PROGRAM NOTE: WMAL will carry the President's State of the Union address LIVE at 9 pm.
WASHINGTON -- With the threat of deep and damaging federal spending cuts looming by month's end, it's not entirely clear what kind of tone President Obama will take Tuesday night in his fifth State of the Union address to Congress, but in all likelihood, it will not approach the sharp edge provided by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney when he previewed the speech Tuesday during WMAL's Mornings On The Mall program.
Carney took issue with media reports read to him by WMAL's Brian Wilson - reports quoting an unnamed White House official who said President Obama will "throw down the gauntlet", or essentially , pick a fight with Congress over his second term agenda.
"Well, I don't know who that alleged White House official is, but that's just actually not the case," said Carney, who went on to claim the President has called for the nation to come together as a nation in every major address he's given on the national stage, dating back to 2004.
"I'm not sure what article you're citing, but it could not be more inaccurate," he added.
Carney told Wilson and partner Larry O'Connor that the President's address will focus on fixing the debt while protecting vulnerable taxpayers.
"What you'll hear from the president is an absolute commitment to reduce the deficit further in a balanced way, which is how the American people want it to be done," Carmey told WMAL. " We can do more and we must do more, but we have to do it in a balanced way. We can't have seniors or middle class families trying to send their kids to school to bear the whole burden. It's just not right," he added.
Wilson and O'Connor pressed Carney on other issues as well - from the President's handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, to the Senate confirmation hearing for Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel. When Wilson suggested that Hagel's performance suggested an ignorance of defense policy and military doctrine, Carney offered a sharp rebuke.
"Well, that's preposterous. I can tell you're coming from a certain angle here, but the fact is that Chuck Hagel is a decorated veteran," said Carney. "He did fine in the confirmation hearings, he will be an excellent secretary of defense, and there is a majority - an easy majority - in the Senate to confirm him, and we believe he'll be confirmed," he added.
Carney blamed Hagel's questioning on Senators who were determined to attack the nominee's opposition to the war in Iraq.
"That's history," said Carney. "We need to focus on the problems and the challenges that we have today."
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