Marco Rubio Reply To State Of The Union Address: Can He Meet Expectations?

Marco Rubio is the “it” man of the Republican Party.

The junior senator from Florida is Latino, young, articulate, and photogenic – and on Tuesday night, he will deliver the GOP response to President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address. In a first, he will give the speech in both English and Spanish.

On his back, Senator Rubio carries the hopes of a party that lost badly among Latino voters in the presidential race, winning just 27 percent. But Rubio represents more than just outreach to the America’s fastest-growing ethnic minority: He is, Republicans hope, a bridge to other minorities who also fled Mitt Romney in droves.

“He may not consider himself the savior, but he’s got to be the savior for at least one night,” says Ford O’Connell, chairman of the conservative CivicForumPAC.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Could New Karl Rove Primary Group Backfire On GOP?

From Nate Silver at The New York Times:

The strategist Karl Rove and his allies last week announced the formation of Conservative Victory Project, a new “super PAC” designed to lend support to what they see as more electable candidates in Republican Senate primaries.

An analysis of Republican Senate primaries in 2010 and 2012 suggests that money is usually the least pressing problem for the incumbents and other establishment-backed candidates whom Mr. Rove’s group might be inclined to support. Instead, some insurgent candidates won their races despite having been at more than a 10-to-1 fund-raising disadvantage heading into the primary.

The money raised by Mr. Rove’s group might also be more likely to help candidates if it is directed toward functions other than advertising which have a lower public profile, although coordination rules related to super PACs can limit such efforts.

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State of Union Response Carries Risk For Marco Rubio

After the State of the Union address Tuesday night, Sen. Marco Rubio steps before the cameras to deliver one of the Republican responses — and the stakes couldn’t be higher for the high-profile young senator.

“He has the weight of a party on his shoulders, not to mention he is going toe-to-toe with the most popular person in office right now,” said Ford O'Connell, who served as the rural outreach director for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“I think, in some ways, his potential 2016 aspirations are on the line,” he said about a possible Rubio presidential bid. “I think the party needs Rubio to be successful more than Rubio needs Rubio to be successful because we are at a time when we need new leaders.”

Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times

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Among U.S. Evangelicals, Surprising Support For Immigration Reform

Thou shalt compromise, at least on immigration reform.

That is the message being heard from some leading evangelicals in the United States. After decades of promoting traditionally conservative causes like opposition to abortion, many evangelical leaders are now wielding their formidable influence to persuade Republican lawmakers to back one of President Barack Obama's top priorities.

While evangelicals have been a major force in Republican politics for years, Republican lawmakers will take some persuading to back the sort of immigration reform supported by President Barack Obama, which includes a "pathway" to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

"Some of them don't necessarily see or acknowledge the changing demographics or the electoral merits of passing immigration reform, but I do think that many of these religious leaders could push them in that direction by really referencing the humanitarian interest, or moral argument," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.

"This is one area where social conservative input is extremely welcomed by the Republican Party," said O'Connell.

Read more from Alistar Bell at Reuters

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Karl Rove's Efforts Will Improve The 'Party Of Ideas'

With all that in mind, what are we to make of Karl Rove's new venture, the Conservative Victory Project? Is it, as former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour suggests, "a bad idea whose time has come?" Or is it yet another quixotic Rovian quest that squanders more money, divides more conservatives, and produces less and less in the way of concrete results?

The point Rove makes has merit. The real impediment to national greatness is not opponents in some Republican primary but President Obama—the most radically leftist president in our lifetimes. And with control of the Senate achievable in 2014, Republicans would do well to remember the Buckley Rule—in primaries, support the most conservative candidate who is electable.

We're a party of ideas. Let those ideas compete. Let Karl play. And let his opponents grow strong. As Rep. Tom Cole, the Oklahoman and former chief House fundraiser says, when it comes to primaries, "the more the merrier."

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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2012 Union Membership By The Numbers

From the Bureau Of Labor Statistics:

In 2012, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers 
who were members of a union--was 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent
in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year.
Highlights from the 2012 data:
   --Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.9 percent) more than
     five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent). 
--Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rates, at 35.4 and 34.8 percent, respectively. --Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian,
or Hispanic workers. --Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (23.2 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (2.9 percent).
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Voter Turnout: Midterms Versus Presidential Elections

From Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball:

 - Average Turnout In Presidential Elections (1964-2008): 60.2%

 - Average Turnout In Midterm Elections (1966-2010): 46.2% 

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Are Moderate Voters The Key To Presidential Victories?

From Charlie Cook at The NationalJournal:

So if Democrats can reliably count on winning the lion’s share of the votes of Democrats and liberals while Republicans can be equally assured of the support of Republicans and conservatives, the question that arises is whether it’s independents or moderates that are decisive.

Last year, while Romney won among the 29 percent of voters who identify themselves as independents by 5 points, 50 to 45 percent, he lost among the much larger group, the 41 percent who self-describe as moderates, by 15 points, 56 to 41 percent. Though congressional Republicans carried the independent vote by 7 points, they lost the moderate vote by 16 points. While conservatives certainly have bragging rights over liberals in terms of self-identification—a 10-point edge—the fact that Republicans do so badly among the largest group, moderates, is more important.

The point of all of this is not to be dismissive of the importance of independent voters and obsessed with moderates, but to show that both of those groups matter and that either party that ignores either of those sectors does so at its own peril.

As we come out of the year-end fiscal-cliff crisis, there are other fights over the next three months that look equally challenging, if not more so. And the public-opinion fight is more likely to be won by whichever party seems to offer the message of balance that appeals to these moderate voters, who are obviously neither liberal nor conservative ideologues, and who are more pragmatic than dogmatic.

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Debt Ceiling For Federal Budget?

From Byron York At The Washington Examiner:

Tuesday marks the 1,350th day since the Senate passed a budget. The law requires Congress to pass a budget every year, on the grounds that Americans deserve to know how the government plans to spend the trillions of taxpayer dollars it collects, along with dollars it borrows at the taxpayers' expense. But Majority Leader Harry Reid, who last allowed a budget through the Senate in April 2009, has ignored the law since then.

There are no specific proposals yet, but under this scenario Republicans would insist on a debt ceiling agreement that includes (among other things) a requirement that Congress pass a budget by a specific date. If that doesn't happen, there would be some sort of enforcement mechanism, perhaps an arrangement whereby the debt ceiling was lowered, or one in which Congress would have to muster a supermajority to raise it again.

Indeed, it's true that Reid, Obama, and Democrats in general have not suffered much adverse public opinion for their refusal to pass a budget. But by raising the issue's profile as part of the debt-ceiling fight...many Republicans hope that is about to change.

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Hagel Nomination Likely To Be Tough Fight For Obama

From NBC News' First Read:

Yesterday’s official rollout of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary went about as well as it could have for the Obama White House. Statements of praise for Hagel by folks like Colin Powell and Robert Gates? Check. A statement of past praise from John McCain (who said in 2006 Hagel would make a “great secretary of state”), even though McCain is now taking a skeptical look at the nominee? Check. And getting Chuck Schumer, perhaps the Democratic senator with the most reservations about Hagel, to issue a non-committal statement? Check. So the White House feels pretty good about where things stand, although this won’t be an easy fight. Yet what Team Obama can’t afford is any new negative information, any other shoe to drop. Bottom line: There is no margin for error from this point onward. Hagel’s support, at best, in the Senate is an inch deep and that “inch” would get him the votes he needs. But it wouldn’t take much for the bottom to, well, fall out. This is going to be a precarious few weeks. Very few senators are in D.C. right now, so the interest groups will be front and center. Hagel needs his confirmation hearing sooner, rather than later, but right now, it’s unclear when those hearings will be scheduled. Hagel also needs FACE time with senators, and he won’t have that opportunity for a good week or so. 

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