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First thoughts: Now what?

So now what? … Our NBC/WSJ poll provides one answer why House Republicans will read the Constitution beginning at 10:30 am ET… NBC’s Brian Williams to interview Boehner for tonight's "Nightly News"… Could today (or tomorrow) be the day we hear if Bill Daley becomes the new White House chief of staff?... Robert Gibbs sits down for an exclusive interview on “Daily Rundown”… On Pelosi’s speech and the 19 Dems who voted against her… Tea Party-backed members hire insiders to be their chiefs of staff… Daniels mixed signals on 2012… And Michele Bachmann ducks the 2012 question on “TODAY.”

*** Now what? All the pieces for our 2011 Washington chess board are now in place, or are about to be. John Boehner is the newly minted House speaker; the Tea Party members of Congress have been sworn in; and President Obama appears ready to tap a new chief of staff (Bill Daley?) as well as other new senior aides. The question becomes: Now what? Well, the day after taking power, House Republicans will read the U.S. Constitution in full on the House floor, beginning at 10:30 am ET. After that comes the House vote -- on Jan. 12 -- to repeal the health-care law, which is unlikely to go anywhere in the U.S. Senate. And there will be the showdown -- sometime in March -- over raising the debt ceiling. What does Boehner think about these and other issues? Tune into NBC’s “Nightly News” tonight for Brian Williams’ exclusive interview with the new speaker and the new face of the Republican Party.

*** Why read the Constitution? Regarding today's reading of the Constitution, the Washington Post notes, “The House historian's office found no record of the Constitution ever having been read aloud on the chamber's floor, although twice lawmakers have submitted the text into the Congressional Record. Roswell Flower (D-N.Y.) did so in 1882 and Thomas Reilly (D-Conn.) in 1915, according to House Historian Matthew Wasniewski.” Why are Republicans reading the Constitution? Look no further than our NBC/WSJ poll right before the midterms. In it, 38% of conservatives, 41% of Republicans, and 50% of Tea Party supporters said one of the top messages they wanted to send in the election was returning to “the principles of the Constitution.” By comparison, just 8% of Democrats, 8% of liberals, 17% of moderates, and 22% of independents said that. Simply put, this is a hat tip to the GOP’s fired-up base that the party believes propelled them into the House majority.

*** A major retooling? Today -- or tomorrow -- could very well be when we get the news if former Clinton Commerce Secretary Bill Daley becomes Obama’s new chief of staff. Yesterday, per NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, Daley met at the White House with the president and interim chief of staff Pete Rouse, who’s also being considered for the job permanently. At his press briefing, outgoing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted that there was a “pretty major retooling" going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And he’s right: In the next month or two, it could very well be that Rouse (possibly returning to his role as senior adviser, if Daley becomes chief of staff), Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett are the only remaining old members of Obama’s top leadership team.

*** New Order: The two biggest players in this new White House order, by the way, would be Daley and Plouffe. They would have the largest portfolios of any senior aides in the building. Now it doesn't mean the influence of others would be diminished, but the expansive portfolio of Plouffe, in particular, does say a lot. And one other reminder about the signal the Daley hiring would send: Daley and Plouffe are not being brought in to manage Washington and a legislative agenda (a la Rahm, Rouse, Messina, Schiliro). Daley and Plouffe and the new team are coming in to retool the West Wing to become more responsive to OUTSIDE Washington needs; more responsive to governors and mayors -- you know, the folks that matter a heckuva lot more in an election year.

*** Gibbs’ exit interview: By the way, Gibbs will sit down for an exclusive interview today on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.”

*** Pelosi’s final pitch: While critics have accused Republicans of re-litigating the past -- like with next week's health-care vote -- the same could be said of Nancy Pelosi's speech yesterday introducing Boehner. In it, Pelosi once again touted the successes of the past Congress. "As I now prepare to hand over the gavel, I know one thing above all else. Thanks to you, we have stood for those children and for their families-for their health, their education, the safety of the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat, she said. "Thanks to you, for those children and families, we -- made the largest-ever commitment to making college more affordable; enacted Wall Street Reform with the greatest consumer protections in history; and passed a strong Patient's Bill of Rights.” By the way, the San Francisco Examiner notes that Pelosi’s speech introducing Boehner was longer than Boehner’s speech.

*** Breaking down the anti-Pelosi 19: As we observed yesterday, these 19 House Democrats didn’t vote for Pelosi: Altmire (PA), Barrow (GA), Bishop (GA), Boren (OK), Cardoza (CA), Cooper (TN), Costa (CA), Donnelly (IN), Giffords (AZ), Holden (PA), Kind (WI), Kissell (NC), Lipinski (IL), McIntyre (NC), Matheson (UT), Michaud (ME), Ross (AR), Schrader (OR), and Shuler (NC). Of these 19, seven hail from districts McCain won in ’08; 12 hail from Obama-won districts; seven voted for the Obama agenda (both cap-and-trade and health care); eight voted against the Obama agenda; eight won re-election with 55% or more; and 11 won re-election with less than 55%. House Dem leadership aides believe there's nothing to see here about these 19 members. But it was a much bigger number than many privately believed would ultimately go public. And it probably means Pelosi is on a much shorter leash as leader of her caucus than many would like to admit. These 19 can't simply be explained away as disgruntled Blue Dogs. It's a more ideologically and geographically diverse group of dissenters.

*** The inside game: Remember when Obama, who campaigned as an outsider, received flak from appointing the ultimate insider -- Rahm Emanuel -- as his chief of staff? Well, Roll Call reports that many of the new Tea Party-backed members of Congress have also tapped insiders as their chiefs of staff. “A Roll Call analysis of new Members’ picks for chief of staff found that of the 96 chiefs, at least 60 have previously worked for a Member of Congress or a committee…. GOP leadership had nudged new Members to hire experienced staffers, even putting together a list of about 75 potential chiefs of staff, including current and former Capitol Hill staffers and lobbyists.”

*** Daniels’ mixed signals: Earlier this week, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) signaled that his family might not have the stomach for a presidential run. “It scares them to death,” he said of the media’s scrutiny. “And it should.” But now Politico’s Martin is reporting that Daniels will speak at next month’s CPAC cattle call. “It's another sign that Daniels is thinking seriously about a White House bid,” Martin says. “He has previously eschewed the Republican cattle call circuit, insisting that he's entirely focused on his day job. The CPAC appearance offers Daniels a high-profile platform to address his comments last year that there ought to be a ‘truce’ on cultural issues to address the country's pressing fiscal problems.”

*** Bachmann ducks the 2012 question: Asked on “TODAY” about if she was serious about a White House run in 2012, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) essentially ducked the question. “What I'm serious about is focusing on the issues.” When NBC’s Meredith Vieira pressed her for a firmer answer, Bachmann replied that she’s giving a speech in Iowa. “If you speak in Iowa today, most people think you're running for president.” What is Bachmann up to? Well, if Sarah Palin decides not to run for president, there certainly would be a Tea Party and female void in the GOP field. But here’s something else to chew on: Is Bachmann simply keeping the door open to a presidential run to build up a donor base for a possible Senate run against Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D)?

Countdown to release of the monthly jobs report: 1 day
Countdown to the RNC chair election: 8 days
Countdown Chicago’s mayoral election: 47 days
Countdown to Election Day 2011: 306 days
Countdown to the Iowa caucuses: 396 days
* Note: When the IA caucuses take place depends on whether other states move up

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