Program Note: Don't miss analysis by David Gergen and special coverage of the State of the Union Address tonight on CNN starting at 8 p.m. ET.
David Gergen | BIO
CNN Senior Political Analyst
How often we have watched Barack Obama facing “the most important speech of his life” – Philadelphia, the Inaugural, Cairo, Afghanistan, etc., etc. Almost always he has risen to the occasion. But tonight’s State of the Union could require even more magic: for the first time he is delivering a message that looks virtually dead on arrival.
The past few days leading up to this speech have made clear that on his signature issues, the President is in deepening trouble:
Health Reform: Democratic leaders yesterday all but pronounced final rites over the mammoth health bill that has preoccupied Washington in recent months. The leaders said they wanted to postpone the fight for another day but everyone knows that with November elections looming, delay probably means death for universal coverage.
Cap and Trade: Legislative leaders have also made clear this week that prospects for a major cap and trade bill are finished for the year – another signature issue for Obama. Congress may pass some kind of energy bill but it will signal to the world that the U.S. isn’t yet on track to serious carbon reductions – and that in turn will place in further jeopardy the world-wide effort (China meanwhile has signaled that it may not even buy into the science of global warming.)
President Obama delivers his first State of the Union (SOTU) Address tonight. It is the 221st annual presidential message in the nation’s history. His chief political adviser says the president will focus on job creation, the economy and fiscal responsibility. The live blog will stay up during Obama's address and throughout our coverage until 12 a.m.
Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's address, the GOP response and the reaction from our analysts. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.
Here are some of them:
1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
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Tonight, President Obama will give the State of the Union Address. Or you may prefer to call it a message on the state of the economy.
After all, Pres. Obama is expected to devote much of his speech to America's financial recovery. Aides say he will focus his address on job creation, battling the deficit, helping the middle class and health care reform.
But he won't be able to accomplish those goals without some help from Republicans. That's why you'll likely hear another message tonight.
"The president will challenge each party to work together, because we can't afford not to. Every day is not election day in America even if it is in Washington, DC. We have to stop deciding that our politics is about one person wins and one person loses, it's the American people whose problems we have to address," Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary, told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux today.
Is the White House taking that route itself?
The House Minority Leader, John Boehner, R-Ohio, says he has had "zero" private discussions with the president or his top aides.
"I have not talked to Rahm Emanuel in a year," Boehner said of the president's chief of staff, a former House member. "It's really shocking... There's just no interaction."
Do you think the Democrats and GOP can work together? Sound off below.
Our special coverage of the State of the Union Address begins at 8 p.m. ET.
We'll also bring you the Republican response, which will be delivered by the new Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell
See you then!
CNN Financial News Producer
Lot’s of ground to cover today: a massive car and truck recall, the latest must-have gadget, a Fed meeting, and what is arguably the most important address of President Obama’s short time in office. So let’s take it all I order of occurrence.
First up, Toyota said late Tuesday it is asking dealers to suspend sales of eight models, and is halting production of those models, after a recall to correct a problem that could cause the gas pedal to stick.
About 2.3 million vehicles will be affected by the recall. That's about 500,000 more vehicles than Toyota sold in all of 2009.
In issuing the recall, the automaker said it had not yet found a way to fix the problem, but wanted owners to be aware of the potential issue.
The recall affects Toyota's 2009-2010 RAV4, Corolla and Matrix; 2005-2010 Avalon; certain 2007-2010 Camrys; 2010 Highlander; 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia (click here for what to do if your car is on the list).
Toyota owners with questions should call Toyota's customer service line at 800-331-4331.
Giving a transformational presidential speech while trapped in politically toxic quicksand is no easy task. And as he mounts the rostrum in the House of Representatives' chamber Wednesday night, the forces arrayed against Barack Obama — both real and those conjured by the politico-media maelstrom — are fierce.
Liberals (in the blogosphere, at the grassroots, and in Congress) complain that the President is a spineless, incompetent quitter. Conservatives (on Fox News Channel and talk radio, at Tea Party confabs, and in Congress) insist he is a panicky, on-the-run liberal. The Old Media sputters that he is a flailing, directionless Jimmy Carter redux.
In just over a year, Obama has gone from a hopemonger destined to change America and revitalize the Democratic Party to a foundering President — from a man determined to bring America's best values to a capital gone bad to a man who has reinforced everything the country hates about government and politics.
Special to AC360°
More than two weeks ago my husband (David Hames) was trapped in the lobby at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince. My heart aches terribly as the days go by, but my faith tells me anything is possible — including that David is alive.
David was last seen about 20 feet from the elevator shaft where Dan Woolley was rescued, and two days ago they recovered the tripod he had been carrying when the earthquake began. The tripod is dusty but not broken.
Along with his tripod, we know David was carrying his backpack, and his pack probably had water and granola bars inside. We also know the rescue teams are still finding voids in the hotel. The ground opened up around Dan and David at the time of the quake, but even though they’ve rescued Dan and found David’s tripod, we still don’t know where my husband is. My hope and prayer is that he is in one of these pockets in the basement, using his resources to survive.
Randi Kaye | BIO
A state senator from Ohio says his state is spending $1 million on road signs to advertise the use of stimulus money for road projects. In other words, the state is using your money to tell you it's spending your money.
State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Ohio, calls it a waste of taxpayer dollars. The road signs he's concerned about display words such as "Project Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" Some road projects have two signs, and some don't have any at all, but the signs aren't cheap.
The bigger signs can cost as much as $3,000 each, according to Grendell, who says this is just a big "thank you" to the Obama Administration.
CNN National Desk
Blind violinist Romel Joseph laid in what he called his "grave" for 18 hours.
The concrete support beams of his music school in Haiti pinned his legs and feet. Buried in the rubble of the five-story building, Romel realized he was trapped and would not be able to get out on his own.
He was overwhelmed by the hot air. He began to have a conversation with God.
John D. Sutter
Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday unveiled the iPad, a tablet computer that he called "a truly magical and revolutionary product."
"What this device does is extraordinary," Jobs said. "It's the best browsing experience you've ever had. Way better than a laptop. Way better than a smartphone."
The tablet will act as a sort of missing link between a smartphone and laptop. The model Jobs demonstrated at an invitation-only event in San Francisco operated without a hardware keyboard, with Jobs typing on its glass screen.
It has a nearly 10-inch screen, runs existing apps from the Apple apps store and is available in 16-gigabyte and 64-gigabyte versions, according to Jobs.