The Daily 202: Trumpism rejected by Obama in State of the Union and Nikki … – Washington Post


— Barack Obama never mentioned Donald Trump by name during his hour-long State of the Union last night, but he didn’t need to. The millions of Americans who tuned in – for the largest audience that the president may get in 2016 – knew that he was talking about the Republican frontrunner. That alone is a testament to the extent to which the billionaire businessman and first-time political candidate has disrupted the political debate in this country.

Cynics says Obama was trying to elevate Trump to help Democrats, but the reality is simpler: The president, like almost every elected official in Washington, genuinely sees The Donald as a frightening challenge to our country’s institutions and anathema to its values.

[Sign up to get more must-read politics news in The Daily 202 delivered directly to your email inbox]

Obama also knows that much of what he has accomplished over the past seven years will be rolled back if a Republican succeeds him. And the speech sought to frame the campaign to succeed him in those terms.

“America has been through big changes before,” Obama said. “Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future — promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. … Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people?”

Some of the presidential shots across the bow at Trump:

  • “Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms.”
  • “We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. … When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. …  This isn’t a matter of political correctness.”
  • “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”
  • “The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close.”
  • “With TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in that region, we do.”

Obama took implicit digs at other GOP candidates too:

  • Alluding to a recent Ted Cruz comment, he declared: “Our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.”
  • Referring to Chris Christie’s declaration that “We are already in World War III,” the president said: “As we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence!”

— The speech was not a speech to Congress. “It was a sermon to the nation,” Dana Milbank explains. “The president was late to find his moral voice, but it was important that he spoke.”

— Bigger picture, the presidential campaign has overshadowed the president. That much was clear when he opened with a joke about keeping his speech short so that some in the room could “get back to Iowa.”

— In the latest sign that the GOP establishment fears an electoral debacle if Trump is the nominee, the official Republican response from Nikki Haley also made the case – albeit a little more gently – against going down the path Trump offers. “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” the South Carolina governor said. “We must resist that temptation.”

— Haley’s speech has become a Rorschach test on the right.

The far right hated it.

  • Breitbart headlined its story: “Republican Party Uses State Of The Union Response To Attack Trump.”
  • “Trump should deport Nikki Haley,” Ann Coulter wrote in one of six-anti Haley tweets.
  • Radio host Laura Ingraham chimed in:  “The country is lit up w/ a populist fever & the GOP responds by digging in, criticizing the GOP candidates dominating polls?! NOT SMART.”
  • Former Ted Cruz aide Amanda Carpenter wrote: “Haley’s speech would’ve been good except for the GOP self-loathing.”

More mainstream elites in the right-leaning media loved Haley’s speech:

  • Charles Krauthammer, on a Fox News panel, called it the best State of the Union response he can ever recall hearing.
  • The Washington Examiner’s David Drucker said Haley’s response “will likely elevate her to the top of the list of potential vice presidential contenders.”
  • National Review editor Rich Lowry said it’s “always a tough assignment”: “Haley was a little shaky at beginning, but moving treatment of Charleston shooting and nice riff on GOP agenda.”

The responses from some of Trump’s GOP rivals echoed Haley to varying degrees. “We cannot elect Hillary Clinton to the White House,” Carly Fiorina posted on Facebook. “One thing is clear: Hillary Clinton will wipe the floor with Donald Trump.”

— The official Spanish-language GOP response was meaningfully different. The Miami Herald flags that the language on immigration was “decidedly softer” in the version delivered en Espanol by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)

  • Haley: “We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries. I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.”
  • Diaz-Balart: “It’s essential that we find a legislative solution to protect our nation, defend our borders, offer a permanent and human solution to those who live in the shadows, respect the rule of law, modernize the visa system and push the economy forward.”

Highlights from The Post’s coverage:

— To his credit, Obama took a share of the blame for our broken political system: “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” the president said toward the end. “There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.” This sounded like something an employee would write in a self-evaluation.


— Iran freed all 10 of the U.S. Navy sailors who were detained when their vessels went into Iran’s territorial waters. (Fred Barbash, Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff)

This is what the captured boats look like

— NEW NUMBERS: A hot-off-the-presses Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Trump and Bush with historically high negative favorability ratings. Trump’s net favorable rating is negative 27, while Bush’s is negative 23, levels not seen since the 1984 winners of their respective party nods, according to Post polling director Scott Clement. Of all the candidates, only Bernie Sanders is in positive territory, with a net favorable rating of plus 4 percent, while Hillary’s rating is negative 1. Bill Clinton has a higher favorable ratings than all the major candidates, at 53 percent. Meanwhile, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio nab the highest net favorables of the rest of the GOP pack, followed by Chris Christie (then Trump and Bush). Read the full poll results here.

Meanwhile, a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics survey shows Cruz still narrowly leading the GOP back in IOWA, 3 points ahead of Trump. BUT Cruz has dropped 6 points since last month. Rubio places third at 12 percent with Carson at 11 percent and all other Republicans in single digits. A majority — 56 percent — of likely caucusgoers, however, said they could change their minds before the Feb. 1 contest.

Other key numbers from the respected Register poll:

  • Cruz’s favorables in Iowa are impressive at 76 percent; he is the second-choice pick for more voters than any of his rivals
  • 83 percent said they’re not bothered about questions of Cruz’s citizenship
  • 75 percent of caucusgoers seek a “disruptor.”

— The culture war is alive and well: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, giving his State of the State address, doubled down on his pledge to protect “religious freedom.”  From the Indianapolis Star: “Taking a hard conservative line … Pence sided with shielding religious rights in the contentious statewide debate over whether to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers from discrimination. ‘I will not support any bill that diminishes the religious freedom of Hoosiers or that interferes with the constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work,’ Pence said. With his re-election bid looming, the Republican governor cemented his conservative credentials in the speech, also chiding Obama on guns and rejecting proposed tax increases for road improvements.” Big picture: Polls show the Republican is vulnerable as he seeks a second term, and he’s trying to use the issue to gin up his base. But the business community strongly disagrees with him, which creates an opening for a moderate Democrat to defeat him.

— South Korea fired 20 warning shots after North Korea flew a drone over its airspace. (AP)

— Turkey said it arrested three Russians during a raid in Antalya of suspected ISIS fighters. (AP)

In Pakistan, at least 15 people, including 13 police officers, were killed and 23 were injured in a suicide bombing at a polio vaccination clinic. (AP)


  1. The Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s capital punishment process is unconstitutional because it gives power to judges that it is meant for juries. (Robert Barnes)
  2. The St. Louis Rams are moving to Los Angeles, and the San Diego Chargers have the option to join them after NFL owners approved a relocation plan. (Mark Maske)
  3. The House easily passed a bill to impose sanctions on North Korea for its latest nuclear test. (Karoun Demirjian)
  4. Regulators rejected Volkswagen’s proposed fix to cars with software designed to cheat on emissions tests. The feds say the plan had gaps and “lacks sufficient detail.” (Todd C. Frankel)
  5. The Marines will begin awarding titles such as “rifleman” to women who have completed training. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
  6. Swedish police are investigating claims that officers covered up sexual assaults committed by immigrants at a music festival in Stockholm. (Niraj Chokshi)
  7. An Ohio man fatally shot his teenage son after mistaking him for an intruder. (Lindsey Bever)
  8. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) brought the National Guard to Flint to help pass out water bottles and filters as the city struggles with elevated lead levels in its water. (Yanan Wang)
  9. Chicago’s Cook County jail was locked down after it was so short on staff that it couldn’t safely operate. (Brady Dennis)
  10. Pakistani soldiers in Islamabad raided the home and rifled through the documents of a New York Times reporter. (Tim Craig)
  11. Paleontologists discovered the existence of a pre-historic crocodile more than 30 feet long and weighing more than 6,000 pounds. (Elahe Izadi)
  12. Tonya Couch, the mom of “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, was released from a Texas jail after posting bail. (Forth Worth Star-Telegram)
  13. “Sesame Street” will be more modern when it makes its debut on HBO this weekend. Elmo moves into a brownstone and the Cookie Monster helps crime fighters using tablets. (Drew Harwell)


  1. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson was the “designated survivor” during last night’s State of the Union. (WSJ)
  2. Koch Industries pushed back on Jane Mayer’s new book, which says David and Charles’ father helped the Nazis by building a refinery that Adolph Hitler personally green-lighted. “The implication that Fred Koch sympathized with one of the most tyrannical regimes in history is reprehensible and represents the lowest form of journalism,” the company’s president wrote in an open letter. “Many iconic U.S. companies were doing business in Germany, including Coca-Cola, General Motors, Ford and IBM.” (Tom Hamburger)
  3. Rick Perry is now a lobbyist for a Florida dental company. (Houston Chronicle)
  4. The Senate voted 53-44 to block Rand Paul’s bill to strengthen audits of the Federal Reserve. (AP)
  5. The anti-war group endorsed Sanders. (John Wagner)
  6. Aditi Hardikar, the White House’s liaison to the LGBT community, quit to become Clinton’s finance director for coalitions. (Sandhya Somashekhar)
  7. Martin O’Malley blamed the DNC for his failure to get traction. (John Wagner)
  8. Ben Carson promised to have more “pep” during tomorrow’s GOP debate and to force his way into the conversation. “You’re going to see me not being quite so polite,” he said on CNN.
  9. A super PAC is delivering a pro-Trump robocall to Iowa voters from leading white nationalist Jared Taylor. “We don’t need Muslims,” he says in the recording. “We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.” (Peter Holley)
  10. Conservative activist James O’Keefe targets Common Core in his latest undercover video. (Emma Brown)
  11. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) endorsed Mike Huckabee, citing his opposition to abortion.


— “Sorry, Powerball dreamers: There’s no such thing as a ‘lucky store,’” by Michael S. Rosenwald: “With the Powerball jackpot topping $1.5 billion — the largest lottery prize in U.S. history — players throughout the country looking for an edge are turning to stores with winning pedigrees. They are trying to bend the laws of probability and randomness $2 at a time. … The lightning-strikes-twice strategy of lottery play might seem totally batty, but it has been pushed for years by retailers and state lotto organizations, many of which offer lists of historically lucky retailers. … But the odds are the odds — 1 in 292 million, no matter who sells the ticket or where.”


Clinton takes the gloves off: At Iowa State University, she argued that Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” plan would jeopardize the Affordable Care Act by effectively turning over health coverage to the states, many of them led by Republican governors. “If that’s the kind of ‘revolution’ he’s talking about, I’m worried, folks,’” Clinton said.

Accepting the endorsement of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, she mocked Sanders for his defense of a 2005 vote to give immunity to gun manufacturers. “He says, ‘Well, I’m from Vermont,’” Clinton said. “Pat Leahy, the other senator from Vermont, voted against immunity for the gun lobby. So, no, that’s not an explanation.”

During Obama’s speech last night, the Clinton campaign released a new ad hitting Sanders on guns. “President Obama wants to make universal background checks the law of the land and he wants to make sure that gun manufacturers can finally be held accountable when their guns are used to kill our children,” Hillary says to camera. “It’s time to pick a side. Either we stand with the gun lobby or we join the president and stand up to them. I’m with him.” (Watch here.)

— “Clinton’s trend line in Iowa polling should scare her campaign,” writes Philip Bump: “The (Quinnipiac) poll (out yesterday) showed a five-point advantage for Sanders, a 16-point swing over one month. The percentage of people viewing [Clinton] favorably fell from 81 to 74. … The percentage of people who think he can beat the Republican in a general election jumped from 57 percent to 68 percent. … One more bit of bad news is that her support is stronger among people who’ve never been through the unusual caucus process before.”

— THE HILLARY PARADOX: “She is now seen as both increasingly vulnerable and ultimately invincible,” Dan Balz writes in his column today. “The tension between the two provides the narrative that now defines the Democratic nomination contest. … Right now, the passion gap favors Sanders, though by how much and for how long no one can say.”

— Why Sanders thinks he’s closed the gap in the early states: “The Clinton campaign went on TV in Iowa (and New Hampshire) on Aug. 4. We started our media campaign Nov. 4. I think we have made up a lot of ground in both places since then,” Tad Devine, Sanders’ chief strategist, emailed The Fix.


After months of refusing to engage his chief rival for the Iowa crown, Cruz took on The Donald repeatedly yesterday. “At events in New Hampshire and in radio interviews, Cruz took direct aim at Trump on several fronts: tying the billionaire to Hillary Clinton, questioning his ability to win a general election, casting doubt on his ability to serve as commander-in-chief, and calling into question his ‘New York values,’” Katie Zezima reports.


— ZIGNAL VISUAL: In all, there were more than 950,000 Twitter mentions of Obama during last night’s State of the Union. The address hit a host of issues, but it did not include the sharp focus on gun violence that many expected. Here’s a look at the top issues mentioned on social media during the time POTUS spoke, via our analytics partners at Zignal Labs:

Twitter says these were the most tweeted-about moments of the #SOTU:

  1. “I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.”
  2. “We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics.”
  3. “I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo. It’s expensive, it’s unnecessary.”

Facebook says the top social moment on its platform was when Obama criticized anti-Muslim sentiment.

The most discussed issues among women…:

  1. Food stamps
  2. Education
  3. Wall Street

….were very different than the top issues among men:

  1. Islam and Muslims
  2. ISIS
  3. Terrorism

Here’s what Google users were wondering during the evening:

— Everything you want to see from the State of the Union (and maybe more), curated by Elise Viebeck:

The White House circulated this image to set the tone ahead of the speech:

Here’s President Obama making his way in through the chamber door from retiring Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.):

This is what Obama and other leaders saw as they walked down the center aisle:

Earlier in the day, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) posted this shot of his ticket and invitation to the speech:

Around the Capitol complex, television crews were already setting up:

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) took this video of the calm before the storm in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall:

Vice President Biden appeared on the White House’s new Snapchat account to promote the speech (here he is taping the snap):

During the day, Ryan met retired Army staff sergeant and Medal of Honor winner Clinton Romesha:

Later, an unlikely pair — Marco Rubio and Elizabeth Warren — walked together toward the House chamber (following behind Sanders):

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) got a photo with Michael Keaton, who was in attendance:

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) met actor Michael Kelly (a.k.a. Doug Stamper on Netflix’s House of Cards):

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) welcomed a young Syrian refugee, 9-year-old Ahmad, to D.C. to attend the address. Here he is at the Air and Space Museum. (Watch Ahmad play soccer in a Capitol Hill hallway here):

Current and former Obama staff reflected on the importance of the night:

A Hillary aide hoped his boss delivers next year’s speech:

Republicans, meanwhile, were less thrilled with the address:

Kim Davis did not look like she was enjoying the speech. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said he did not realize his office had given a ticket to the Kentucky country clerk, who openly defied a federal court order and went to jail after being held in contempt, until it was publicly reported.


A savvy Twitter user created the account @SOTUclaps to provide GIFs of claps every time Obama received applause:

With Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) at the Capitol, her predecessor/husband considered eating ice cream for dinner:

Finally, here’s a round-up of lawmaker selfies from the floor.

Rep. Vicki Hartzler (R-Mo.) said: “Who knows? Maybe @MarcoRubio will be giving this speech next year”:

Tim Scott (S.C.) with fellow Republican senators Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Pat Roberts (Kan.):

Democratic Reps. Katherine Clark, Cheri Bustos and Lois Frankel:

California sisters Loretta and Linda Sanchez:

And some of the night’s best GIFs:

–Everything else you might have missed:

A Texas Tribune reporter found this note on his car after leaving a Ted Cruz town hall in Londonderry, N.H.:

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who is running for Senate, tried to raise money with Star Wars references:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a father of two, discovered a Galactic Empire starfighter in his pocket:

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) celebrated the anniversary of the election of the first woman senator:

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), one of the system’s more upbeat commuters, took the Metro to work:

The story of how Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) met her husband appeared in Good Housekeeping. “It took me a while to find the helpmate and partner that God had chosen for me, but boy was he worth the wait,” Black wrote on Instagram:

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) snapped a photo of his reflection while facing the Capitol from C-SPAN’s studios:


— Wall Street Journal, “Gov. Chris Christie targets unions, Democrats in State of the State address,” by Heather Haddon and Kate King: “Christie attacked Democrats for pushing a constitutional amendment that would require the state to pay into the pension system for workers at current rates. Mr. Christie wants Democrats to cut benefits instead. Mr. Christie said the Democrats’ pension plan would cause the state to sacrifice spending on health care, education, children and other priorities to ‘pander to pensioners.’ This is the road to ruin,’ Mr. Christie said … The bulk of Mr. Christie’s address was focused on New Jersey issues, in one of his most public returns to state affairs since launching his presidential campaign last June. …. In a carrot-and-stick approach to state Democrats, Mr. Christie also spoke about his administration’s efforts to serve the poor and vulnerable in New Jersey. He called drug treatment one of the most important issues for him personally as governor. He announced $100 million in additional funding for mental-health and substance-abuse services.”


The Congressional Black Caucus is considering asking for a privileged resolution to condemn  Rep. Sean Duffy’s (R-Wis.) comments on abortion in minority areas. From Politico: “Duffy suggested that the Congressional Black Caucus is ignoring the impacts of abortion on minority communities — comments that drew immediate criticism from black lawmakers who felt the message was racially tinged. … Offering a privileged resolution to criticize a colleague is highly unusual, but CBC members say the abortion comments amounted to an attack on the black caucus making a formal criticism of Duffy fair game.”


King Abdullah of Jordan rejected the invitation to speak to House and Senate Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore. From Politico: “Though Abdullah was never confirmed, the optics of meeting with Republicans and not having a face-to-face with President Barack Obama may have proven to be too much.”


–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: 

  • Rand Paul will be on the “Daily Show” with Trevor Noah at 11 p.m. Eastern.
  • Ted Cruz holds a rally at 6 p.m. Eastern in Dorchester, N.H.
  • Chris Christie will be in Manchester and Bedford.
  • Jeb Bush speaks at a breakfast in Urbandale, Iowa.
  • John Kasich has a meet-and-greet in Charleston.
  • Mike Huckabee holds a meet and greet in Davenport.
  • Rick Santorum also speaks at a breakfast, this one in Mt. Pleasant, before heading to Des Moines.

–On the Hill: The House meets at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. First and last votes are expected between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

–At the White House: Obama is headed to Omaha in the morning and will end the day in Baton Rouge.


“I’m in a primary right now. We’re in no hurry to hold hearings.” – Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby explains why he won’t schedule a confirmation hearing for John Mark McWattersto fill one of the vacant Republican seats on the Export-Import bank’s board of directors. “Ex-Im’s board has only two of the five members it’s supposed to have, including Chairman Fred Hochberg,” Politico notes. “That means it can’t approve loans above $10 million, which make up about a third, value-wise, of Ex-Im’s transactions.”


There is no other way to describe today than as a harsh winter day, the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “Temperatures slowly rise through the 20s and, if we’re lucky, top 30 for a couple of hours this afternoon. Even with upper 20s and low 30s for highs, westerly winds of 10 to 15 mph gusting to 20 mph will make it feel like the teens and low 20s. If it’s any consolation, we’ll have ample sun.”

— Fairfax County wants to close schools on Super Tuesday because officials are afraid that Trump supports will cause a ruckus while voting. (Antonio Olivo)

87 passengers who were on a Yellow Line train that became engulfed in smoke one year ago have sued Metro. (Paul Duggan)


Right to Rise released a video it called “the Marco Rubio Flip Flop Dance.” (While the Bush super PAC keeps attacking Rubio, the former Florida governor almost never talks about him on the stump. He trains his fire on Trump.)

Chelsea Clinton campaigned for her mom in New Hampshire:

See Jeb’s new ad about addiction that went up this morning in New Hampshire:

Finally, if you haven’t seen it, here’s an awesome gif of David Bowie’s looks through the years:


Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*