Republicans Want Obama to Admit Current Agenda Won’t Bring About Recovery
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called Obama's proposal for a partial spending freeze a good start. But, he added, Obama should also abandon big spending proposals on health care, climate change and jobs.
"This isn't about a pivot in terms of his message," Boehner said. "I think that most Americans know that actions speak louder than words."
Republicans are feeling emboldened following a string of GOP victories at the polls, including a stunning win by Republican Scott Brown last week in the special Massachusetts Senate election. Since then, Obama has amped up his populist rhetoric and promised a renewed focus on job creation.
"We are looking to hear from this president, not just a change in message but, frankly, an admission that the agenda being pursued is not one that brings us back to recovery," said House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.
Congressional Republicans said they welcome the focus on jobs, but they aren't about to abandon what they believe has been a winning strategy: opposing expensive proposals by Democrats, even those aimed at creating jobs.
"One of the reasons people are so angry this year, they look at what we're doing and they don't think it has any connection to what they think we ought to be doing," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "That's a curable problem. All the majority needs to do is go in a different direction."
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will deliver the Republican response following Obama's speech. National GOP leaders picked McDonnell after he was elected in a rout last fall in the same state Obama and the Democrats swept in 2008.
McDonnell said his 10-minute speech will put a "positive, happy, pro-business face" on Republican politics while focusing on job creation, new energy sources, education reform and balancing state powers against federal intrusion.
McDonnell will speak live from the Virginia House of Delegates before an audience of about 300 friends, family, supporters and members of his administration.
In a new twist for Republicans, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., will tape a Spanish language version of the Republican response. Diaz-Balart's speech will be carried by Spanish language media.
AP Political Writer Bob Lewis in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.