President Obama used his State of the Union address to tell Congress and the American people that fast action is needed to ensure the American dream remains. The speech touched on several themes that you'll hear throughout the 2012 election.
President Obama also targeted Congress for failing to act on important issues.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels delivered the GOP response. He blamed the problems in the economy on Mr. Obama.
The Washington Post says other Republican criticism varies in tone.
GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann appeared on Fox News to react to the State of the Union. She said she's in regular contact with the GOP candidates for president but said she's not ready to endorse anyone.
Under the Dome
The 2012 Legislative session began with everyone emphasizing common goals. Those pledges lasted roughly an hour in the Minnesota Senate. A partisan fight broke out after Senate Republicans voted on an internal Senate budget that cut 12-14 staff from the DFL minority. No Republican staff will lose their jobs.
Dayton's speech at the MN Chamber of Commerce's Annual Dinner was less confrontrational than last year's. He cracked several jokes and urged cooperation to build a better business climate.
The Legislature won't be in session today. Lawmakers will be attending the One Minnesota event at the U of M.
Gov. Dayton meets with Vikings ownership today to discuss the stadium. On Tuesday, he said the only viable option this session is to pass a stadium plan that rebuilds on the Metrodome site. He said he wants the Legislature to hold an up or down vote on the stadium this session.
Vikings owner Mark Wilf and GOP leaders won't commit support for the Metrodome site.
Charley Walters with the Pi Press says Zygi Wilf has reluctantly accepted the Metrodome site.
A Public Policy Polling survey of Minnesota finds that DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar has high approval ratings and has a clear lead over her GOP opponents.
Tidbit: One theme Republicans intend to hammer Klobuchar over is the Senate's failure to pass a budget. It's been more than 1,000 days since the Senate took such action.
The poll also found that Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty have upside down approval ratings in their home state.
Here's the full poll.
Race for President
Mitt Romney released his last two sets of tax returns and it finds that he makes more than $20 million a year. His tax rate is also less than 15 percent paid by most middle class Americans.
Romney's surrogates say Newt Gingrich has to come clean on his lobbyist record.
Ron Paul's Super PAC hits Gingrich in a new ad.(1 Comments)
With MPR's Brett Neely.
Rep.Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., announced today she's running for re-election to Congress after ending her presidential bid earlier this month. The announcement ends weeks of speculation that Bachmann might leave Congress after her term ends.
Bachmann ended her presidential bid earlier this month after a fifth place finish in the Iowa Caucus. After the defeat, there was speculation that she might leave Congress when her term ends. Bachmann told reporters today that she plans to focus on her work in the House of Representatives.
"I laid everything on the line in the last election because I saw how severe this spending crisis is in the United States," Bachmann said. "This debt crisis, it's impacting national security. I think people recognize that I'm an extremely hard worker and that I've represented their values."
When asked if she would seek a leadership position among House Republicans, she said no.
"I'm more concerned about the issues," Bachmann said. "I'm more concerned about turning the economy around and protecting the safety of the American people than I am about a leadership position."
But Bachmann does face hurdles - she's lost some key staffers, her campaign coffers are likely close to empty and a recent statewide poll suggests that Minnesota voters have developed a negative impression of her.
Another factor is what her congressional district might look like. A court panel is scheduled to release a new set of political boundaries next month as a result of the once a decade redistricting process. Bachmann currently represents the 6th District which will see significant changes because of its fast growing population.
(Listen to what Bachmann said to reporters this morning: Listen)
DFL Party Chair Ken Martin issued a statement criticizing Bachmann.
"Rep. Michele Bachmann has done absolutely nothing for the people of Minnesota's Sixth District in the last year. Since September 2011, she has missed over 90 percent of the votes in Congress.
Instead, she was flying around the country and catering to her Tea Party friends as part of her failed bid for president. The American people have overwhelmingly rejected her extreme right wing agenda, and the people of Minnesota have shown the same dissatisfaction.
It is time for Michele Bachmann to put her Tea Party initiatives aside and finally start working for the people of her district.
Recent poll numbers show a record high disapproval rating for Representative Bachmann because her right wing agenda, radical policies and extreme rhetoric are not what Americans or Minnesotans want. The poll numbers are clear, almost 60 percent of Minnesotans say Bachmann should not run for re-election."
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) issued a statement praising Bachmann for her decision to run again.
"Michele Bachmann is a powerful conservative voice in America, and I am very pleased that she has chosen to run for re-election to the House of Representatives in 2012. Michele is a dedicated public servant who will continue standing up for the Constitution and free enterprise principles on behalf of hard-working Minnesota families.
Michele understands that the greatness of America lies in the freedom and opportunity of its people - not the size of its government. I applaud her tireless fight to repeal ObamaCare and reduce the size and cost of government so that Americans can create their own prosperity. I join House Republicans in welcoming Michele's continued service in Congress and look forward to working with her in the years ahead."
Bachmann's decision brings some certainty to a Republican Party that has been speculating about her future. She could help deliver votes for state and federal candidates in 2012, since she has worked to elect them in past election cycles. She is also heavily supported by Christian conservatives and could help deliver votes for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Update: Minnesota Republican Party Chair Pat Shortridge issued this statement on Bachmann's decision:
"Congresswoman Bachmann has worked extremely hard on behalf of Republican principles for the past three terms in Congress. She continues to fight for limited, Constitutional government, personal freedom, traditional values, and a strong and secure America. We are thankful to have her on our side and confident in what she will continue to accomplish on our behalf in Washington," said MNGOP Chairman Pat Shortridge.
Public Policy Polling says former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is leading the field of Republican presidential candidates. The poll of 303 likely Caucus goers found that Gingrich has an 18 point lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The poll found that Gingrich has the support of 36 percent of those polled. Romney garnered support from 18 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 17 percent support. Texas Congressman Ron Paul received 13 percent. 15 percent of those polled said they aren't sure.
Pollster Tom Jensen says the poll is good news for Gingrich since he's winning among several groups including self-described Tea Partiers, non-Tea Partiers, self-described Republicans and independents. But he said Gingrich shouldn't get too comfortable because many of those polled are open to changing their minds.
"The race in Minnesota is incredibly fluid," Jenson wrote. "15% of voters are undecided and out of the 85% who do have a current preference, 63% say they could change their minds between now and the caucus in two weeks. That leaves almost 70% of the electorate up for grabs in the closing stretch and it seems likely that the Florida results could have a significant result on the psyche of Minnesota voters. If Romney comes back to win in the Sunshine State it could result in significant improvement in his Minnesota numbers."
You can read the full poll here.
Republican legislative leaders say this session's bonding bill won't be as big or as fast moving as DFL Governor Mark Dayton is hoping to see.
Dayton proposed a $775 million bonding bill last week for public works constriction projects throughout the state, and he asked for quick acation. He wants a passed bill on his desk to sign by the end of February, to help get unemployed builders back on the jobs as soon as possible. But Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, chair of the House Capital Investment Committee, says he's planning to take more time.
"I don't anticipate a bill being brought out of committee until about March 14," Howes said. "That will give us time to get the February forecast on February 29. We'll get a handle on what our checkbook looks like, what out debt service may or may not be, and then leadership will determine the size of the bill and then we'll go from there."
Howes says he thinks the maxiumum size for a bonding bill this year in the House is about $500 million.
The vision of a new NFL stadium didn't get much clearer after nearly three hours of talks today. The Vikings owners, Minneapolis officials, lawmakers and the governor and his staff met for the first time since Gov. Mark Dayton said the Metrodome was the only viable option for a stadium site this year.
Strangely, there didn't even seem to be consensus about that today.
"We're not ready to commit to a single site," said Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, after the meeting ended this afternoon. She also said that Ramsey County could sweeten its bid yet this week, if they could come up with an alternative to new taxes.
She also left the door open for racino and electronic pull tabs, despite Dayton's doubts about the racino option in recent days.
Dayton sounded undaunted about the Metrodome option, calling on the city of Minneapolis, the state and the team to roll up their sleeves anew.
"You know, everybody's aware that this has to move apace, and that's why the staff of the city and the Vikings and the sports facilities commission are going to be working diligently full time, all the time, around the clock, until we get this nailed down," Dayton said. "And then we'll get the principals back together again, with the goal of getting this resolved if its resolvable."
The Vikings, for their part, seemed to be getting the message. Although he offered a concilatory nod toward the team's agreement to build in Arden Hills, owner Zygi Wilf spoke encouragingly of the Metrodome site as well.
"We're still in the process of doing our due diligence," Wilf said after the meeting. "There's a lot of aspects involved, including how we would address the seasons that we would be playing at TCF. So there's a lot of questions still to be answered, but we're making progress on getting to know the site much better.''
The team owners and Ramsey County officials are scheduled to meet again in St. Paul in about an hour.