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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  January 20, 2015 5:00pm-6:01pm PST

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tonight, the truth of the matter it's an amazing moment and the amazing moment about the state of this union. thank you so much for joining us. the state of the union address continues right now. we're standing by for president obama and his state of the union address. >> this year we expect him to say some things he's never been able to say before. >> the president of the united states states. >> he's heading back to the capitol. his popularity is up. but the new republican run congress is ready to pounce. >> since i only got two years in office, i'm kind of in a rush. >> tonight, barack obama tries to grab the nation's attention before the candidates for his job steal the spotlight. he's more determined than ever to claim credit for the economic rebound. >> we are entering into the new year with a new confidence that america is coming back.
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>> the president is on a collision course with gop leaders, only weeks after the new congress was sworn in. >>| we were taking our oath of office with the veto threat. come on. >> this is cnn's coverage of the state of the union address and the republican response from a new rising star in the party. >> we are going to make a squeal. >> the legacy agenda and future are on the line right now. >> it is you. our citizens who make the state of our union strong. >> good evening. thanks for joining us. an exciting night in the nation's capitol. the president in the white house right now soon to leave for the capitol to deliver his second to last state of the union address. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the
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world. i'm anderson cooper in washington with a special edition of "ac360." we are less than an hour away from the president's big entrance. he's prepared to tell the nation that the economy is the strongest it has been since he took office. it's been road testing his themes using the line america's resurgence is real and wolf i think we're likely to hear that phrase again tonight. >> we are, anderson. president on an upswing more americans satisfied with the economy than in years. that's boosting his popularity. the new poll shows approval rating back up to 50%. for the people who feel left out of this recovery he's outline new tax credits, other proposals to benefit the middle class and he'll propose tax increases on the wealthy to pay for all of it. he's reviving in effect that tax debate. even though he faces more opposition than ever in congress with republicans now controlling both the house and the senate for the first time in his presidency. over to jake tapper with the big
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themes we're following tonight. jake, what are you hearing? how is the president approaching tonight's speech? >> well two interesting things. one is as you mentioned, he comes to this state of the union with the economy on a huge upswing. it's the best economy since he's been president. gdp, up. unemployment down. the dow jones up. the deficit is down. he has a lot to talk about in terms of how good things are getting and as you know with all things in politics and finances it's the trends. things are going in the right direction. on the other hand wolf this is the toughest room he's faced in the state of the union. this is the first time he'll face both the house and the senate in republican control. so at the same time, he has all these things he wants to talk about that are great. he's also facing a very skeptical crowd and the fact that congress was sent here by the american people in no small part because many people don't like what president obama is doing. >> you and i, we've covered a lot of these presidential
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addresses, the state of the union addresses. what do you specifically looking for snont. >> i'm going to be looking for the areas where there might be some agreement. i think the question is right now, president obama has staked down this position a very pop ewe list progressive position on taxes. he wants to give tax credits tax cuts to the middle class. raise taxes on more affluent americans. are people in the congress are the people in that chamber, do they think this is just politics president obama doesn't want to actually get anything done or do they think president obama is just this is his first offer but behind the scenes people are negotiating, there will be tax reform. president obama's just saying what he wants but a deal can be made. that's what i'm going to be looking for. are there areas where this republican congress both chambers controlled by republicans and this democratic president can actually get something done? >> we're getting some new information from our senior white house correspondent, jim acosta from the white house. new information on the president's speech right, jim? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. the white house is sort of
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scratching its heads and the folks here are trying to figure out, what do they do about those impromptu moments you sometimes see during a state of the union address? you'll recall the you lie moment from several years ago when the president was giving the state of the union address. well something not quite the same but an unrehearsed moment may occur and we're expecting it during the state of the union speech. democratic source tells us gwen moore's office has been in touch with the white house about a plan she says that she and roughly 50 other members of congress all house members at this point plan to hold up pencils in solidarity with "charlie hebdo" newspaper magazine in france after those brutal attacks in paris, but this is not a coordinated effort with the white house, wolf. we do expect the president to talk about the attacks on "charlie hebdo" in paris, but as part of this overall emphasis on finding terrorism and rooting out violent extremism, according to our source the white house did not wave off the
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congresswoman for doing this and asked for a list of lawmakers who might do this. should be a stirring moment. >> could be very, very dramatic. stand by. we're getting more information on this. chief national correspondent, dana bash. i see you have a special guest. >> reporter: i do. few people know more about the threat of terror than dianne feinstein. senator, thank you so much. more about what jim acosta was reporting in solidarity with the people of france are members of congress going to hold up pencils? do you have a pen ready? >> i have a pen in my purse, so i'll hold it up too. >> reporter: talk about what you want to hear from the president, using the platform he has tonight with regard to the threat of terrorism to americans. >> well i think the first thing is that we're going to meet that threat. and then the way in which we're going to meet the threat which is really with cooperation of our allies. i think we really need to form a
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bigger multinational cooperative intelligence sharing, plan making mission carrying out group of allies because the middle east is deteriorateingdeteriorating. we have terrorist groups throughout north africa and there's a metastasis. >> reporter: you tweeted today, you said you believe it's possible that people in the u.s. embassy in yemen should evacuate. will they be evacuated? >> well when it comes to this, i really believe it's better to be safe than sorry. i really believe it's better not to risk the fact that yemeni troops guarding the embassy default and something bad happens to our people. >> reporter: the shadow of benghazi. >> the shadow of benghazi no question about it. >> reporter: anderson back to you. >> the president with something he's never faced before during the six years in congress. totally controlled by
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republicans. tom foreman in the virtual studio. going to be a tough crowd. >> reporter: when the president walks through those doors in less than an hour, he will be bringing some ideas that will make the opposition growl in this lion's den. he wants to talk about making college more affordable he wants to talk about helping out people in the middle class with their homes and basically all their expenses and he wants to help them with the idea of having more time off with medical needs to take care of family members or themselves. if he had the congress he started with when it was controlled by the democrats, all of that would be really in play. look at the numbers there in the house and the senate how much the democrats dominated in 2009. that was then this is now. watch those numbers change. this is the congress he's facing with the republicans remarkably in control and what that means is that all those ideas that he's trying to talk about really appear to be political show pieces. very little chance of them coming through here. maybe you can do something with executive action but the
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republicans will be pushing their ideas, expanding the keystone oil pipeline rolling back his executive action on immigration. and of course chipping away at obamacare. they may not be able to do any of that because he promised to veto and vigorously fight a lot of their initiatives, so what do we wind up with if that's really how this all plays out? the simple truth is that it goes that way in the end, we probably have three choices coming out of this continue. maybe, maybe they can figure out a way to compromise. or we get more of the gridlock that we've known or most likely everybody in here starts looking at a way to punt it off to the 2016 presidential election. we'll have to see which one of those options comes into play once the president finishes speaking tonight. anderson? >> tom, thank you very much. tom invented the virtual studio you'd think he could get himself a better seat. not a great location. chief international correspondent, john and michael smerconish. thank you for being with us. we look at the president
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unbound. this is his second to last state of the union. traditionally, the presidents used this to try to pivot a message, try to redefine themselves and what they'll do in the last two years. >> the question is with a looser president and the active president, the improving poll numbers, can he sell it? we started this progress in two parallel universes. the election where he got thumped and the success, tom just showed you, he comes in and say, let's have the middle class write for new middle class college grants and the republicans say no. we just had an election about that about you and your power but the president thinks going forward, he can divide the parties. the question isn't so much about tonight. the important part for the president tonight is to make the case of the american people not the hostile crowd in the congress. if he can sustain it anderson if the numbers keep going up will they get a deal in two weeks? no. will they get a deal in two months? no but as we get closer to 2016 and the republicans look at keeping that senate, they have to look at seats in new hampshire, seats in pennsylvania illinois several
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other states. iowa that tend to go blue in democratic presidential years so they will kick. right now, the republicans say mr. president, you forgot the election results. the question is over time can you sustain it? >> jake tapper raised this point earlier. is the president kind of an opening gambit for negotiation or is it setting up a political fight for 2016? >> i think both. i think it's absolutely both. the election he hasn't forgotten is the election of 2012. and on that election he ran on middle class economics. and he doesn't have the sort of soggy tent of the recession hanging over his head anymore. so what they're doing is this sort of post-recession pivot over at the white house, going back to the agenda that was really successful for them, talking about the middle class. and saying to the republicans, okay show us what you've got. here's what we've got. show us what you've got. and they're putting it out there. not all of it is going to be hugely popular, particularly with the wealthy in this country but that's not who the president
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is talking to this evening. he's talking to middle class families who have not seen their wages go up. he's trying to say, you know what? we have to deal with this wage inequality in this country and here's my ideas for how we're going to deal with it. okay republicans, your turn. >> we heard an awful lastot last year on the state of the union. i wonder if we hear the same thing, does that mean anything? >> i think it's obligatory. i think for the drinking games, you have to say it three times but i don't think he'll mean it. i'm looking for the body language. he doesn't look recently like a guy with tail ben between his legs. he took executive action on cuba took executive action on immigration. i think the challenge for the president, anderson is to cloak himself in the recent positive economic news and put some distance between the midterm election and where he stands now. >> cuba is definitely going to come up tonight. obviously, dream act as well. >> he hasn't acted, as michael
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said like a lame duck. when you talk to people in the administration they're saying and jay carney can talk about this more we feel a little more urgent about things coming now because we've got two years left but really one year left to try to get anything done. and by the way set the table for for 2016 for the democratic nominee. i know it's early but that's what this president is doing. >> if you look further back in history, there is some precedent. when there was money, there's more money in washington. bill clinton was able to do some with the republican congress. you give some you get some. when there was more money, romney was able to give to the democratic congress. when you give some you get some. there's not a long history of giving and getting compromising back room deals with these presidents and these republicans. we'll see with the numbers if that changes the climate in washington. >> the public is less pessimistic now and that helps every elected official when the
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public is less optimistic. say you guys we can work with you on certain things even if we're opposing you on other things. still ahead tonight, duelling special guests. how white house make statements about a hot topic and the president prepares to leave the white house, late word tonight he'll talk about one of most sensitive issues of his term. we don't know if he'd go there tonight but turns out he will. we'll talk about that.
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welcome to the special edition of "ac360." we're back in washington counting down the president's state of the union address. lawmakers are arriving at the capitol. the cameras actually get turned on inside the house chamber very soon. we'll get our first glimpse of the first lady and her special guests. there's a lot of them. at the white house, the
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president's motorcade is ready to take him on a short drive to the hill and the frienl minutes before the speech we get new insights about what the president will say tonight in the hour ahead. let's check back with senior white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, what are you hearing? >> reporter: anderson as you know the white house has been rolling out these spoilers over the last couple of weeks talking about what the president will be laying out in his speech tonight. but there's one thing that they did not tell us about in advance and that is race relations in ferguson. i talked to a democratic source briefed tonight. the president will talk about ferguson in the broader sense, he's determined to see relations improve between minority communities and law enforcement, that we're not there as a nation just yet but he is also expected to say according to this source many of our police officers around the country are doing their job and they are doing their job well. and it is worth noting that the president will have an lapd a los angeles police officer officer in the lady's box tonight. a good bet he'll point to the
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officer in the speech and the white house, we should mention, anderson, on the subject of race relations, announced earlier the president is is going to selma in march, the site of the historic march 50 years ago in 1965 that led up to the passage of the voting rights act. anderson? >> a lot to look forward to. political correspondent, van jones, national security commentator mike rogers. are you surprised he would bring up race now in this speech? >> no it doesn't. we had a lot last year in race. this year it should be healing. we're not divided on solutions as you think. we had a republican governor in ohio sign a bill saying if a police officer takes someone's life an independent outside prosecutor should come in. bipartisan support. no problem. people agree on solutions black and white on that. another set of solutions, a lot of people when they're marching they're concerned about
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overincarceration, the prison system gobbling up too many black lives. p president doesn't like that. you know who doesn't like it? rand paul chris christie newt gingrich a bunch of republicans also concerned that we've given too much power to the prison system. we're divided on the causes but united on the solutions. i hope he speaks on that tonight. >> jay carney you were in the white house with the president, how carefully does he approach the topic of race in this country? we've seen in the past a careful approach. >> he approaches it carefully because he knows when he speaks about it it's different than when past presidents spoke about it. he's the first african-american president. and he knows that he speak both to that personal experience and to african-americans around the country but that he also speak to every american. and what's also significant about barack obama speaking on race is that he speaks about it
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independently. never in my time there and i went up with him four times for state of the union addresses, did he ever consult his aids or at least listen to his aids. >> really? >> and aim to talk about these issues. he always knew what he wanted to say and he would tell us. >> was that the only issue he did that? >> well he has very firm opinions on a number of issues but this was one where there was never any question that he was going to come to the decision that he was going to come to. he would listen to us but he would often not take our advice. >> it's interesting. because he has received criticism by some of the african-american community for not discussing race enough. >> yeah. it's hard to win on the issue. and i think we've seen out of a number of leaders whether mayor of new york city the governor of new york city the governor of missouri when leaders speak on this issue, you know they lose half an audience no matter what. it's really just difficult to tread water, walk a fine line
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and say something reasonable but meaningful. and so a lot of times, you have it's a very heated topic and you have criticism coming at you. maybe you're a little more cautious than you'd like to be or maybe you're a little more aggressive than you probably should be. so it's going to be interesting tonight to see what kind of tone he strikes. is it defiant? is it aggressive? is it solemn? you know he could go either way and i'm sure he's thought very hard about it to be deliberate tonight. >> and that's one of the things. if he does talk about it there are some who would say, well he's being aggressive even by talking about it. >> and that's one of the big problems that we have here. because it's a topic that's just below the surface in so many conversations but nobody wants to give it or seen playing the race card or being a racist so it's tough to get good answers. however, i do think that the country is ready now for some solutions. you've got a lot of pain out there, you have a lot of good folks. >> we have a lot more to talk about with our panel.
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i want to go to wolf. >> anderson the president and the first lady getting ready to leave. you see the south lawn of the white house they'll be getting into their limousine to head up to capitol hill to get ready for this major address. the whole world will be watching to see what the president has to say. let's go to our chief international correspondent, dana bash. you have a special guest. >> the members are about to file into the chamber. i have a special guest, the man in charge of the very important tax writing committee on the receiving end of the tax proposals. paul ryan thank you very much mr. chairman. when the president in first day of office, unemployment at 10%. now 5.6% basically cut in half. can you give him some credit for being a good steward of the economy in that respect? >> pay cuts are shrinking. we've got a long ways to go.
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we have 2 million able bodies americans not able to work right now. people not in the workforce, add that to the jobs number and it doesn't look very good. >> reporter: when the president talks about the fact the economy is doing better? >> it is better. it is not near where we need it and the last thing you have to do is hit a big tax increase. we're told the president is going to be proposing, look the problem we have with the current economy, wages are stagnating. people aren't getting the opportunities they need. we have 45 million people living in poverty. there's a long ways to go. we shouldn't be doing some victory lap here. >> reporter: that's the kind of thing we hear from the president, about wage stagnation and really helping the middle class now. so he's actually going to propose some things that you support, expanding the earned income tax credit things like that. is there room for compromise as many. >> i want to. i want to find common ground. what i'm hoping for is less partisanship and posturing and more of a way to find common ground. there are things i think we can come together on for the good of the american people to get this economy growing and i hope he focuses on that kind of tone
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instead of picking fights with congress. he seems to be doing, i'm worried about that. >> reporter: i have to ask about mitt romney. he made pretty clear he's probably going to run again. do you think he should? >> i'm for whatever mitt decides. i think he'd make a fantastic president. i don't want to get out ahead of him because i don't know what he's going to do and i don't think he's made his mind up yet. >> >> reporter: are you going to a stay here? >> way too soon to speculate. i've got an important job in congress. zblsh appreciate it chairman. back to you. >> the president seems very confident right now. you wouldn't know that only early november the democrats, they suffered a she lacking in the house. he's moving full speed ahead on a host of issues despite the opposition from the republicans. >> well, there are democrats and supporters of the president who say that's one of the reasons they think in addition to the improving economy and the improving perception of the economy, why president obama's
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poll numbers have now gotten back to 50% and for the first time in a long time he is above water, so to speak, that he is actually doing things forcefully even if the american people disagree with them for instance polling indicating that they disagree with the executive actions taken on immigration reform. but the fact that he is taking positions and taking strong positions, the cuba policy for example, that's one the american people support. while it's not of utmost importance to most americans, it is something he's done that's strong and as we saw during the george w. bush administration if you show strong leadership in the reagan administration even if the public disagrees with something you're doing, they will reward you with admiration for the leadership. >> it's paying off in the short-term right now in these polls, but i think it's largely because the economy, at least seems to be improving. >> absolutely. >> stand by. i want to go back to anderson. anderson? >> wolf, we learn which cabinet member was tapped to stay home
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and welcome back. you're looking at a live shot there of the white house. we're closing in on president obama's big entrants for the state of the union address. we'll get to eavesdrop on his remarks as he walks through the crowd and see what kind of reception he gets with the new republican controlled congress. the president is going to leave the white house, head to the capitol just minutes from now. we're told the speech is finalized, ready to go. tonight of course for you at home can weigh in on the president's remark in realtime with our instant digital dial test. here's how it works. go to cnn.com/polls and click agree or disagree throughout the president's speech. the results will look like this with lines going up and down
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representing positive and negative reactions. republicans, democrats will show the high and low points later tonight and bring you an instant telephone poll of americans who watched the president's speech to get an instant reaction to how he did, wolf. >> anderson it's going to be fascinating to see the results of that. i want to go back to dana bash back on the statutory hall on capitol hill. the members are walking in. i know you're grabbing members as they walk in but give us the lay of the land. what's going on up there? >> reporter: i'm in what's call statuary hall a room right off the of the house floor. this is as you said the place we'll see senators gather to walk over as a body. we'll see members of the supreme court and others as they make a sort of precession over to the house chamber. one thing we got access to is the room that the president is going to come to when he gets to the capitol and waits for the
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actual speech. it's a ceremonial room in the area that the speaker, the house speaker, john boehner, controls. what's really fascinating is this is a room john boehner usually uses for dignitaries, foreign leaders when they come and visit. right now, everything has been cleared out except a desk and a chair for the president and all of his entourage, security and so forth to be there with him. that is where the president actually sits and waits before you wait for the famous speaker, the president of the united states and we all see him walk down into the house chamber. >> he'll not be walking by you. everybody else is going to be walking by you but not the president of the united states. he's got his own little entrance over there up on capitol hill. stand by dana. looking at pictures from the white house, president and first lady ready to leave the white house to make the short drive to pennsylvania avenue. jim acosta is over at the white house. hold on a second jim. i want to go back to dana.
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what do you got, dana. >> reporter: members of the supreme court come down here. we see chief justice john and sonya sotomayor. they're not wearing their robes which is not how we're used to seeing them dressed. they go in the chamber, get dressed and get attire they're usually in for the protocol for this type of address. >> how many supreme court justices have you had a chance to count how many they were? >> reporter: i only saw about six of them but i could have missed some because they started to walk by before. i should tell you the vice president and members of the senate are coming by as we speak. so hey mr. vice president. how do you feel about addressing the republicans? >> i think it's great. it's fine. >> reporter: you have members of the house, excuse me the senate and democratic republican
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leadership coming by here as well. so this is the formalities, the protocol this is the way it has been done for a very long time. and people here take pride in this. this is something that is a bipartisan thing. hi senator. that republicans and democrats in congress have done for republicans and democrats in the white house. this is certainly something that is -- how are you, senator? this is certainly something they very much enjoy something. never mind the partisan nature that's usually going on here. >> we look jake tapper, at these senators walking in. you saw kirsten gillibrand they're ready. going to their seats. sit with the democrats, republicans, sit with the republicans. usually when the president says something to the democrat they stand up and republicans sit and won't applaud. >> more people who are less inclined to give president obama standing ovations in this room than he's ever faced before
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because of the republican takeover of the house and senate. i'm also reminded wolf of the fact i saw senator marco rubio walk in there that mitch mcconnell the senate majority leader the republican leader is going to have maybe five or six people in his caucus contemplate running for president and that could really complicate even further the president and other congressional leaders, state a desire to work together. >> there's elizabeth warren walking by. those were the senators there are 100 u.s. senators. i don't know if all of them are going to be there tonight but it looks like almost all of them are certainly going to be there and then there will be 435 members of the house of representatives, those are the numbers who can actually vote. this is one of the nights that the pomp in circumstance the tradition really. >> it is quite as former congressional correspondent just to see so many people all in one place. the executive branch the legislative branch the judicial branch all together coming
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together. of course we saw some supreme court justices. others don't like to attend. >> there are six, that's a lot compared to recent years. some of them weren't necessarily anxious to go. >> well scalia hates to go. i don't think he's gone since the '80s. he hates to dignify it by going and then after president obama called out the supreme court for one of their decisions a few years ago, sam alito as well. >> you see the vice president there and mitch mcconnell the senate majority leader they're walking in. they're walking in right now. i don't know if we'll be able to hear what they're saying. let's just listen in for a second and see if we can pick up what the vice president is saying. i guess we can't. dana this is the tradition. you see the vice president, he's followed by mitch mcconnell. there's dick durbin pat trick leahy, orrin hatch. there's a tradition in the order in which they follow the vice president. let's not forget dana the vice
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president among his responsibilities he's president of the senate. >> reporter: that's right. he's president of the senate and then you have the leadership. one thing i should point out is that harry reid the democratic leader is not going to be here tonight. he had an accident exercising and under doctor's orders. they wanted him to be home but one other thing i wanted to point out is over the past four years, a new tradition has sort of surfaced. since gabbie giffords was shot shortly before the state of the union four years ago, members of congress began to not come in a partisan way and we've seen that tonight as senators have walked by me. i've seen them walk in twos. republican and democrat. the first year it was planned. everybody had a date. this year and the past couple of years, it's been more impromptu and the senators line up in the senate chamber. they kind of choose each other, republican and democrat. so, you know in these partisan times, still, it is nice to see that this tradition has carried on and it also makes it look
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less partisan when the speech is going on because it used to be kind of like a see saw, democrats stood up and applaud, and now more of a mix. >> jake there is one member of the obama cabinet who will not be in attendance. there's always one member of the cabinet for an emergency for whatever reason the designated survivor. the individual we now know who it is. >> that's right. this has been going on since the 1960s since the fear of nuclear war with russia. although they've only started to make the name of the designated survivor public since the 1980s so whoever had transportation secretary anthony fox on their designated survivor bingo, that's the designated survivor. if the absolute worst happens, anthony foxx would be present. very obscure but i suppose necessary tradition. >> they take that very very seriously. secret service takes it seriously. the national security council, the designated survivor got all
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of those codes. it's a pretty big deal. let's take a look at the live pictures. at the bottom of the screen the left part of the screen that's the white house. the exit over there. we wait for the president and the first lady to leave the white house to capitol hill. the president of the senate the vice president of the united states joe biden and speaker of the house, john boehner. they'll be sit tlg throughout the state of the union address. >> members of the cabinet come through capitol hill and on to -- >> they are there. there's the president and the first lady. >> yes, making their way to the presidential -- >> they'll be driving up. >> go down pennsylvania avenue and to capitol hill. >> nice limo he's got. >> let's go now to jim acosta our senior white house correspondent. jim, the president and the first lady are there. i suppose the president who is known for working on his speeches up until the last very possible moment has put down his
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pat. >> reporter: i've been told this speech is finalized and put in place. dana bash was talking about the secret room at the capitol. i'll see that secret room and raise it. the president was rehearsing in the mat house of the white house and this is a seven minute ride to the capital and not going to be making revisions because the speech has been in place for some time now and i'm told for the last hour or so he's really been just trying to clear his mind. that, you know he is at peace with this speech that he's going to be giving later on this evening. he is not a bill clinton, i'm told from one white house official. bill clinton was known for making those last minute edits right up until the moment he walks into the capitol and the speech is loaded in the prompter. the president is a bit more no drama obama when it comes to
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that speech jake. >> and you know it is an important point. the president worked very carefully, i'm told on this speech. he was writing it personally. he had a team of writers helping him, but he loves getting involved in the writing process and i think it's going to show when we see the final product. stand by. i want to go back to anderson right now. anderson? >> yeah jay carney from your experience what does the president do in those final hours before a speech like this? >> well after the speech is done and after he's done a run-through or two in the map room, it's over for him. he goes up to the residence, to the upper floors of the main house and spends some time with his family with his daughters and his wife and basically relaxes and gets himself mentally prepared for the big speech. then he comes down and when we head up to the capitol and into the room that dana was talking about, those moments are sort of filled with banter and joking and, you know, maybe should i
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change my tie, we would say maybe change your tie. something to keep it loose. although as has been said he's a pretty calm individual. >> he doesn't get nervous before something like this. >> i think now especially year seven of his presidency he's not anxious at all about it. he'll want to get it right. he'll know it matters. it's an opportunity he only has one more time in this presidency to speak to this many americans and lay out an agenda. so he's serious about it, but he's not tense about it. >> what's it like to be in the hall? >> there's a lot of anxiety in there. first and foremost most of the members by their local press. they're thinking already, how do i react to what the president's proposals are, number one. >> and some of them waited for hours to get an aisle seat so they can be seen. >> something i never understood but some will wait three hours. there's no assigned seats. everybody on the aisle had to wait a long time. >> isn't there more they could be doing today? >> you'd hope so. the busiest members are always
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in the back left corner. >> but that's interesting. there is anxiety in the hall because they know they're going to be called they want to be able to respond. >> absolutely. and so you'll get, some of this they'll get the speech maybe close to now. be dispersed out to the members so a lot will be busy trying to read through it. again, they'll all have responsibilities back home to comment on the proposals. the front, a lot of business is done in the front. they talk about moving packages and other things. believe it or not, when you get a senator in the room and a chairman they're likely in the room trying to grab each other's five minutes before the speech. talk about something completely different. >> we heard earlier from paul ryan who did not want to give the president any credit on the economy, do you think this president deserves credit? >> he's the president. he'll get a little bit on the economy but when you look at why, i think and it's really unfortunate, i think this was a big moment for the president he's going to swing and a miss if the way he lays this out presents itself. the middle class is in trouble which is why i think he's focused on this.
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they've lost wages. they're underemployed. they have lost actual real dollar value in their homes. it's a huge problem for the middle class and the upper class has done well and actually the lower class has actually moved up but in the middle class, they're suffering in a way and the only relief they have is these gas prices. that is what i think -- >> but that's why it's simultaneously it's impossible to simultaneously propose initiatives to help the middle class and then claim that your previous policies helped the middle class. >> jay carney, i want you to respond. >> see, here's the reality that we're dealing with. when paul ryan/romney ran for vice president and president, they promised that at the end of their first term they would bring unemployment down below 6%. it's at 5.6% under this president at the beginning of year seven. >> 90 million people. >> the economy is growing faster than it's grown since the 1990s, it's creating jobs faster than 1990s and here's the central argument i think for this
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president as we move into 2016. in the last quarter century, the economy has grown faster, deficits to be cut or eliminated eliminated it's created jobs all under democratic presidents. the opposite has been proven under republicans. >> here's the positive side if you listen to this if the president swings and misses if he might do according to you, at least he's starting the debate over what should be done for the middle class. >> but let me just tell you what i disagree with. [ talking over each other ] . >> one at a time. no one listens when he talk over each other. gloria finish. >> you're not worried about the deficit today as you have been and perhaps, the republicans and the democrats will engage and this takes you on to the 2016 stage and into 2015 about what you can do for the middle class. what you can do to reform the
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corporate tax code so that it does move the debate forward no matter what to a degree right? >> the motorcade is starting to arrive at the capitol. chairman? >> i only disagree for this sense. the president raised the debt almost a trillion dollars. so when they say cutting the deficit, they exponentially raised the deficit and now to scale back which they raised. and number two, 90 million americans have underemployed so the reason people are nervous in the economy is because they haven't been included in this mix. >> the president -- >> the largest in history. the president, it's true. and the worst economic situation. >> i want to take -- hold on. [ talking over each other ] >> i got to say something here at some point. first of all, you have a president going in there. there's a political defeat. there are economic victories here and the most important thing people need to realize is
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exactly what gloria was saying. it was deficits, deficits deficits. elizabeth warren the progressives have changed the discussion now. we talk about middle class and wages. we may have different ideas on what to do about it but it's much better for democrats to have the conversation about the middle class. [ talking over each other ] >> john? >> the question going forward is what is the climate in six months or so when can we make a deal? the president is picking a fight. certainly after the election when the republicans won big and say we'll come in and take programs ruled by washington going to anger the republicans, however, the president knows he cannot afford his base to abandon him right now. that's what happened to george w. bush and he got nothing done his last two years. tonight, he gets elizabeth warren to jump out of her seat and gets democrats to jump out of their seat. trying to keep his standing up. question is does he get to a point where republicans can't get enacted without a signature?
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and president can get his without republican votes? do they reach a point to cut a deal? >> does tonight matter? >> tonight does matter and matters for this reason. the economic metrics for the country i think have been headed in the correct direction for the last several years now whether you look at the dow, look at unemployment look at the deficit, whether you're looking at gas prices. those are the facts. if it were vice president paul ryan that we just heard interview and you asked him two years ago, would you take these numbers, in january he'd have said heck yes, i'll take these numbers but he hasn't felt it. the president said tonight is a night where we turn the page. i think he's selling us out of the funk it's okay now to feel the economic direction of the country. >> they say these proposals are not serious. these are serious proposals in the following way. he's not coming out there saying -- >> let's just listen in. >> share a point as members of the committee and the house for the president of the united states into the chamber. the gentleman from california.
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>> procedural -- >> the gentleman in washington state. >> the republicans are a real danger here. because the president is saying the welfare programs he's saying we're going to get tax cuts to middle class people and the republican is going to jump on him and say he's terrible engaging. ordinary people including the tea party have been frustrated. they call it party capitalism. 1%. they've been frustrated with the big folks. this president is actually very smart. he's stepping out and saying i'm going to protect you from all of that. the republicans are in big danger tonight. they're going to only see him in class, but not left versus right -- >> hang on. six years to implement some of his policies to help the middle class. two of which democrats had total control of both house and senate. >> and saved the stimulus bill. >> great depression right now. like two hours after to talk about this. go back to wolf. >> guys calm down over there.
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as anderson said we've got a lot of time later tonight to debate all of these issues. but right now, the president in the senate that would be the vice president of the united states joe biden and the speaker of the house, john boehner, going through some preliminary requirements announcing who is going to be doing what and where. at some point, they'll be introducing the diplomatic part and introducing members of the joint chiefs introducing the supreme court justifyces. jake they've got a whole thing to do before they introduce the president of the united states. >> this goes back decades if not centuries in terms of the traditions in the house and senate. they take some very seriously. we have athena jones our own cnn reporter inside the chamber witnessing all of this. athena tell us what you're watching. >> reporter: hi jake. there's been a lot of energy in this room. it's packed as you can see. it's calmed down a bit as they begin to go through their preliminaries but let's talk about the people who come very very early. i heard someone mention a few minutes ago, people come several
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hours early. representative elliot en gal, new york congressman, got here at 8:30 this morning. when all is said and done he'll be trying to hold a seat here for 12.5 hours before the president speaks. it's not just elliot engel, there's several others. not surprisingly mostly democrats folks like representative al greene -- >> hold on one second. i just want to tell our viewers right now, the second lady of the united states of america, dr. jill biden, has showed up. [ applause ] >> this is the diplomatic court. >> all the diplomats are invited. the diplomatic corps. >> this is a very interesting bit of information. >> yeah that's interesting if
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you're following protocol. >> when you say he's the dean elected because of his leadership skills? >> he's the longest serving ambassador in washington the m ambassador from djibouti. he's the one. >> oh now introducing the chief justices. let's watch this for a second. how many justices will actually be there tonight. there you see. kennedy there. they got some big cases on their dockets. >> stephen brier. >> in march, we'll hear arguments on obamacare. >> chief justice sonya sotomayor. you've got a nice representation
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of the night. >> of course cagen and soet mayor. i don't think they've missed one of these. >> i want our viewers to get a sense of what we'll do tonight. we have an instant dial test to measure the responses of the president's speech as it happens. i want tom foreman to join us. you're in the virtual studio. set the scene, tom. >> reporter: just as all these dignitaries are walking in you too can be there in the room with your opinion. go to cnn.com/pulse. we'll take the data when we're done and it will run through the virtual studio to give a sense of exactly how you match up to the rest of the nation independents republicans, democrats, men, women, we'll have that later on but this is how you can get involved. cnn.com/pulse. wolf? >> we see more special guests
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jake arriving in the box. there's the first lady of the united states. michelle obama. she's invited several important people to sit with her, to sit up there in the gallery together with jill biden, the second lady of the united states. there they are there in the front. >> since 1982 wolf as you know a lot of the people sitting in the first lady's box are people who are illustrating a point, or what the president and first lady believe to be deserving of special recognition. you just saw behind the first lady alan and judy gross. freed after five years of captivity. >> up there in the gallery, you can see what's going on. >> that's right. the first lady just walked in. she's very close to me. there's a guest i want to talk about with the overall theme of the president's speech tonight, middle class economics. it's the woman who's standing between michelle obama and dr. jill biden, a woman named
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rebekah erler from minneapolis. she's there to represent the fact that you can have two working parents and still be struggling in this economy. she, her husband lost his construction business during the downturn. they had to move from seattle to minneapolis. she took out student loans to go to a local community college and working now as an accountant. she was talking about the paying for needs of her family. this is the kind of person. >> you see the cabinet coming in. there's outgoing secretary of defense chuck hagel on his last few days. we also saw eric holder. >> they walk in jake. according to seniority, secretary of the treasury second. when those cabinet positions were actually created, so you see what's going on. >> tom, secretary of agriculture, the longest serving members of cabinet. most in the cabinet were not there in his first year. >> there's eric holder the
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attorney general of the united states. that's john kerry shaking hands with stephen brier, the supreme court justice. so it's an opportunity for all of these people to just schmooze a little bit as they wait the president of the united states. >> secretary kaer rierry just back from france. spoke with francois hollande earlier today about the investigation in the terrorist attacks and hollande reportedly thanked the president for sending secretary of state john kerry last week. >> yeah it's all very very carefully scripted. all of this. and once again, you see eric holder and chuck hagel, the secretary of defense and the attorney general of the united states. there's mcdunnonnacdonough. the white house chief of staff, technically cabinet as well. >> cabinet position. president also directed the
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small business administration to be small level position. >> samantha power, ambassador to the united nations and technically a member of the cabinet. so there you see them walking in right now. and it's only just starting. this is going to be a long night but it's going to be an exciting night. especially for those of us who love politics love foreign policy national security domestic policy. we'll see what we learn in the process. i don't know if there's going to be a huge surprise but we're told there might be a surprise or two in the speech. >> well we know that president obama, we have a copy of the speech and the embargo has been broken on the speech and we know if anybody is wondering what he's going to say about the state of the union, he's going to say the shadow of the crisis has passed and the state of the union is strong. so an allusion not only to the state of the union being strong but the fact not we're getting out of the crisis but it's gone. it's passed. >> they say the state of the
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union, not necessarily all that strong but tonight looking back over these six years, it's certainly a lot stronger than when he took office. a lot of us remember, everybody remembers the u.s. was in a great recession. potentially could have been in a depression and take a look at the economy right now. by no means perfect, a long way to go but certainly, so much better than it was six years. >> and looking right now, at cynthia burwell, health and human services secretary, it's interesting to think of the people who were there last year as members of the president's cabinet who are not there this year. both the health and human services secretary and the veterans administration secretary. general shinseki he of course stepped down or was asked to step down depending on your point of view after the very upsetting v.a. scandal with veterans in this country not getting the care that they deserve and now there is a new veterans administration secretary, robert mcdonald. >> we saw the president's national security advisor susan rice. she's there.
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she's a member of the cabinet, at the same time all of them are there. once again, jake remind our viewers who from the cabinet is not there tonight? >> the transportation secretary. anthony foxx is the designated survivor. the tradition dating back to the cold war when there were fears of a nuclear war with russia. i don't mean to laugh at that but it's such a quaint time. in the '80s, made the name of the designated survivor public and of course it has to be somebody who theoretically meets the constitutional requirements for president of the united states. for instance madilyn albright former secretary of state, not born in the united states she could not be the designated survivor because she could not be president. >> very interesting. there you see some of the republicans. it's going to be fascinating to see how enthusiastic they are when the president makes a statement. probably not so much. the democrats on the other hand probably very very
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enthusiastic. people will spend time counting how many times the president will be interrupted with applause. you see bob menendez over there. not very happy, he's the democratic senator from new jersey with the president's cuba policy. so this is a moment we're all waiting for. >> we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer here in washington. we're standing by to hear the president of the united states. he's up on capitol hill right now. he's getting ready to address the nation indeed the world, the state of the union address, the president will say the state of the union right now is strong. jake tapper we're watching members of congress members of the senate. they're getting ready to hear the president of the united states. this is the first time the president will be addressing the house and the senate with republicans in the majority in both chambers. >> first time this entire presidency. he has a lot of good news to share. unem