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More of the same: Obama promises to stay on offense against GOP

This Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 photo shows President Barack Obama on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.

This Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 photo shows President Barack Obama on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• More of the same: Obama promises to stay on offense against GOP
• Mitt gets ready for takeoff
• Draft Warren effort ramps up in Iowa
• Power Play: Fast track trade breakdown?
• Cheese outlaws

We are told that President Obama promised his fellow Democrats in the Senate, who huddled this week in Baltimore to contemplate life in the minority, that he is “going to play offense” against the Republican-controlled Congress. This is hardly surprising, given that his response to every political setback in his presidency has been to escalate his conflict with his political rivals. Remember that this is a president who, even when he was riding high at the start of his term, has made it a priority to break and remake the Republican Party, opponents his top communications adviser said were not “worthy” of the moment. At every inflection point, Obama has sought to change his opponents, but shown little interest in changing how he, his administration or his party operates. This effort promises to be as much of a failure as all of the prior tries.

Consider this: What would motivate a person to release from a prison camp Yemeni Islamist militants – battle hardened veterans – at the very moment the world is coming to grips with an audacious raid by Yemeni Islamist militants? Surely the president did not mean to further antagonize grieving allies. And surely he did not intend to further frighten an American public that our polls show to be deeply worried about Islamist raids and deeply skeptical of his commitment to the cause of stopping them. And now we see that terrorism has risen to the top of the stack of public concerns.

It seems more likely his intention was to send a message to Republicans in Congress who stated more clearly their goal to prevent the president from closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Much as we saw in summer of 2014 when the president continued to try to downplay the threat from ISIS, one suspects that public outrage will force a course correction for this administration soon as Democrats in Congress feel the heat from their own constituents. As the president tries to keep America focused on his agenda, Americans will be demanding that he focus on theirs.

Obama to seek 7 percent spending hike - Bloomberg: “President Barack Obama will ask Congress for as much as $68 billion more than current budget limits in fiscal 2016, according to two people familiar with the administration’s proposal. The request sets up a fight with the Republican-led House and Senate over whether to reverse part of the spending limits that the U.S. Congress and the White House agreed to in fiscal deals earlier this decade.”

[‘We need to close the revolving door…’ - WashEx: “Former Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling has joined the investment firm PIMCO as an economic policy adviser…”]

Fox News Sunday - The Shannon Bream fills in for Chris Wallace this week, hosting Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a discussion of cyber terrorism and cybersecurity. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.

Have you ever read Skip Gatesvery brief memoir of growing up segregated Mineral County, W.Va.? A lot of junk will be foisted upon readers today and this weekend as editors and writers use the Martin Luther King holiday as an excuse to commit unbecoming acts journalism. Given the fact that a movie about the Civil Rights movement is in theaters and that we are still in the shadow of another failed effort at a “national discussion” on race, you can brace yourself for a torrent of treacle and overstuffed sentiment. That’s not to say that there won’t be good, important things to read and see, it’s just that you will have to look closely to find them. But if you’d like to start with a fish in your creel, read Gates’ recollection of how things were to his eyes at the time. It is sometimes bracing, sometimes warm and funny and, most importantly, seemingly honest: “Civil rights took us all by surprise. Every night we’d wait until the news to see what ‘Dr. King and dem’ were doing. It was like watching the Olympics or the World Series when somebody colored was on. In 1957, when I was in second grade, black children integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. We watched it on TV. All of us watched it. I don’t mean Mama and Daddy and Rocky. I mean all the colored people in America watched it, together, with one set of eyes.”

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 44.4 percent//Disapprove – 50.3 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.5 percent//Wrong Track – 62.2 percent

Like a fighter pilot poised for takeoff, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, will be on flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Midway in San Diego today. There, he will make his first public address since he let it be known that he is considering a third run for the presidency. The venue for Romney’s remarks at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting seems appropriate since his intentions catapulted the Republican 2016 contest into a new frenzy. Nerves are trigger-tight since the reaction to Romney has been decidedly mixed.

[Byron York asks in this WashEx op-ed “Was Romney 2016 Mitt-mania a flash in the pan?”]

What’s the flight plan? - WSJ: “As Republican Party leaders gather to plot their path back to the White House, their reactions to the prospect of a third campaign by Mitt Romney range from curiosity to deep skepticism…. [M]any GOP officials have the same question for him: How would it be different this time?…Mr. Romney’s loss led to a sweeping review of the 2012 campaign by the RNC, which recommended a top-to-bottom makeover in the party’s messaging, collection of voter data and outreach to women and minorities…Several RNC members at this week’s meeting said the party has made progress in addressing those concerns. They said Mr. Romney needs to offer his own prescriptions if he runs again…Other GOP leaders said younger candidates or those new to the national stage may be better suited to be the standard-bearer of a party trying to freshen its image.”

Perry eyes the 2016 horizon - Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas who delivered a very 2016 contender-ish bi-partisan themed farewell speech to the state legislature Thursday, is slated to speak at the RNC winter meeting’s luncheon in San Diego today.

Going to the candidates’ debate? - With today the final day of the Republican National Committee winter meeting, party watchers are all ears in anticipation the RNC will release its 2016 GOP presidential debate schedule. Word is: fewer and more geographically dispersed debates than in 2012.

[Watch Fox – Campaign Carl Cameron is on hand in San Diego for all the speeches and party announcements as the RNC winter meeting draws to a close.]

Mitt drafts former Christie staffer - Colin Reed, who was deputy communications director for potential 2016 rival Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and most recently Scott Brown’s [R] campaign manager in his N.H. Senate bid, is going to work for Romney as a media liaison on a “voluntary basis,” The Hill reports. Reed is one of several former Christie staffers who took on jobs in key presidential battleground states as the New Jersey governor sought to make inroads with local establishment party members.

[Flashback: Code name ‘Pufferfish’ - The stark contrast in style and appearance between Romney and Christie was underlined in a book account of 2012 Republican nominee’s campaign designation of Christie as “Pufferfish.”]

Jeb fishing in Christie’s donor pool - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been courting a group of top-tier Garden State Republican donors, activists and officials right in N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s own back yard. North Jersey Record: “Bush met with about 15 New Jersey Republicans, some of whom backed Christie’s two campaigns for governor, in a private, sit-down dinner at the Union League Club in midtown Manhattan on Jan. 8, according to three people who attended the dinner. The event, hosted by Lawrence E. Bathgate, a prominent Ocean County attorney who served as the Republican National Committee’s finance chairman under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, was a meet-and-greet session, a chance to hear Bush, Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007, discuss his vision and plans for a pending run for his party’s presidential nomination.”

Top Bushie to host Christie at meet and greet lunch - WSJ: “A major Republican donor with close ties to the Bush family is holding an event next week for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the first gathering she has convened in the run-up to the 2016 presidential contest. Bobbie Kilberg, a highly-sought GOP donor who has served in the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, is holding the luncheon next Tuesday in Virginia for Mr. Christie, a potential Republican presidential candidate.”

[Today former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., is in Indian Wells, California for 2 Right to Rise superPAC fundraisers & an evening leadership PAC event.]

Chillax - WSJ: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he still hasn’t made a decision on whether to run for president in 2016, but he is speaking more openly about the possibility. During his monthly radio program Thursday night, Mr. Christie made some of the most forthright comments yet about a possible bid, referring to conversations with ‘potential donors,’ supporters and staff. He’s told them to ‘relax’ about a 2016 announcement, the Republican said…”

[Christie is expected to be in attendance at the inauguration ceremonies today for Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa.]

WaPo: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker laid out a clear rationale for his prospective presidential candidacy and drew a sharp contrast with Hillary Rodham Clinton here Thursday night, saying the country needs new leaders with fresh ideas from outside of Washington…‘We took the power out of the hands of the big government special interests and put it in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers, and they [his opponents] didn’t like it,’ Walker said. “They were worried if we won, it would catch on. And I hope it will.” In a dinner speech to the Republican National Committee, Walker touted his record in Wisconsin and that of other Republican governors around the country as the GOP’s model for the 2016 presidential campaign. And just 24 hours before Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, was due in San Diego to make his first public remarks since declaring his serious interest in a 2016 run, Walker argued that Republicans need ‘a new, fresh leader.’”

“Congrats to @joniernst chosen to give #GOP response to #SOTU. You will do great. Only advice is have plenty of water BEFORE not during!” –Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in an Instagram post
Daily Caller: “Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is expected to announce soon that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for the White House as a Republican in 2016, The Daily Caller has learned.”

Daily Caller: “As Islamic terrorists launch attacks across the globe, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal plans to call on Muslim leaders to publicly condemn these ‘acts of barbarism,’ declaring: ‘Let’s be honest here, Islam has a problem. If Islam does not support what is happening in the name of Islam, then they need to stand up and stop it,’ Jindal says in prepared remarks released by his office ahead of his Monday speech in London. ‘Many Islamic leaders argue that these are the acts of a radical few.’ ‘I will warn you in advance that I’m going to say some things that are not politically correct, so brace yourselves,’ Jindal, a potential Republican candidate for president, will say at the Henry Jackson Society on Monday.”

#mediabuzz - Host Howard Kurtz will continue to have some of the best coverage of the media response to the attack by Islamist militants on Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo, but you also don’t want to miss what promises to be a spicy and smart discussion about the political press as The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich and Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio will look at the negative media feedback surrounding Mitt Romney moving toward a 2016 candidacy. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.

[Listen to Fox - Fox News Radio’s Jason Bonewald looks at the winners and losers of the week in the race for 2016 in the Balance of Power podcast.]

In an expansion of the Run Warren Run effort in Iowa, Political Action is announcing the hiring of Blair Lawton, a 2012 Obama re-election field director, as the campaign’s Iowa field director. The group is also announcing the opening of a campaign office in Des Moines and four additional field directors, Adam Beaves and Margaret Jarosz, both 2012 Obama re-election veterans, as well as Susana Cervantes and Beth Farvour.

Power Play: Fast track trade headed for breakdown lane? - Michigan Democrat, Rep. Debbie Dingell, tells Power Play host Chris Stirewalt about why she opposes President Obama’s call for a fast-track Asia trade deal. The freshman congresswoman, who represents the heart of America’s auto industry, says the plan is unfair to U.S. workers. But for liberal Democrats far beyond Michigan, the issue has become a flashpoint for a growing fight over free trade. WATCH HERE.

Elizabeth Warren, ‘lunar goddess of liberal politics’ pulls party to left – Time : “Elizabeth Warren, the famously anti–Wall Street Senator from Massachusetts, has become the lunar goddess of liberal politics. Just as the moon pulls the tides, Warren is slowly but steadily towing the economic conversation in the Democratic Party to the left.”

Gee, that sounds fun - “It’s always healthy to have a challenge in a political primary and in a general election. But I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think the Democratic Party is locked in behind [Hillary Clinton.]” --

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., on “Your World with Neil Cavuto”

One-woman show - Watch Fox: Senior National Correspondent John Roberts examines the possibility that Hillary Clinton will face little Democratic opposition and how she would hold up against the eventual GOP candidate who will have survived the ringer of primaries and debates to get the nomination.

[Jennifer Rubin from WaPo offers this op-ed, “Hillary Clinton and the Perils of No Opposition.]

Gov. Doug Ducey, R-Ariz., signed the American Civics Act making Arizona the first state to require high school students to pass 60 out of 100 questions on the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization civics test. The Arizona Republic reports that the class of 2017 will be the first group impacted by the new law. Students can start taking the test in eighth grade and are allowed to continue retaking it until they pass. The test is the same one immigrants take when seeking citizenship.

Ahead of Sunday’s playoff game between Green Bay and Seattle Reuters reports that a devoted Seahawks fan and Bainbridge Island City Manager Douglas Schulze has issued an executive order banning the possession and consumption of cheese in City Hall. The order, 121212, named after the “12th man” fan base states that, “Due to the relationship between the Green Bay Packers, their fans, and cheese, the possession of and/or consumption of cheese or cheese flavored products shall be banned in Bainbridge Island City Hall on Friday, January 16, 2015.” Schulze also criticizes the “obnoxious wedge-shaped foam hats painted yellow” that devoted Packers fans wear in support of their team. The order does allow Bainbridge city employees to wear Seahawks jerseys and team colors to work and encourages tailgates at lunch hour. “This is purely just for fun and camaraderie and to bring together our staff,” said city spokeswoman Kellie Stickney. “No fines or cheese-related strip searches.”

“These people are inspired and are recruited by their objections to our way of life and the fact that we defend our way of life around the world and they believe in Islamist supremacism.” —Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.