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January 22nd, 2012
04:53 AM ET

State of the Union Early Bird for January 22, 2012

(CNN)-It's early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the morning headlines to go with your cup of coffee.

On our radar:  With Newt Gingrich's critical win in South Carolina, we look forward to the Florida primary and President Obama's State of the Union address.

Check out what we're reading, and be sure to watch our interviews with presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum today at 9am/12pm ET.


CNN Exit Poll Data


Republican Convention Has '50-50' Chance Of Being Open: Former GOP Chair

Michael Steele, the former Republican national chairman who oversaw the writing of the party's nominating rules in 2010, told The Huffington Post Saturday night that the chances of an open - that is, undecided - GOP convention in Florida next August are now "50-50" after Newt Gingrich's victory in South Carolina.

"It's a real possibility," Steele told HuffPost. "Right now I'd say it's 50-50. The base wants its chance to have their say. They aren't going to want it to end early, before they get their chance, which means that the process could go all the way to Tampa."

Jeb Bush Refrains From Endorsing Anyone

Jeb Bush, the popular former Florida governor, said he will “stay neutral” in the state’s Republican presidential primary while warning his party’s candidates to leave the “circular firing squad” of their debates behind and start appealing to a broader audience.

In Florida, cash-flush Romney has been all but unopposed

Other early-voting states were flooded in advance with nonstop campaign ads, but Romney has had Florida's airwaves to himself. The simple reason: It costs about $2 million a week to advertise across the state's 10 major media markets.

Analysis: Romney Damaged, but Has Edge Heading to Florida

Beyond his organization, Romney has other advantages in the February contests. As a presidential candidate in 2008, he won Nevada easily with more than 50 percent of the vote. He grew up in Michigan, where his father, George, was a governor and auto executive. Four of the states – Nevada, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota – are caucus states where get-out-the-vote campaign organizations can be critical.

"Momentum and excitement only take you so far," said Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

"Gingrich's biggest challenge going forward is his record, but he also has an organizational challenge in that he has not put together a national campaign," he said.

Santorum, Optimistic, Plans Effort Nationwide

“Our campaign is small, and no state is a make-or-break state for us,” said John Brabender, Mr. Santorum’s top media strategist.

“We are very frugal,” he added. “We can go on endlessly.


Obama to Draw an Economic Line in State of the Union

Mr. Obama’s third State of the Union address is widely seen in parallel with the one delivered in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. Mr. Clinton likewise was seeking re-election, after voters in the midterm elections had put Republicans in power in Congress as a rebuke to his perceived big-government liberalism.

But Mr. Clinton sought to co-opt Republicans’ small-government message; his State of the Union line “the era of big government is over” is among the most memorable of his presidency. Mr. Obama is confronting them instead, and framing the election-year debate in a way that aides say will challenge Republicans’ support for unfettered American markets and “you’re-on-your-own economics,” as he put it in December in Osawatomie, Kan., in a speech that was a prelude for Tuesday’s address.

CRS report: Congress can require Keystone oil pipeline approval

Capitol Hill lawmakers probably have the Constitution at their back if they require a permit for the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline that President Obama rejected days ago, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Republicans are mulling bills that require approval of Keystone XL, which would bring oil sands crude from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries.


How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work

Economic Growth in U.S. Probably Accelerated for a Third Straight Quarter

The U.S. economy probably accelerated in the final three months of 2011 as Americans boosted spending and companies rebuilt inventories, economists said before a report this week.

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced, rose at a 3 percent annual rate after advancing 1.8 percent in the previous quarter, according to the median forecast of 64 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before the Commerce Department’s Jan. 27 release.

Thanks for reading!

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