Rahm Emanuel Deemed Ineligible for Chicago Mayor

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) -- An Illinois appellate court has ruled that former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is not eligible to be a candidate for mayor of Chicago because he has not been a resident of the city for at least one year.

The decision reverses earlier rulings by a Cook County judge and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners that had cleared the way for Emanuel’s bid.

A campaign source tells ABC News that Emanuel will appeal the ruling.

The mayoral election is scheduled for Feb. 22.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Date Night' for Congress: Lawmakers Pair Up, or Go Stag

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- "Who are you going with?" has become the hottest question asked of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, one day before a joint session of Congress convenes for President Obama's State of the Union address.

Colorado Democratic Sen. Tom Udall's simple and largely symbolic proposal for colleagues to cross the aisle and sit side-by-side Tuesday has cast the evening as something of a "date night," with many members of Congress courting the perfect partner and some promising to go stag.

Republicans and Democrats have traditionally sat together en masse on their respective sides of the aisle. But in the wake of the Tucson, Ariz., shootings two weeks ago, many lawmakers have sought ways to project a greater sense of unity and civility before the U.S. public.

More than 50 lawmakers have so far signed on to Udall's bipartisan seating plan, and several couples announced their pairings Sunday.

House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have not yet weighed in publicly on the seating proposal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has only said that the plan should receive "serious consideration."

A recent CNN poll found more than 70 percent of Americans support mixed seating of Republicans and Democrats for the State of the Union address.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Anti-Abortion Leader Urges Supporters: ‘Time For Us to Flex’ Muscle

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A day before President Obama delivers his State of the Union address, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee dedicated to electing pro-life women to Congress, is pushing for an end to federal funding for abortion.

“It’s time for us to flex the muscle that we just flexed in this election, and do everything we can in this congress to protect those human lives,” Dannenfelser says in her first annual “State of the Unborn” address. “One thing that would be the most important thing you could do today, whether you’re at home or you’re marching wherever you are, is to contact your Member of Congress. Say ‘Please cosponsor and vote for the Chris Smith bill that would roll back all abortion funding throughout the entire federal government.’”

Dannenfelser’s speech, delivered via YouTube and released by the Susan B. Anthony List on Monday, coincides with the March for Life, marking the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Republicans in the House of Representatives recently introduced two bills to strengthen anti-abortion protections -- one would guarantee that the new health care law does not allow for taxpayer funding of the procedure and the other would ensure a permanent ban on federal subsidies for abortion.

The group’s campaign, backed by Rep. Michele Bachmann, to cut off abortion funding collected nearly 40,000 signatures.

The Susan B. Anthony List spent $11 million during the midterms and plans to be a player in the 2012 elections as well. Rep. Mike Pence, a potential GOP presidential candidate, will keynote the group’s gala next month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Giffords' Medical Team will Attend State of the Union

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Tucson medical team that treated Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head will be in Washington this week to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address.

ABC News has learned doctors Randall Friese, Michael Limole and Peter Rhee of Tucson’s University Medical Center, along with intensive care unit nurse Tracy Culbert are scheduled to attend the Tuesday speech, according to Giffords’ spokesman C.J. Karamargin.

The medical team cared for Giffords for nearly two weeks until she was transferred Friday from Arizona to Texas, where she will eventually enter a Houston rehabilitation facility.

ABC News previously reported that Daniel Hernandez, an intern who rushed to Giffords to apply pressure to her head wound and provide comfort after she was shot, will also attend the State of the Union speech.

President Obama called Hernandez a hero in a speech delivered in Tucson on January 12.

“You may deny it, but we have decided you are a hero, because you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive," Obama said.

The Congresswoman and 18 others were shot outside a Tucson supermarket during a constituent meet-and-greet on January 8.  Jared Loughner is accused of pulling the trigger, killing six people including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Spending Showdown: GOP’s Pre-Emptive Strike On Obama’s SOTU

Photo Courtesy - Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republican leaders over the weekend previewed their arguments against the spending proposals President Obama plans to outline in his State of the Union address Tuesday, warning, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did, not to hide spending proposals under the guise of “investments.”

“With all due respect to our Democratic friends, any time they want to spend, they call it investment, so I think you will hear the president talk about investing a lot Tuesday night,” McConnell of Kentucky said on Fox News Sunday.

“We've got a huge spending problem here," he added.  "We've had over $1 trillion annual deficit each of the last two years....I mean, most of us think, and most American -- of the American people think that we need to do something about this and start doing it now."

McConnell and his Republican colleagues were trying to get ahead of the president’s remarks Tuesday night in which he plans to say that the U.S. must “out-innovate,” “out-compete” and “out-educate” other countries.

"My principal focus, my number one focus, is going be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future,” Obama said in a video preview of his speech.

He also plans to make the case for the health care reform law as well as protecting education programs from the budget knife.

“We're also going to have to deal with our deficits and our debt in a responsible way,” Obama said in the preview.

But as House Republican Leader Eric Cantor cautioned in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, “Republicans are not going to vote for this increase in the debt limit unless there are serious spending cuts and reforms.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Debt Looms Large on Senators' Minds

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. and Kent Conrad, D-N.D. told ABC News they want to hear President Obama talk about solving the nation's growing debt problem when he speaks to the nation on Tuesday in his State of the Union address.

Lieberman said he wants Obama's speech to "deal with the biggest long-term threat to America's strength and our economy and that is the debt.  And I hope the President will really be hands on and say he's willing to take political risks if we are, to get America's books back in balance for the sake of our children and grandchildren."

Sen. Conrad explained why the country's debt is so difficult to address.

"The American people say: don't touch Social Security, don't touch Medicare, don't cut defense.  That's 84 percent of the federal budget.  If you can't touch 84 percent of the federal budget -- and, by the way, they also don't want to touch revenue.  You're down to 16 percent of the budget, at a time where we're borrowing forty cents of every dollar they spend," Conrad said.

"There needs to be leadership to help the American people understand how serious this problem is and that it's going to take a lot more than cutting foreign aid and taxing the rich," Conrad explained.  "You're not going to solve the issue that way."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, on the other hand, told ABC News that she was less concerned with the content of Obama's speech and more concerned with his follow-through on helping businesses.

"Will he really get his regulatory commissions to cut back on the regulations that are hurting the growth of business?  Will he agree to some changes in the Obamacare which is keeping people from hiring?  I can tell you, I'm all over my state.  That's what I hear," Hutchison said.  "They're not going to hire people if they are looking at these big fines and big expenses in the health care bill."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tucson Hero to Join First Lady at State of the Union Address

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Daniel Hernandez Jr., one of the heroes of the mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, on Jan. 8, told ABC News he will be sitting, along with his father, Daniel Hernandez Sr., with Michelle Obama at the State of the Union on Tuesday.

The address also happens to mark his 21st birthday.

"I'm both honored and excited to have the opportunity to travel to our nation's Capitol for a once in a lifetime event.  Also the chance to bring my father along for his first trip to Washington, D.C.  The State of the Union is a pivotal moment because it is our opportunity to find where we are and where we will be going as a nation in this upcoming year," Hernandez said.

Two weeks ago, Hernandez, an intern for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, rushed to her aid when Jared Loughner allegedly opened fire at one of her public events, killing six people and wounding 14 others, including Giffords.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Offers Sneak Peek at State of the Union Address

Photo Courtesy - JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The current state of the union may be best measured by one thing: a national unemployment rate of 9.4 percent. And though President Obama is still fine-tuning his State of the Union address, jobs, he says, will be one of the speech’s most dominant themes.

“My number one focus is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing,” President Obama said in a video e-mailed to Democratic supporters on Saturday, “and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future.”

The president’s address comes at a key moment, as he faces a newly-empowered Republican Party and as he begins to turn his eye toward his reelection campaign.

When he's not talking about jobs Tuesday night, the subject will be civility.

“The economy and his tone needs to be cooperation and consensus and compromise,” said political strategist and ABC News contributor Matthew Dowd. “If he does those well I think he can advance the ball to a large degree in the course of this year in what he wants to do.”

President Obama will deliver the speech before the typical cast of bipartisan congressional characters, but one thing will be very different. When he looks into the audience the president will see some Republicans sitting next to some Democrats.

“I called up Sen. [John] Thune,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., “and said ‘Would you like to sit with me during the State of the Union?’ and he said yes.”

Thune is the Republican Senator from South Dakota.

“I think it's just a measure to show that we are willing to cross party lines, to work together to solve these problems…to create jobs, to attack the tough issues,” Gillibrand said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Goes to the Web for State of the Union Policy Push

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – While President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he and White House officials will be available online all week to talk about their current initiatives.

Major networks will be carrying Tuesday night’s speech, but it will also be available online at Following the speech, those who tweet can find four different White House officials on Twitter under the handle @whitehouse and by using the hashtag #sotu. Among those answering questions Tuesday night will be Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.

On Wednesday night, outgoing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will also answer questions on Twitter. He can be reached @PressSec before his daily briefing that day, and participants are asked to use the hashtag #1Q. Gibbs will later post video responses to selected questions.

President Obama will do a live YouTube interview on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, where users can submit questions at

Also on Thursday, there will be four discussion panels focused on the economy, foreign policy, education, and health care, which will be made available online for question submission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Romney Wins New Hampshire Republican Party Straw Poll

Photo Credit - TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(CONCORD, N.H.) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took first place -- or 35 percent of the valid ballots cast -- in a presidential "straw poll" of New Hampshire Republican State Committee members sponsored by ABC News and WMUR and sanctioned by the state Republican Party.

Coming in a distant second was Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, with 11 percent, followed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who took 8 percent of the vote. In fourth place was ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 7 percent.

“This is by no means a scientific sample, but it was a good early canvass of the sentiments of the state's most active Republican voters,” said ABC News political director Amy Walter.

The "straw poll" was open to the 426 registered members of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. Sixty-five percent participated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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