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Upper Midwestern US Senators React to State of the Union Address

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Several U.S. Senators from the Upper Midwest have released official statements in reaction to President George W. Bush's seventh State of the Union Address from last night.

Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa stated he was impressed with Bush's overall leadership and his "very ambitious agenda" to make "America energy independent and less reliant on fossil fuel." Grassley also agreed with Bush's health care plan and that his focus on terrorism is "right where it should be." Grassley did intimate, however, that immigration reform needs to be a bit stronger on enforcement than Bush's plan outlined.

Grassley's Democratic counterpart, junior Senator Tom Harkin, was cautiously optimistic about Bush's energy strategy—pleased to hear "A Texas oilman say that America's energy future lies in the corn and soybean fields of Iowa and the Midwest, not the oil fields of the Middle East." Harkin cautioned, however, "This is just one example of where the rubber needs to meet the road...the President has called for increased energy security in the past. His actions, however, have not met his rhetoric." Harkin was less optimistic about the President's health care plan ("another step in the wrong direction") and his Iraq strategy ("more of the same...ignoring the generals on the ground...all the president has done has put lipstick on a pig.")

Wisconsin junior Senator Russ Feingold criticized Bush for "continuing a failed stragey for Iraq," calling on Congress use its spending powers to redeploy U.S. troops out of Iraq to fight terrorist threats elsewhere. Feingold was also not impressed with Bush's health care proposal, although he was pleased with the President's goals on energy and illegal immigration.

Minnesota senior Senator Norm Coleman did not address any of Bush's foreign policy strategies, instead lauding the President's goals of investing more in renewable energy and making health care more affordable. Coleman had qualified support for Bush's education programs, stating No Child Left Behind needed "more flexibility in the program."

Republican South Dakota Senator John Thune was pleased with the President's "bold agenda for increasing renewable energy research and production." Thune also applauded education initiatives and was cautiously optimistic about Bush's health care plan. Thune also called Bush's Iraq strategy "an important message to our troops when they need it most: Americans stand behind you and we support you as you fight to win."

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Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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