GOP Responds With Call for Limited Government
WASHINGTON - For Republicans, President Obama's first State of the Union address Wednesday was an opportunity to remind him that the political momentum is in their favor.
Republican leaders tapped Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, one of three Republicans who have scored statewide victories since Obama's 2008 election, to deliver the party's official response to the presidential address.
"The circumstances of our time demand that we reconsider and restore the proper, limited role of government at every level," McDonnell said in excerpts released before his remarks. He was set to speak before a live audience in Virginia's 318-year-old House of Delegates.
McDonnell also called for "policies that promote entrepreneurship and innovation" and urged the federal government to not "pile on more taxation, regulation and litigation that kill jobs and hurt the middle class."
The president's plans for beefing up the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and for adding charter schools as alternatives to public schools won praise from McDonnell.
He also touted technology that will help the nation transition away from a carbon-fuel economy - an Obama goal.
Elected with 59 percent of the vote two months ago, McDonnell, 55, won his post the same day Republican Chris Christie seized New Jersey's governorship. Obama won both states in 2008.
Earlier this month, Scott Brown became the first Republican senator since 1972 from traditionally Democratic Massachusetts. Brown, who has not yet been sworn in, was not on hand for the State of the Union Address.
Republicans said the election results are a signal that it's time for Obama to make a midcourse correction. Obama's emphasis on jobs represents "a welcome change in focus after the president and his administration spent nearly an entire year pursuing a partisan health care plan," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Republicans called for bipartisanship but made it plain they are not interested in a number of presidential priorities. McConnell's to-do list for the coming year did not include legislation for health, immigration or economic stimulus.
"Americans are concerned about government spending, debt, jobs, and keeping the homeland safe," he said.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, made clear before Obama's speech that he is opposed to repealing "don't ask, don't tell," the controversial policy from the Clinton administration that allows gay men and lesbians to serve in the military only if they conceal their sexual orientation. "Frankly, I think it's worked very well and we just ought to leave it alone," Boehner said.