- Time Catching Up To State Legislature
- Patrick's Charter School Bill Faces Test in House
- House Democrats: GOP Shifting Deal On Texas Budget
- Waco Tea Party Says It Was Targeted By IRS
- Hundred Of Texas House Bills Dead At Least For Now
- President Obama Arrives In Austin
- Texan Files Suit Against Federal Health Reform
- Lawmakers Consider Online Domestic Violence Database
- Keeping Repeat DWI Offenders Behind Bars
- Perry Jokes About Lawmakers OKing Budget He Likes
- Plan to Expand Charter Schools Clears Senate
- GOP Plan Uses $6 Billion From Texas Rainy Day Fund
- School Voucher Bill Headed To Full Texas Senate
- Texas House Panel Debates Fetal Pain Bill
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry Makes Surprise Visit To Senate Hearing
- Budget Turns To Texas House After Passing Senate
- Texas Bills To Increase Penalty For Hit And Run Crashes
- Texas Lawmakers Asked To Give More Protection To Cell Phone Records
- Texas Legislative Committee Debates Lesser Punishment For Marijuana
- George P. Bush Formally Enters Race For Texas Land Commissioner
- Texas Senate Committee Finds Beer Compromise
- Texas Senate Consider Changes To School Testing
- UIL Private Schools Bill Advances In Texas Senate
- Gallup: Texas Sets Record For Uninsured Rate
- Jeb, George P. Bush To Speak At Dinner In Texas
- Perry Stands Firm on Rejecting Medicaid Expansion
- Texas Agriculture Commissioner Staples Publishes Border Security Book
- Texas Senate Chair Calls For Changes To Health Budget
- Families Testify At Capitol To Real Dangers Of Texting While Driving
- Texas Gov. Perry Proposes Returning Excess Taxes
- As Teachers Lobby, Civic Group Seeks Broad Reform
- Texas Tribune: Lawmaker Explorer
- 83rd Texas Legislature Begins
- New iPads For Texas Lawmakers Could Save Taxpayers Money
- President Obama In Hawaii, Fiscal Cliff Standoff Behind Him
- Congress Ushering In New Members With Old Divide
- Cruz To Be Sworn In As U.S. Senator
- George W. Bush Praises Immigrants As He Opens Immigration Conference
- House Minority Leader Pelosi, Other Women Lawmakers Find Reporter's Question Offensive
- High Court Weighs New Look At Voting Rights Law
- Schieffer: Debate Moderators Get Too Much Focus
- Recap Of Vice Presidential Debate
- Ryan Slams Biden on Libya
- Vice Presidential Candidates Take Stage In Debate Tonight
- Spain Quip Adds To Romney's Foreign Policy Trouble
- Obama Calls On Congress To Act On Tax Cut, Housing
- Officials Reject Conspiracies On Unemployment Rate
- Fact-Checking The Obama - Romney Presidential Debate
- Obama Says Romney Would Cut School Funding
- Romney Looking At Different Caps On Tax Breaks
- Obama, Romney Clash On Economy In First Debate
- First Presidential Debate Tonight
- AP Analysis: As The Race Stands, Obama Within Reach Of Second Term
- Ryan Campaigns In Miami, Biden In New Hampshire
- GOP's Ryan Courts Miami's Cuban-American Voters
- GOP Paints A Nation On Brink, Dems See Rebound
- Mitt Romney
- Reality Check: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Campaign Ad
- Romney Turns To Ohio Amid Series Of Distractions
- Romney Reaches Out To Women Before GOP Convention
- Austinites Sound Off On Record Low Congressional Approval Rating
- Romney Names Paul Ryan His No. 2
- For Two Texas Leaders, An Uncomfortable Homecoming
- Texans Cautious After Runoff Election
- Texas Tea Party Underdog Win Makes National Headlines
- Texas' Cruz Goes From Longshot To Easy Victory
- Texas Land Commissioner says he'll run for Lt. Gov. in 2014
- Texas GOP Chooses Tea Party-Backed Cruz For Senate
- Texas Runoff Election Gaining National Attention
- High Early-Vote Turnout Leaves Question Mark For Candidates
- GOP Runoff In District 25 A Scramble For Votes
- Reality Check: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Campaign Ad
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- Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst To Debate Monday
- It's Expected To Be Anything But Business As Usual In Austin For Presidential Visit
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- GOP-Controlled House Votes To Repeal Health Law
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- Two Different Parties, Two Very Different Moods
- Ted Cruz Camp: David Dewhurst Stonewalling on Debates
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- Rick Perry's David Dewhurst Nod Sparks Boos At GOP Convention
- Austin Mayor Wants To Postpone Urban Rail Bond Election
- Texas Gov. Perry Doubles Down On Dewhurst In US Senate Race
- Texas Primary Turnout Was Low, Runoff May Be Lower
- Lloyd Doggett Wins Primary Handily
- Dewhurst, Cruz Head To GOP runoff For Texas Senate
- Jana Duty Defeats John Bradley In Williamson Co. DA Race
- 2 Head To Runoff For GOP Nod To Replace Doggett
- Miller Advances To Runoff In Board Of Ed Race
- Mitt Romney Clinches GOP Nomination With Texas Win
- More Than 13M Texans Have Registered To Vote
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- May 29 Primary Election: Polling Places
- Tomorrow Is Primary Election Day
- Primary Early Voting Ends Today
- May 29 Primary Election: Early Voting Locations
- Can Undecided Voters Sway The Election?
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- KEYE TV To Survey Citizens About Election
- Dewhurst, Perry Vote In Primary Election
- Surging Hispanic Population A Growing Political Force
- Ron Paul: 'We will no longer spend resources'
- Early Voting Begins, Turnout Critical In Races
- Austin Reelects Mayor, 3 Council Members
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- Voters Go To Polls In City/School District Election Saturday
- Anita Perry Joining Ann Romney at Austin Fundraiser
- Sarah Palin Endorses Ted Cruz In Texas Senate Race
- Austin Mayoral Candidate Interview: Lee Leffingwell
- Austin Mayoral Candidate Interview: Clay DaFoe
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- Austin Mayor Candidate: Brigid Shea
- Austin Mayor Candidate: Lee Leffingwell
- Austin Mayor Candidate: Clay Dafoe
- Gov. Rick Perry Interested In Running For President Again
- Gov. Perry To Texas Lawmakers: No New Taxes, Or Increases
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- GOP Voters in Wisconsin, Maryland, DC Go To Polls
- Former President GHW Bush Backs Romney In GOP Race
- George H.W. Bush To Formally Back Mitt Romney
- Romney's Y'all Turns Into You All
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- Santorum Wins Deep South; Romney Wins Hawaii
- Voters In The South Head To Polls
- GOP Candidates Eye The South
- Super Tuesday; Super Wins For Candidates
- "Joe The Plumber" On November Ballot
- Voters Hit The Polls For Super Tuesday
- Candidates Set For Austin Mayor, Council Elections
- GOP Candidates Campaign For Super Tuesday
- Federal Court Orders May 29 Primary Date For Texas
- Minority groups: New Texas voting maps 'devastate'
- Romney Wins Arizona And Michigan
- Redistricting Maps By Saturday Or Elections In June
- Santorum Holds Austin Fundraiser
- Governor's Plan to Run Could Impede Attorney General
- Judges Want Texas Maps In Time For April Primaries
- Sports And The Texas Redistricting Battle
- Water Conservation Ideas Offered For Texas Legislature
- Perry gives tainted campaign donations to charity
- Texas Gov. Perry Blasts Obama At Conservative Conference
- Santorum wins Minnesota, Missouri GOP votes
- Democrat Gibson drops out of Texas US senate race
- Mitt Romney wins big in Florida, routing Gingrich
- Composer Sues To Stop Gingrich Use Of 'Eye Of The Tiger'
- Democrats Try Again To Break The GOP Hold On Texas
- Attorney: Texas redistricting talks have stalled
- Candidates Cool Heels While Judges Decide Redistricting
- Testimony concludes in Texas redistricting trial
- Judge skeptical of Texas redistricting aide's testimony
- President Obama speech puts him in campaign arena
- Judges move up Texas redistricting arguments
- State rep asks Gov. Perry to repay Texans for GOP primary expenses
- Court throws out judge-drawn Texas electoral maps
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry drops bid for GOP presidential nomination, endorses Gingrich
- Texas continues case for keeping district map
- Republican candidates stump hard ahead of SC primary
- Texas defends redistricting map at federal hearing
- In the super PAC era, do handshakes even matter?
- GOP pack is trying to stop Mitt Romney before it's too late
- Jon Huntsman quits presidential race
- Texas Gov. Perry appeals judge's ruling on Va. primary ballot
- Texas Sen. Cornyn to speak on 'Washington's overreach'
- Perry in South Carolina: Will It End Where It Began?
- Appeals court says Texas can enforce abortion law
President Obama speech puts him in campaign arena
Updated: Monday, February 13 2012, 09:19 AM CST
President Barack Obama, having watched his Republican adversaries pound him for weeks, got his turn Tuesday, using his State of the Union speech to land the first major counterpunch of the still-forming 2012 election.
It came before a prime-time audience of millions that the GOP candidates can only envy, even if their fiery debates are turning heads.
Obama didn't mention Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich in his third State of the Union address. But the GOP contenders were never far from mind. Obama demanded economic fairness for Americans on the same day that Romney revealed paying a relatively modest 14 percent in taxes on his $21 million in 2010 income.
"You can call this class warfare all you want," Obama said, chiding Republicans. "But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense."
Obama could not use the State of the Union's formal setting for a purely political speech, of course. But he invited a symbolically telling guest to the crowded House chamber: the secretary who works for investor Warren Buffett, a billionaire who says the U.S. tax code unwisely lets him pay a lower tax rate than his clerical staff.
Obama called his new proposal for a minimum 30 percent tax on millionaires the "Buffett rule."
It would have doubled Romney's tax bill. It also dings Gingrich, who wants to eliminate the capital gains tax. As Romney noted in Monday's GOP debate in Tampa, Fla., he would pay essentially no income taxes under Gingrich's plan.
The tax quarrel is one of the philosophical differences splitting the two parties, which have grown so hostile in Congress that it's impossible for the president to pass anything but the blandest of initiatives. Last year's showdowns over spending bills and the debt ceiling brought the government to the brink of shutdowns and triggered a credit rating downgrade.
Yet a number of lawmakers, especially those elected with tea party help, answer to constituents who detest compromise and say a federal government meltdown might not be a bad idea.
Congress' GOP leaders declared Obama's ideas dead in dismissive statements early Tuesday, hours before his speech. Obama went the through the motions anyway, pitching ideas for job training, clean energy and other topics.
These issues will play a role in the general election, once the GOP picks its nominee. But the dominant issue will be Obama's handling of jobs and the economy.
That severely limits his ability to focus on his first three years in office, except for foreign achievements such as the killing of Osama bin Laden. And it forces him to argue that he still can accomplish good things despite a bitterly gridlocked legislative branch.
Until Tuesday, the Republicans' wildly unpredictable presidential race had dominated political news, leaving Obama largely on the sidelines. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Gingrich, the former House speaker, express open disdain for the president, blaming him for nearly every lost job and foreclosed home.
Romney was particularly pointed Tuesday in Tampa, one day after a Republican debate widely seen as his best in a while.
"High unemployment and record home foreclosures," Romney said. "Debt that's too high and opportunities that are too few. This is the real state of our union. But you won't hear stories like these in President Obama's address tonight."
Obama "will make the opening argument in his campaign against a `do-nothing Congress,"' Romney said. "It's shameful for a president to use the State of the Union to divide our nation."
Actually, a "do-nothing Congress" is only one of Obama's planned campaign themes. His aides know the economy might undo him, but they also detect big vulnerabilities in the Republican candidates.
Gingrich has a long history of unorthodox ideas, combative relations with supposed allies and lucrative Washington consulting contracts, which Romney is highlighting this week.
Romney's record at the corporate-restructuring firm Bain Capital proved to be a ho-hum issue in the Republican primary. But it might trouble independent voters next fall, when Democrats would paint Romney as an uncaring plutocrat who pays low taxes and eliminates jobs with barely a thought.
The approaching campaign might emancipate Obama in a sense. The gridlocked and toxically divisive capital can be a dreary place. He may not relish another grueling year of campaigning across the country. But at least he can get away from Washington and utter a few ideas without having them immediately declared dead, foolish or worse.
Obama likes the phrase, "You campaign in poetry but govern in prose." Today's more apt rendering might be, "You campaign in Reeboks and govern in leg irons."
Running shoes surely aren't the preferred attire of any president. They'd rather use the office's power and prestige to pursue policy goals.
In Washington's poisonous atmosphere, however, running for re-election might give Obama his best chance to break free from the logjams for a while and try to recapture the enthusiasm and joy of 2008.
Romney, Gingrich or some other Republican will be waiting, eager to make him answer for a nation still trying to turn an economic corner.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)