Capitol Hill's top two Republicans sought to frame President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday evening as an essentially political exercise meant to blame Republicans for the nation's woes.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused Obama of giving up on Congress and trying to shift the blame for a bad economy on GOP lawmakers.
In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell said it was "hard not to feel a sense of disappointment even before tonight's speech is delivered." He said campaign season has begun.
"Based on what the president's aides have been telling reporters," McConnell said, "the goal isn't to conquer the nation's problems. It's to conquer Republicans. The goal isn't to prevent gridlock but to guarantee it."
"As I see it, the message from the White House is that the President's basically given up. He got nearly everything he wanted from Congress for the first two years of his presidency. The results are in. It's not good. So he's decided spend the rest of the year trying to convince folks that the results of the economic policies he put in place are Congress's fault, not his," McConnell added.
McConnell and other Republicans today say the president can't walk into the chamber tonight and make it sound like "he just walked in the door."
Reflecting unity in the GOP messaging, House Speaker John Boehner (OH) also laid into the president for what the GOP speaker expects will be a "campaign speech."
"The president's been in total campaign mode since Labor Day," Boehner told reporters. "Since the campaign apparently wrote the speech I expect we'll hear a campaign speech."
Boehner echoed McConnell's sentiment of disappointment even before the speech has been given, citing reports that have previewed what to expect from President Obama during his address tonight.
"Based on what I've read about the State of the Union speech it sounds like we're going to hear a rerun of what we've heard over the last three years: more spending, higher taxes and more regulations," Boehner said.