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February 13th, 2013
12:37 PM ET

Rep. Van Hollen on Obama gun control proposals: The President's right

On Tuesday President Obama used his State of The Union address to call on politicians on both sides of the aisle to get work done and to work towards compromise on a host of issues from the economy to immigration. The most emotional moment of last night's address came when Obama asked for an up-or-down vote on gun legislation. This morning Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), a democrat from Maryland joins “Starting Point” to provide reaction to the president’s speech.

Van Hollen says when it comes to Obama’s proposals for a package of measures intended to reduce gun violence, “the president’s right.” He adds that the president’s proposals are saying, “Let’s see if you have a criminal record, let’s see if you have mental stability before you have a gun and at the very least lets have a vote on it.”

The congressman says, “If speaker Boehner and others want to vote no go ahead and do it but do it in the light of day. Don’t try and hide from the American people.”

February 13th, 2013
11:06 AM ET

Sen. Portman on the State of the Union: 'More of the same' from President Obama, common ground with Republicans is possible

This morning on "Starting Point," Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) talks with Soledad O'Brien and John Berman and weighs in on President Obama's State of the Union address.

“I was most encouraged about what he said about entitlement reform and tax reform,” Sen. Portman says. "I think as President, his role is to explain to the American people what’s really going on...Entitlement programs, as important as they are, are not sustainable in their current form."

"At one point in the speech, he said we need to reform our entitlement programs and it’s not going to be easy. And that’s what the American people need to hear from him. Folks are tired of hearing this notion that somehow everything is fine. They know the economy is not doing well,” Sen. Portman adds.

See more from the interview in the clip below.

Filed under: State of the Union
February 12th, 2013
01:06 PM ET

Virginia Gov. McDonnell: Americans want bipartisan plan from President Obama in State of the Union

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) on expectations for economic details in President Obama's State of the Union address.

Filed under: Economy • State of the Union
February 12th, 2013
09:51 AM ET

NEC director Sperling: Fixing the economy 'isn't about coming up with new fads like the Frisbee or the Hula-Hoop'

This evening, President Obama will address the joint sessions of Congress for his "State of the Union" address. Sources are telling CNN that the White House views the speech as kind of a part two to the president's tough progressive inauguration speech.

Sources also say he will pivot back to talking about the economy, talking about your money. Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the President for economic policy, joins Soledad on "Starting Point" to preview President Obama's address.

"I think this president has always believed that a strong middle class is not only our goal for economic policy, it's also how we spark the engine of further economic growth," Sperling says. "You are going to hear him talking about how we make and continue to make the United States the magnet for strong job creation. For locating jobs that pay well that help families make a middle class living and that will focus on manufacturing, focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, small business, and very importantly, what we have to do to give our young people and current workers the skills they need to fit those jobs."

Soledad reminds Sperling that President Obama has made similar promises in all of his previous State of the Union addresses, and asks what is different this time around.

"This isn't about coming up with new fads like the Frisbee or the Hula-Hoop," he says. "It's about what are the ingredients each and every year for what makes us a magnet for the strongest jobs. I don't think the American people want us to lose our focus and attention."

He adds, "Let's remember, we've gone from losing 800,000 jobs a month to having seen our private sector create 6 million jobs in the private sector over the last 35 months. So things are getting better, they are not good enough, and he will keep pushing on the economic things that matter to middle class families that strengthen the middle class, that spark our economy."

He also addresses the question of sequestration. Watch more in the video clip above.

Filed under: Economy • State of the Union • Uncategorized
February 12th, 2013
09:36 AM ET

President Obama to announce 34,000 troops to come home from Afghanistan – Jake Tapper reports


(CNN) - In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama will announce that by this time next year, 34,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will have returned home, according to sources with knowledge of the president's speech.

The move will reduce the number of U.S. forces in the country by half.

A Washington Post poll out Tuesday morning shows that 80% of registered voters support the president's policy to end the war in Afghanistan.

The White House has been considering a range of troop levels to remain in Afghanistan once the combat mission officially ends at the end of 2014, from as many as 15,000 troops to none at all.

This morning on "Starting Point," CNN's Jake Tapper breaks the news of President Obama's expected announcement in this evening's State of the Union address.

READ MORE: Obama to announce 34,000 troops to come home

Filed under: Afghanistan • State of the Union • Troops