kentuckians could really relate to and to reach out across the aisle to get it done. congressman paul ryan responded with this. i'm concerned the president doesn't fully appreciate the challenge of our national debt and its threat to our economy. tonight he outlined many new programs in detail. but when it came to spending restraint, he was remarkably brief. this is the trap, though, that did the white house set for republicans . republicans today in washington talking about the debt. talking about the deficit. talking about the budget. the president's going to go out there talking about those pocketbook issues that poll very well. this was the trap republicans fell into the '90s with bill clinton . and it's one that the white house thinks politically they may have set for the republicans going forward. all right.