All-Star Panel: Predictions for the State of the Union address

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 11, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: While the inaugural address contained within it very powerful lines from the president about issues like comprehensive immigration reform or the need to address climate change or gun violence. All of those issues combined got less space if you will in the inaugural address than the economy and jobs.


BAIER: And we noted that at the time. We're back with our regular panel tonight about the state of the union, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

OK, State of the Union address tomorrow night. You had the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who, by the way Charles, will be here tomorrow as our guest.  Before the State of the Union address saying that the president spent most of the first term avoiding things that Americans cared about and they hope the speech deals with something they do.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm not sure it will be a speech about ideas or programs. In fact if the inaugural address was sort of this extraordinarily ideological address, I think the State of the Union is going to be extremely aggressive and partisan.

Obama is still campaigning. He hasn't stopped. Part one was to re-win the presidency, which he did. But now he is continuing. And his idea now, his objective -- political objective now is to reduce, to fracture, to marginalize the Republicans in the House who were the ones who stopped his agenda in years three and four of his presidency and whom he has to marginalize if he wants to enact his agenda in the second term.

So I think he is going to be out there, he's going to really hammer the Republicans on the sequester, that is the automatic spending cuts, which Republicans in the House have announced they are going to allow to be enacted unless Obama offers ultimate cuts. Obama wants a hike in taxes.  He's going to be, I predict tomorrow night, extremely aggressive against Republicans on this. He will then go through the litany of all the horrible stuff that is going to happen if the sequester happens, all the food stamps taken out of the mouth of babes, because the Republicans are protecting the oil companies, the corporate jet owners and the rich, et cetera, the usual suspects. I bet ya it's going to be the heart of the speech and it's all to be able to beat back Republicans so he can take control of Washington.

BAIER: A.B., usually State of the Union speeches are not necessarily newsworthy. They are shopping lists, they are laundry lists of things they want to get done and policies they want to get through. To have leaked this week two days before, a day before, that it's going to be aggressive in tone and tenor, that was a little strange, wasn't it?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Charles might be right how aggressive he is and how partisan it sounds and how ill received it ultimately is. But I think what is interesting about this one is that in many ways it's the most consequential State of the Union address of his presidency because he's free from the constraints of electoral politics.

On the other hand, it's probably his last address of significance because his window to influence the debate, build a legacy, and try to actually pass his very ambitious agenda closes at the end of this year when both parties focus on the mid-term election in '14 and the presidential election in 2016.

So his hours are few. And the distance unfortunately, from what he will talk about very emotionally tomorrow night, much on gun control, the guests in the audience, all of that, the distance from that to the actual legislative reality of what he can pass is so enormous that in many ways it's kind of a waste of time. He has to come to the center on getting us out of the fiscal hole in order to get gun control or immigration reform passed. And until and unless he does he has no agenda.

BAIER: But my point is there is no indication by what the administration officials are pointing out, Steve, like quoting from a Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, saying, quote, "Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across" to a Politico story, that does not sound like there is a bipartisan tone to it. And for Democrats in moderate red states – or moderate Democrats in red states up for re-election in 2014, you know, are they comfortable with that scenario?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I would argue the news would have been if the president came out and actually was moderate or centrist or offered anything to Republicans. This is who the president is.  It may not be who he was when he gave a speech in 2004 or when he campaigned in 2008. He is an aggressive partisan now. That is the way that this president operates on virtually everything and has been for the past several years.

I do think that the people that you are pointing to, these moderate red state Democrats; particularly, in the Senate, who could be vulnerable in two years, are going to be the ones shifting in their chairs uncomfortably as the president walks down this not only the litany of things that he wants but as he levels what will surely be a harsh and I would argue over-the-top indictment of Republicans.

KRAUTHAMMER: If he had such high left inaugural his objective here is to change the agenda. Normally a second term president, as A.B. says, has power in the first year and then he's weakened in the last two years. He sees it differently. He doesn't have the House now. He has to fracture them now, win the House in 2014, and then he can enact his agenda in the last two years. That is why he will be extremely hard on the Republicans.

BAIER: OK, thank you, panel.  A bonus for you tonight. Karl Rove and Joe Trippi online if you go check it out on the website. We have a whole huge video clip with Karl and Joe. Stay tuned to see what not to do when anchoring a newscast.

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