THE BIG IDEA:

If Joe Biden had run for president, tonight’s State of the Union would be more fun to watch. Three weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, Americans would be closely studying the vice president as he sat behind Barack Obama. It would be quite the split screen, with Bernie Sanders in the chamber and Hillary Clinton on the trail.

But Biden chose not to run, relegating him to the sidelines.

That, however, does not mean the 73-year-old is a non-factor.

The VP showed during an interview on CNN last night that he can still disrupt a news cycle whenever he wants – and he can cause trouble for Clinton as she tries to consolidate the Democratic establishment behind her.

Biden defended Sanders on guns after days of sustained attacks from the Clinton campaign, and he implicitly criticized Clinton as less authentically concerned about economic inequality.

“Bernie is speaking to a yearning that is deep and real, and he has credibility on it,” he said. “And that is the absolute enormous concentration of wealth in a small group of people with the [middle class] being left out.”

When CNN’s Gloria Borger said Clinton is talking about the same issues, Biden shot back: “But it’s relatively new for Hillary to talk about that. Hillary’s focus has been other things up to now, and that’s been Bernie’s. No one questions Bernie’s authenticity on those issues.”

Last week, doing local TV interviews to promote the president’s executive action on guns, a Connecticut NBC affiliate asked Biden if he ever second guesses his decision not to jump into the race.

“I regret it every day,” he responded, “but it was the right decision for my family and for me.” He added that he plans “on staying deeply involved.”

On CNN, he revealed that Obama offered him financial help so that he would not need to sell his home in Delaware if Beau Biden had quit his job to receive treatment for brain cancer. (Beau died on May 30 at 46.)

And Biden added that he’s not surprised the Democratic contest is competitive. “I never thought she was a prohibitive favorite,” the vice president said.

“One of the purposes the president has and I have [is] we want to affect the attitude of the nominees,” he added. “We’ve worked too hard the last seven years to take the party to a place and the country to a place we think it should be.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— Alabama defeated Clemson 45-40 to win the national college football championship. From Chuck Culpepper’s recap: “With Alabama having lumbered into a 24-24 tie with 10 minutes 34 seconds remaining, and with Clemson appearing the more versatile offensive side, the Crimson Tide tried a novel onside kick. ‘I thought we needed to do something that would change the momentum of the game,’ Alabama Coach Nick Saban said afterward on ESPN. Freshman Marlon Humphrey, out on that edge with no orange-clad impediment in sight, settled under that wafting kick, fielded it and planted down at midfield. A game with several turns in it had seen another. Within two plays, Alabama quarterback Jake Coker would throw a 51-yard touchdown pass to tight end O.J. Howard, alone behind a defender who slipped.” If you’re keeping track, this is Alabama’s fourth national championship in seven years! Roll Tide!

Here’s Coker celebrating after scoring in the fourth quarter: 

— Hillary criticized the Obama administration’s new policy of rounding up and deporting families who entered the United States illegally, joining her two rivals for the Democratic nomination who had previously done so. “I do not think the raids are an appropriate tool to enforce the immigration laws. In fact, I think they are divisive. They are sowing discord and fear,” Clinton said at the Iowa Brown & Black Forum. She added that immigration enforcement “has to be done individually by individually,” and not through “mass raids.” (Karen Tumulty)

— A new book says the father of the Koch brothers built a 1930s refinery in Germany that was instrumental to the Nazis. In “Dark Money,” the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer “writes that the family patriarch, Fred Koch, admired German discipline so much in the 1930s that he hired a fervent Nazi as a governess for his eldest boys. ‘Dark Money’ suggests that the experience of being toilet trained by a Nazi may have contributed to Charles Koch’s antipathy toward government today.” (Tom Hamburger)

— After Fox Business relegated him to the undercard debate, Rand Paul announced he won’t appear at all. Carly Fiorina also did not qualify for the main debate. “I think they’ve made a mistake,” the Kentucky senator told David Weigel, shortly after learning of the demotion. “I’m not willing to accept a designation as a minor campaign. We’ve raised $25 million. We’ve gotten on the ballot on every state. It’s kind of ridiculous to arbitrarily rate the campaigns based on national polling.” More: “The network announced weeks ago that the six candidates polling best in national surveys were guaranteed places on stage, and anyone polling in the top five in New Hampshire or Iowa could also grab a lectern. That rescued John Kasich, who barely registers nationally but polls strongly in New Hampshire.” Huckabee and Santorum will join Fiorina at the JV debate.

— Donald Trump, on the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, said his attacks against Hillary Clinton have “not even started” yet. Fallon questioned Trump as part of a humorous mock job interview for the presidency. Trump said his greatest weakness is holding grudges too long, and his greatest strength is to “unify” people. Watch the three-minute “job interview” here. Watch the rest of the interview here.

— At least eight people have been killed in a bomb blast in Istanbul. “The explosion occurred at the heart of the Sultanahmet district, an area known for high tourist traffic and home to Turkey’s famed Blue Mosque,” reports Erin Cunningham. “No group has yet claimed responsibility.”

GET SMART FAST:

  1. A majority of the Supreme Court justices sounded prepared during oral arguments yesterday to hand a significant defeat to organized labor and side with a group of California teachers claiming their free speech rights are violated when forced to pay dues to the state teachers’ union. The case involves only public-employee unions, but this money is the lifeblood of the Democratic Party. Crucially, Anthony Kennedy seemed hostile to the union’s arguments. (Robert Barnes)
  2. The second murder trial in the Freddie Gray case was postponed while attorneys battle over another police officer who faces charges can be forced to testify. (Lynh Bui)
  3. George Washington University rescinded Bill Cosby’s honorary doctorate. (Susan Svrluga)
  4. The Pentagon sent another Guantanamo Bay prisoner who was suspected of being an al-Qaeda fighter back to his home country of Saudi Arabia. (Wall Street Journal)
  5. Afghanistan is seeking unprecedented cooperation from Pakistan’s military to jump-start peace talks with the Taliban, but officials caution that face-to-face discussions between the warring parties may still be months away. (Michael E. Miller and Tim Craig report)
  6. Iran poured concrete into its plutonium reactor, the last task it had to complete so sanctions can be lifted as part of the nuclear deal. (Carol Morello)
  7. The White House issued a veto threat to the Republican-sponsored Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, which cleared a House committee last week and may get a vote before the full House today. (Times of Israel)
  8. Vladimir Putin says it’s too early to discuss whether Russia will give asylum to Bashar al-Assad if he flees Syria. (AP)
  9. A coordinated attack by militants at a Baghdad mall killed at least 13. (Erin Cunningham and Mustafa Salim)
  10. Three Americans sued the Israeli government in U.S. federal court, seeking compensation for injuries sustained in 2010 when they were aboard a civilian boat attacked while attempting to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip. (Spencer S. Hsu)
  11. Four U.N. peacekeepers in the Central African Republic allegedly paid 13-year-old girls for sex. (Kevin Sieff)
  12. A human foot was found on train tracks at the same station in Berkeley, Calif., where three weeks earlier a woman lost part of her leg after getting trapped under a train. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  13. Elon Musk said Tesla’s new autopilot car is already better right now than human drivers. (Todd C. Frankel from the Detroit auto show)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. The State Department will eventually release 29,000 of Huma Abedin’s emails. With the last tranche of Hillary Clinton’s correspondence coming out at the end of this month, the agency’s lawyers will begin reviewing Abedin’s personal emails at a rate of at least 400 pages a month. “The releasable portions will be disclosed to Judicial Watch, with releases complete by April 2017,” per Politico‘s Josh Gerstein.
  2. Clinton proposed increasing taxes on the highest earning Americans by 4 percent, a plan her campaign said would raise $150 billion over 10 years. (Politico)
  3. The Sanders campaign does not have a finance director. Money is entirely raised through the digital and data department. (The Daily Beast)
  4. The House Freedom Caucus is considering hiring as its executive director Ed Buckham, a controversial ex-top aide to Tom DeLay and a central figure in the Jack Abramoff scandal. (Politico)
  5. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) will close Kynect, his state’s health insurance marketplace, next year and push everyone onto the federal exchange. (Lena H. Sun)
  6. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will not be indicted for witness tampering and obstruction of justice for his role in abruptly shutting down an anti-corruption panel shortly after it began its investigation. (New York Times)
  7. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes announced he wants to sell the New Republic four years after he bought the magazine. (Helena Andrews-Dyer)
  8. Rupert Murdoch got engaged to Jerry Hall, the former longtime girlfriend of Mick Jagger. (Daniela Deane)
  9. Marco Rubio, who is under fire for missing more votes than any other senator, scrapped plans to appear at a Florida fundraiser last night attend a classified briefing on Capitol Hill on North Korea. He left through a back hallway afterward to avoid a press stakeout. (Sean Sullivan)
  10. Rubio attacked Cruz’s tax plan, calling it an “intentionally sneaky” value-added tax and arguing it would hurt low-income and elderly Americans. (Wall Street Journal)
  11. The Bush super PAC launched another attack ad against Rubio in Iowa. (Watch here.)
  12. The New Hampshire staff of Ben Carson’s super PAC resigned, indicating they are putting their support behind Ted Cruz. (Jose A. Del Real). The struggling Carson campaign also lost its general counsel, Michael Zarlenga, and operations director, Renee Burchard. (Bloomberg)
  13. Texas Rep. Sam Johnson became the latest Republican in the House delegation to endorse Cruz.
  14. Cruz campaigned and raised money in Baton Rouge. With Bobby Jindal out of the race, the campaign thinks the Texan has the advantage in neighboring Louisiana’s March 5 primary. One of the Cruz super PACs has 19 staffers on the ground. (Katie Zezima)
  15. Speaking of Louisiana, Democrat John Bel Edwards promised that he won’t be a “business-as-usual” governor as he was sworn in to succeed Jindal. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
  16. Former Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) joined the lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, D.C.’s largest lobbying firm by total revenue. (The Hill)
  17. A heckler wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat was kicked out of a Trump rally in New Hampshire after he started yelling that the event was “boring.” (CNN)

THE STATE OF THE UNION IS TONIGHT: 

— Obama’s challenge tonight is to “communicate a message big enough to rise above the election-season vitriol.” “Instead of a to-do list of policy proposals that have little chance of passing Congress, he has said he plans to deliver a speech that will describe ‘who we are’ as a nation — or perhaps more accurately, whom Obama, in the last year of his presidency, would like us to be,” Greg Jaffe and David Nakamura write on today’s front page. “The problem for the president in his seventh year in office is that the gulf between his vision of a unified America … and the political reality has never seemed wider. This final address from the House chamber represents one of his last, best chances to frame the November election.”

— Former Bill Clinton speechwriter Jeff Shesol has written an excellent piece for the New Yorker about the challenge of writing a State of the Union in the eighth year (he knows because he did it): “It is, inescapably, a speech at odds with itself: a backward glance that impels forward motion; an election-year pitch that strives for statesmanship; a speech that acknowledges that power is receding yet projects enough ‘energy in the executive,’ as Alexander Hamilton put it in Federalist No. 70, to finish the job. These are a lot of needles to thread in one speech, and needle-threading rarely gets supporters up out of their seats. During the postwar period, each of the five two-term presidents—Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush—has struggled to get the balance right.”

— In a pre-speech interview with Matt Lauer on this morning’s “Today” show, Obama expressed confidence Trump will not be elected president. “The message that Donald Trump’s putting out has had adherence a lot of times during the course of our history. You know, talk to me if he wins. Then we’ll have a conversation about how responsible I feel about it,” he said. “But I’m pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of Americans are looking for the kind of politics that does feed our hopes and not our fears, that does work together and doesn’t try to divide, that isn’t looking for simplistic solutions and scapegoating but looks for us buckling down and figuring out, ‘How do we make things work for the next generation.'” Asked if he could envision Trump one day delivering a State of the Union address, Obama said: “Well, I can imagine it — in an SNL skit.”

Sidebars:

Guests: 

  • Paul Ryan invited two nuns who are fighting a legal battle against the Affordable Care Act to be his guests. (Mike DeBonis)
  • Mitch McConnell will bring a fourth-generation coal miner who lost his job when his mine shut down. (Washington Examiner)
  • Roll Call made a list of who rank-and-file members scored.

— In the week leading up to the speech, 15 million people on Facebook in the U.S. discussed President Obama and the State of the Union—liking, posting, sharing and commenting 54 million times. The top five most talked-about topics on Facebook in the context of Obama over the last week:

  1. Guns
  2. Islam and Muslims
  3. ISIS
  4. Crime and criminal justice
  5. Terrorism

— Obama will sit down for interviews on Friday with three YouTube personalities: An engineer who breaks wine glasses in front of audiences to demonstrate scientific principles. A 26-year old fashion expert who came out as lesbian last year. A former professional gamer who uses his own animations to illustrate videos that tackle the issue of race. (Juliet Eilperin)

JUMP BALL — Takeaways from the slew of recent polls in Iowa and New Hampshire: 

  • Trump and Cruz are neck-and-neck in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, with Rubio consistently placing a distant third. A Quinnipiac poll released yesterday shows Trump leading Cruz by 2 points in Iowa, 31 to 29 percent. Rubio took 15 percent and Ben Carson finished with 7 percent. Two other recent polls show Cruz with the slight edge in Iowa. A Marist survey shows Cruz beating Trump by four points, with Rubio placing third; and Fox News poll has Cruz ahead by four points, 27 to 23 percent.
  • Cruz has some decided advantages over Trump in Iowa, with Trump’s negative ratings topping the senator’s by 4 to 1. 26 percent of likely GOP caucus-goers would “definitely not” support Trump compared to 7 percent who say the same of Cruz. Cruz also leads on honest and empathy scores, while Trump beats him on “strong leadership.”
  • Trump is running away with the race in New Hampshire, but the rest of the pack is remarkably scrambled. Marist has Trump leading Rubio by 16 points, 30 to 14 percent, with Chris Christie at 12 percent, Cruz at 10 percent and John Kasich and Jeb Bush at 9 percent. Fox puts Rubio in second, followed by Cruz and Bush.  Monmouth shows Cruz, Kasich and Rubio behind Trump with Cruz showing the biggest momentum. And Reach (which includes independents in its sample) pegs Bush in second place, followed by Kasich and Christie.
  • Trump wins in New Hampshire among both men and women. But Jeb does much better with women than men, placing second with the former and fourth with the latter.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University poll puts Christie’s approval rating in New Jersey at 31 percent and his disapproval rating at 59 percent.

MORE UNHELPFUL COMMENTS FOR CRUZ: Because he has made so many enemies in what he calls the Washington cartel, he’s not getting anywhere near the back-up that the Panama-born John McCain did eight years ago. Several prominent, and surprising, people would not say yesterday that the Canadian-born senator is eligible to be president:

  • Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R): “When you run for president of the United States, any question is fair game. So let the people decide.” (Des Moines Register)
  • RNC Chairman Reince Priebus: “Listen, I don’t get involved. I’m not going to get in the middle of all these candidate issues. It’s a bad place for me to be. I’ll let all these folks argue about this stuff, and I’m going to stay out of it.” (Time Magazine)
  • Laurence Tribe, a liberal who taught both Cruz and Obama at Harvard Law School: “Despite Sen. Cruz’s repeated statements that the legal/constitutional issues around whether he’s a natural-born citizen are clear and settled, the truth is that they’re murky and unsettled.” (The Guardian)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

— “Ted Cruz is running a well-organized campaign. His super PACs — not so much,” by Matea Gold and Katie Zezima: “At least eight independent political groups are jockeying to support Cruz now that he has risen in the polls as perhaps the strongest challenger to front­runner Donald Trump. The dynamic has confused wealthy donors and brought disarray to the otherwise orderly political operation that surrounds the freshman senator from Texas. … The swelling number of pro-Cruz super PACs illustrates a challenge posed by the hands-on approach rich donors are taking in the 2016 elections. After seeing little return on the massive sums they gave in 2012, major conservative givers are now deeply immersed in the tactics of the groups they are financing — and in some cases, running their own political operations. … In an interview in Iowa this weekend, Cruz said the proliferation of super PACs working on his behalf was a sign of his appeal. But he also said it would be better if campaigns could accept unlimited donations themselves.”

— The Post’s chief correspondent, Dan Balz, interviewed voters at Trump and Sanders events in Iowa over the weekend: “Most Sanders supporters interviewed over the weekend said they could easily support Clinton if she ended up as the Democratic nominee. Trump supporters found little appeal in the rest of the Republican field, with the exception of Ted Cruz. … A few people who attended the Trump and Sanders rallies over the weekend saw similarities in the appeal of the two candidates, saying both have attracted people who are fed up with politics, with a political system built in part on super PACs, and with cookie-cutter ads and mindless sound bites:”

  • “Martha Swearingen, a retired schoolteacher, is a former Democrat and was an Obama supporter in 2008. Now she is firmly committed to Trump. She sees both Sanders and Trump appealing to the frustrations of millions of voters. ‘Bernie Sanders has some good ideas,’ she said. ‘But I’m not sure that he can get them done.’”
  • “Gary Stone, a corporate pilot who attended the Sanders rally in Des Moines on Saturday night, said he, too, thinks both candidates have ‘generated an awful lot of interest and brought up a lot of ideas,’ but he sees Sanders as ‘head and shoulders’ above Trump. ‘I’ve told people, I think Bernie Sanders is like Donald Trump with a fully developed brain,’ he said.”
  • “In recent days, both Trump and Sanders have warmed to the idea of running against each other. Sanders told supporters in a conference call last week that he would ‘love, love, love’ to run against Trump, saying it would be ‘a dream come true.’ At a rally in New Hampshire on Monday morning, Trump said: ‘I want to run against Bernie. That’s my dream. My dreammmm.’”

— “New breast cancer screening guidelines at odds with Congress,” by Lena H. Sun: “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts whose members are appointed by the federal government, issued a final set of  recommendations late Monday saying that women between the ages of 50 and 74 should get routine screening once every two years. The task force’s guidelines are important because insurers and government programs often follow the panel’s recommendations in deciding whether to cover certain preventive services. The task force’s final recommendation is likely to be controversial because some other groups say the screening should start earlier. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, for example, recommends that regular screenings begin at age 40, while the American Cancer Society calls for women to start yearly screening at age 45 and then move to screening every two years starting at age 55. Congress has sided with proponents of earlier screening.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— Pictures of the day:

After Hillary Clinton complimented Kim Kardashian’s selfie game on “Ellen” (see the interview here), Kardashian posted this shot of their big selfie moment from 2015, hashtagging it “LOVE HER”:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R ) was happy to receive his first haircut since finishing chemotherapy. (Hogan announced he was cancer-free on Nov. 16):

Media Matters poked fun at this lottery advice from Fox News:

One of the Cruz super PACs is sending this mailer to potential voters in Iowa and South Carolina:

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss shared a photo of President Kennedy in the Capitol before his 1962 State of the Union:

— Tweets of the day:

Donald Trump still won’t let go of his spat with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly:

Bernie Sanders re-upped an old tweet from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta:

In a correction issued to a local paper, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) shared where he shops for clothes:

The speaker asked followers to help him choose a tie to wear to the State of the Union. (The options aren’t terribly exciting, though):

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is stoked that University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh (formerly of Stanford) will be his guest tonight:

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) was one of several lawmakers to offer tributes to the late David Bowie:

— Instagrams of the day:

Witness House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) awkward face:

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) attended a ceremony for the Navy ship that will be named for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), right:

The RNC’s Sean Spicer mourned the departure of cole slaw from Chick-fil-A’s menu:

Scott Walker celebrated National Milk Day by posting this photo:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— Wall Street Journal, “GOP turns to New Hampshire’s churches in search of votes,” by Jennifer Levitz: “Republicans are trying to inject religion into New Hampshire, making a new push to mobilize churchgoing voters in one of the least religious states in the country. If it works, the move could provide a boost in the state’s Feb. 9 GOP primary to Ted Cruz … while creating a disadvantage for front-runner Donald Trump, who doesn’t do as well among these groups. Four years ago, just 22% of the state’s primary voters described themselves as evangelicals, well below the 57% in Iowa and the lowest rate among swing states. A 2013 Gallup poll ranked New Hampshire as the second least religious state in the country, behind Vermont …  Candidates who court evangelicals in Iowa.”

— New York Times, “Lessons, and parallels, in Jeb Bush’s failed run for governor,” by Adam Nagourney: “In 1994, like today, Mr. Bush was in a crowded primary of conservatives and struggled to win without moving so far to the right as to undercut his general election prospects. Then as now, he sought to distinguish himself from a president with the same last name without alienating the many Republican voters and donors who admired his family. Once again, he is trying to repair his family’s legacy: In 1994, it was after his father’s defeat; today it is after his brother’s exit from the White House under a cloud of disapproval.  And in that race, as in this one, he made the occasional sloppy statement that could prove damaging — though in 1994, such flubs could be dismissed as rookie mistakes. When asked back then what he would do to help blacks, Mr. Bush responded, ‘Probably nothing,’ shorthand intended to convey his view that government should not tailor programs to specific groups. Democrats hammered him. ‘He was confident enough of his intellect and his positions on policy issues, but sometimes his filter wouldn’t function properly,’ said Mac Stipanovich, who ran the campaign. ‘He didn’t think about how something would sound, because he knew what he wanted to say.'”

— Los Angeles Times, “Kamala Harris shows she’s still a U.S. Senate candidate under construction,” by Cathleen Decker: “The absence of a new, Senate-focused approach came up almost inadvertently when a supporter asked what she’d advise President Obama on Islamic State … ‘I don’t think I’m in any position to advise President Obama.… He knows more than any of us in this room,’ she said. The crowd laughed, but the comment underscored her lack of federal experience. … The Senate race to this point has been largely off the public radar. Harris has spent much of her time raising money privately. That backfired somewhat when recent campaign reports showed that she’d already spent a huge portion of money meant for the campaign stretch, in part for expensive hotels and flights. (Asked Sunday about those reports, Harris said that the campaign has ‘restructured and reduced expenses.’) The invisibility of her campaign has led some in her own party to wonder whether Harris had stalled as a candidate.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

A new poll shows the majority of Western Americans oppose giving land owned by the federal government to the states or private citizens. From the Los Angeles Times: “According to the Conservation in the West poll … 58% of people questioned in seven states in the Mountain West oppose giving state governments control over federal public lands and 60% oppose selling ‘significant holdings’ of public lands, such as national forests, to reduce the budget deficit.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Heritage Action said Republicans should not allow a single judicial confirmation during the remainder of Obama’s tenure. From Politico: “Heritage Action called for an end to judicial confirmations during Obama’s final year, and on Tuesday it will call for an end to all confirmations except for those necessary to national security. The high-profile conservative group joined previous calls by Ted Cruz and other senators to block Obama from filling any further vacancies, most notably, the federal courts, which could decide key parts of his legacy in the years and decades ahead.”

DAYBOOK:

— What’s happening today on the campaign trail:

  • Christie delivers the State of the State address in New Jersey at 3 p.m. (Watch the livestream here. His office sent a 30-second preview.)
  • Clinton speaks in Ames, Iowa, at 10 a.m. Central, followed by an appearance in Dubuque at 1:45 p.m.
  • Trump speaks at the University of Northern Iowa at 6 p.m. CT.
  • Cruz hosts a “Second Amendment” rally in Hudson, N.H. followed by a town hall in Londonderry.
  • Jeb also in Iowa, makes stops in Coralville, Grinnell and Akeny.
  • Huckabee campaigns in Washington, Williamsburg, Coralville, Muscatine, and Clinton.
  • Santorum holds a town hall in Independence followed stops at private house parties in Cedar Rapids and Robins.
  • Fiorina heads to Holstein, Denison and Des Moines.

— Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin, Mazie Hirono, Amy Klobuchar, and Claire McCaskill will campaign on behalf of Hillary in Iowa on Friday and Saturday.

— On the Hill: The House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business. First votes are expected at 1:15 p.m. and the last round of votes is expected at 4:00 p.m. The House will recess no later than 5:30 p.m. and reconvene at approximately 8:35 p.m to hear the President’s State of the Union Address.

— At the White House: President Obama delivers his eighth and final State of the Union address from the Capitol at 9 p.m. Eastern.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Hell if I know. I don’t really care.” – Jeb Bush, asked about why his net favorability sunk from +27 in July to -1 in the latest Gallup poll. (BuzzFeed)

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

“Clouds dominate the sky today as temperatures work up to warmer levels of the middle to upper 40s by afternoon,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “Winds come from the south at 10-15 mph, but then shift to come from the west late in the day with higher gusts.”

— The Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 114-100. (Jorge Castillo)

— “Robert Griffin III, the one-time face of the Washington Redskins, cleaned out his locker Monday morning at Redskins Park, likely for the final time,” Liz Clarke reports. “Griffin, 25, declined to make a statement or field questions, as at least two dozen reporters and TV photographers gathered around in pursuit of his parting thoughts on what’s known as locker-room clean-out day, when NFL players have their exit interviews with coaches, gather for one final team meeting and cart away their belongings.”

— Vincent Gray is seriously looking at trying to make a comeback. A poll sponsored by supporters of the former D.C. mayor gave him a double-digit lead over other contenders for the upcoming D.C. Council race in his home ward. “The automated poll also shows Gray (D) leading in a contest for an at-large seat over current Council member Vincent B. Orange (D) and other challengers,” Abigail Hauslohner and Scott Clement reportsThe poll’s methodology is bad for several reasons, explained in the piece, and the last Post poll of the District showed voters view Gray more negatively. 

— The Sierra Club endorsed Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s Senate race. (Rachel Weiner)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Netflix released a campaign-style trailer for the next season of House of Cards, which debuts March 4:

While appearing on “Ellen,” Hillary played a game of “Heads Up!” with “Scandal” star Tony Goldwyn:

Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union and A.J. Cook appeared with Michelle Obama to promote healthy eating in this sketch: