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Wake Up To Politics - January 12, 2016

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Tuesday, January 12, 206
20 Days until the Iowa Caucuses
301 Days Until Election Day 2016 I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
To send me questions, comments, tips, new subscribers, and more: email me at wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com. To learn more about WUTP and subscribe, visit the site: wakeuptopolitics.com, or like me on Twitter and Facebook. More ways to engage with WUTP at the bottom.    White House Watch

  • The President’s Schedule At 9pm Eastern Time, President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address in the House chamber.
  • A State of the Union message is mandated by Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union”.
  • This fairly vague constitutional requirement has developed into an annual presidential address to a joint session of Congress and other guests, nationally televised, and produced with heightened pomp and circumstance. The State of the Union is a key event of the political calendar, and a prime chance for the President to make the case for his agenda to the American people.
  • For President Obama’s last of these addresses, the White House says he will be delivering a “non-traditional” speech. Instead of delivering a laundry list of requests to Congress – or “recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient,” as Article II, Section 3 puts it – Obama will focus on legacy-defining poetry, not agenda-setting prose.
  • The President will focus on more “big ideas” than specific requests, and will also speak optimistically about the nation’s future and the progress his Administration has made in the past seven years.
  • Since State of the Union messages have been delivered since George Washington in 1790, many traditions have sprung up around the annual event. Here is how a few will manifest themselves this year:
  • Attendance Members of both chambers of Congress will be in attendance, as will the President’s Cabinet, Justices of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Members of Congress, and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
  • These bodies show up in varying numbers from year to year, although some exceptions are set in stone: four Members of Congress (representing both house and both parties) and one member of the Cabinet always serve as the “designated survivor” who stay away from the Capitol, to ensure continuity of government *just in case*.
  • “Lenny Skutniks” Since Ronald Reagan in 1982, Presidents have invited guests who personify themes of their address to sit in the First Lady’s box during the State of the Union. This year, those guests include the woman behind “Fired Up! Ready to go!” (a popular chant from Obama’s 2008 campaign); a Syrian refugee; the first female Army Ranger School graduate; a 12-year-old involved in Let’s Move!; the CEO of Microsoft; the plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark marriage equality case; the partner of a San Bernardino victim; and activists working for issues ranging from criminal justice reform to veterans homelessness, and opoid reform to STEM education. In addition, a vacant seat will be left open in the First Lady’s box to honor victims of gun violence.
  • Opposition Response Since 1966, a member of the opposition party has rebutted the President’s address with a televised response immediately following it. Tonight, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will deliver the “Republican Address to the Nation” – how the party is stylizing the response this year, in an attempt to place Haley’s speech and Obama’s on equal footing. Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart will deliver the response in Spanish.
  • HOW TO TUNE IN The President’s address will begin at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central, and will be broadcast live on all major network news and cable news channels and on NPR. The White House will also be streaming an enhanced version of the speech on its website, and providing live commentary on the text of the address with the annotating app Genius.

2016 Central

  • State of the Early States Every week, I provide an update on the 2016 race with Whiteboard Wednesday – my visual representation of the change in each candidate’s national polling average. Occasionally, I also like to check in on polls from the early states. Today, I look at the most recent Republican polls from Iowa and New Hampshire:
  • Iowa Donald Trump remains ahead of the GOP pack in the Hawkeye State, with 31% of the vote – according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday – but Ted Cruz is right behind him at 29%. The numbers for both Trump and Cruz represent a slight uptick from their percentages in Quinnipiac’s last poll, conducted in December (+2% for Cruz, +3% for Trump).
  • Marco Rubio is the only other candidate to take double digits, although he remains far behind Trump and Cruz, taking 15% (a 1% increase).
  • Rubio is followed by Ben Carson, who saw a 3-point decrease to 7%, and Chris Christie at 4% (a 1% increase).
  • The rest of the pack sees only slight changes in their December numbers, with Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee tying at 3%, John Kasich and Rand Paul tying at 2%, and Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum tying at 1%.
  • New Hampshire In the Granite State, a Monmouth University poll out Monday showed larger changes in the state since the organization last polled in November. Donald Trump leads in New Hampshire as well, but by a much larger amount – taking 32% of the vote, a 6-point bump.
  • In second place, Ted Cruz shoots up five points and John Kasich three for a tie at 14%. Marco Rubio is close behind them, with 13% (a 1% decrease).
  • Chris Christie leads the single-digit contenders, with 8% of the vote (+3%), followed by Carly Fiorina at 5% (no change). Jeb Bush (-3%) and Rand Paul (+1%) tie with 4% each. Mike Huckabee takes 1%, and Rick Santorum 0%.
  • Finally – in the most notable change: Ben Carson drops an astounding 13 points, plummeting from second place in November to a dismal 3% showing now.
  • Presidential Campaign Meets Talk Shows The two presidential frontrunners went on talk shows Monday, with Democrat Hillary Clinton visiting daytime host Ellen DeGeneres at “The Ellen Show” and Republican Donald Trump going on the late-night “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon.
  • Best segments:
  • Trump with Fallon: “Mock Job Interview for President with Donald Trump”
  • Best line – Fallon: “Do you want to tell me a little bit about yourself?” Trump: “Well, I’m an extraordinarily handsome person, I have a beautiful head of hair, I was always a good student, and I always worked hard.”
  • Clinton with DeGeneres (and the actor who plays President in “Scandal): “Ellen, Hillary Clinton & Tony Goldwyn Play 'Heads Up!'”
  • Best scene: Clinton and DeGeneres trying to act out “photobombing”.

Capitol Hill News

  • Senate: Today At 2:30pm today, the Senate will hold a procedural vote on Federal Reserve Transparency Act – better known as “Audit the Fed,” Rand Paul’s signature bill.
  • Pau, a Kentucky Republican, has been attempting to pass an “Audit the Fed” measure since entering the Senate, but has never gotten a vote on his proposal. Now that the bill is being voted in, it seems unlikely Paul will overcome the 60-vote hurdle required for his measure to advance. Currently, Paul has just 26 cospsonsers (all Republicans) to the bill, including Marco Rubio (FL) and Ted Cruz (TX), two of his top rivals for the Presidency.
  • The bill would compel the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a full audit of the Federal Reserve.
  • While the cloture vote today is expected to fail, Paul will still gain much-needed attention for his failing presidential campaign, especially in light of the announcement that he will pushed off of Thursday’s main debate stage and has declined an invitation to the undercard.
  • House: Today The House will vote on two measures today:
  • the Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining (STREAM) Act, which prevents implantation of an Obama Administration regulation to “update standards for buffer zones around streams where mining and waste are banned,” according to The Hill.
  • the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act, which punishes North Korea for its nuclear test last week by denying the nation hard currency, which is needed for a nuclear weapon program. This vote was slated to be held Monday, but was postponed.
  • Entering the State of the Union The House will adjourn for the day at 5:30pm today, allowing its members ample time to claim a seat from which to watch the President’s address. Members often take the coveted aisle seats and stay there until the address, at risk of losing the seat to a colleague.
  • At 8:20pm, members of the Senate will gather to proceed as a body to the House chamber and claim their reserved seats, where they will arrive at 8:25pm. House Members are expected to be in their seats at this time. The Vice President and Speaker of the House take their traditional seats on the dais, behind where the President will stand as he speaks. This is Speaker Paul Ryan’s first time on the dais for a State of the Union address.
  • After all members of Congress are seated, the Deputy Sergeant at Arms will announce to the Speaker the arrival of the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, then the Chief Justice, then the Associate Justices, and finally, the Cabinet.
  • At precisely 9:01:30pm, the President will enter the chamber, as the House Sergeant at Arms loudly announces: “Mister Speaker, the President of the United States!”

Question of the Day

  • Today’s Question Which President was the first to deliver a televised State of the Union address at nighttime?
  • Email me (wakeuptopolitics@gmail.com) with your answer by the end of the day; correct respondents get the greatest prize of all: mention in tomorrow’s edition of Wake Up To Politics!

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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie podcast, and St. Louis Public Radio; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki, and read about Gabe in Politico, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light