State of the Union could spark new showdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWBT) - This is an election year, and try as he might the president will have a tough time escaping the chatter over his campaign.  But if the tone of the president's State of the Union Address tonight is similar to what we have heard for the last year, Republicans are already signaling compromise will be hard to come by.

President Obama will come to Capitol Hill tonight ready to challenge Republicans to move in a direction they may be uncomfortable with.

"Every member of Congress and 1/3rd of the Senate are up for re-election," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "(Its) not just the president and they all have to be all have to be accountable to their constituents."

The president will force that accountability by proposing a tax plan that they claim will make everyone equal, it is another attempt to make the rich pay more.

Henrico Congressman Eric Cantor called that plan divisive and said it won't work.

"Unite the American people 100% of us, all together" he said. "Not try to pit one side against each other."

Republicans view re-packaging an old issue as nothing more than a campaign tactic, and they see tonight's speech as an unofficial launch of the campaign.

Senator Mark Warner, who still views the debt crisis as looming long term problem is worried 2012 will be a tough year to get anything done.

"Conventional political wisdom is that we aren't going to anything but fight this year," he said "I hope that is not the case."

But Cantor, who is considered to have one of the most powerful voices in Washington, believes it's time for democrats to take a look at his party's plans.

"It's the president and Harry Reid who don't necessarily share our view that have to change things," he said. "They want to keep going like we've always done."

Those are strong words that are setting the stage for what could be a very contentious year.

And among those attending the speech tonight, civil rights icon and Hopewell City Councilman ,  Reverend Curtis Harris. Senator Mark Warner invited Reverend Harris as his guest.  Warner says he's known him for nearly 20 years, and has a lot of respect for his contributions.

Rev. Harris was Hopewell's first African-American mayor. He also marched with the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We have extended clips from Cantor and Warner on

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