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Obama heads to Hawaii

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: 

* President Obama called on Congress to extend tax cuts for people earning under $250,000 and to extend unemployment benefits before the end of the year. The president asked congressional leaders to come up with a plan for a vote next week. 

* With "fiscal cliff" negotiations reaching a standstill, Obama was headed out of town on Friday evening for his annual winter vacation in Hawaii. The trip will be brief: Aides said he is scheduled to return Wednesday, a day after Christmas, to resume discussions with leaders in Congress. 

* Obama nominated Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to be his next secretary of state. "In a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role," Obama said. Kerry is expected to be easily confirmed. His departure from the Senate would prompt Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to appoint a replacement, then a special election will be held to decide who will serve the rest of Kerry's term. Here's a complete primer on the names to watch in the special election. Patrick said on Friday that he plans to appoint someone who would not run in the special election. 

* After abruptly canceling a vote on his own plan to avert the "fiscal cliff" on Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) said on Friday morning that he would continue to negotiate with the White House to get a deal done, but that “how we get there, God only knows."

WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T MISS:

* Democrats swiftly criticized the NRA's call for armed guards to be placed in schools to prevent violence. Sen.-elect Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called the NRA's press conference "the most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen."

* Former Nebraska Republican senator Chuck Hagel issued a statement retracting his 1998 comments about a gay ambassadorial nominee, prompting the Human Rights Campaign to embrace him. The group had previously called on Hagel, who is under consideration to be Obama's next defense secretary -- to apologize for his remark. 

*  In a Washington Post op-ed, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) wrote that he was “open to a discussion about whether we need more security in our schools, as the NRA proposed in Friday’s news conference, but that can’t be the only measure that comes out of this.” Manchin said this week that he was willing to talk about new regulations on guns, though in his op-ed he called for a review of the entertainment industry and mental health services to also be part of a broader approach to addressing mass violence.

* The NRA took no questions at its Friday press conference, but top figures in the group have to address questions this Sunday. NRA President David Keene will appear on CBS's "Face The Nation," Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre will be on NBC's "Meet The Press" and former Arkansas congressman Asa Hutchinson (who is heading the NRA’s National School Shield Program) will appear on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."  

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Deck the halls (with Obama)!

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Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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