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« Biden's Office Disputes Report On Son's Campaign | Blog Home Page | Beau Biden Won't Run For Senate »

The Week Ahead: State Of The Presidency

Championship Sunday in the NFL gives way to a very busy week in the world of politics. Congratulations to the AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts and the NFC Champion New Orleans Saints, who will face off in Miami in Super Bowl XLIV. Hard not to root for the Saints, whose first-ever Super Bowl appearance comes less than five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans.

** White House: The main event in Washington is on Wednesday, when President Obama delivers his first official State of the Union address. It's actually his third address to a joint session of Congress; a year ago he delivered a "budget address," and then a September speech on health care. Obama hunkered down at the White House this weekend working on drafts.

We always tend to say these are critical moments, but in the wake of the Massachusetts Senate result and with health care in the balance, it's safe to say this is. The White House is clearly feeling the heat, as shown by the announcement this weekend that David Plouffe, campaign manager of Obama's successful 2008 campaign, is taking a more formal role in the White House's political operation. In Sunday's Washington Post he wrote: "If Democrats will show the country we can lead when it's hard, we may not have perfect election results, but November will be nothing like the nightmare that talking heads have forecast."

Obama starts the week with a meeting with the Middle Class Task Force today. The hoopster-in-chief will also meet with the NBA Champion Lakers this afternoon. After Wednesday's address, the president and vice president will have a rare joint event outside Washington, in the key swing state of Florida. Friday, Obama will head to Baltimore to join Republicans at their issues conference.

** Capitol Hill:: The House will only be in session two days this week, with Monday off and Republicans holding their issues conference Thursday and Friday. The Senate this week will continue work on raising the debt limit, and also is expected to vote on the confirmation of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who's four-year term is up at the end of the week. Both chambers will, of course, welcome the president on Wednesday evening.

** Politics:: Another busy week in politics. The RNC is meeting in Obama's home state of Hawaii starting today, where Michael Steele's leadership will be a hotly-debated topic. On Thursday, the House GOP's Issues Retreat kicks off in Baltimore, with the title of "Winning Back America." There will be considerable focus Obama's visit on Friday, but former House Majority Leader Dick Armey also gives a keynote on Thursday. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who delivers the GOP response to Obama's State of the Union address, will also speak at this retreat.

Democrats are reeling with yet another retirement, this time Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry. It's the first such retirement since Brown's victory. Another potential sign of Democrats' midterm anxiety is in Delaware, where some in the party fret that Beau Biden may not seek his father's old Senate seat as expected. A Wilmington News Journal report quoted Joe Biden as saying he thought his son would not make the race, but the VP's office said the author misquoted him.

And don't look now, but there's another election on the horizon. This is the final week of campaigning in Illinois, where voters head to the polls to choose nominees for the Senate and gubernatorial races on February 2. A Chicago Tribune poll out Sunday showed Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk leading in the Senate primaries.

** Poll Watch:
Obama Job Performance: Approve 49.6 / Disapprove 44.9 (+4.7)
Congress Job Performance: Approve 26.0 / Disapprove 66.2 (-40.2)
Generic Ballot Test: Republicans +2.5

** In Case You Missed It: Is this the first time someone has ever used, "I'm giving the State of the Union address this week" as an excuse to get out of jury duty? AP reports that President Obama received a summons at his Chicago home to appear at a suburban courthouse Monday. "A White House official said Sunday that the president has alerted the court he won't be able to make it," the report says.

--Kyle Trygstad and Mike Memoli