(CNN)-It's early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the morning headlines to go with your cup of coffee.
On our radar this morning: The firestorm over the W.H.'s contraception policy, Mitt Romney's Maine win, and the untimely death of Whitney Houston.
Check out what we're reading, and be sure to watch our interview with W.H. Chief of Staff Jacob Lew and GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum at 9am/12pm ET.
Bishops Reject White House’s New Plan on Contraception
Administration officials said the White House had never expected to get the bishops’ support, given their absolute opposition to contraception, and was surprised when the initial statement of the bishops conference on Friday was noncommittal and went so far as to call the president’s modification a step in the right direction.
Already three lawsuits have been filed against the birth control mandate, two by religious colleges and one by a Catholic media outlet.
Mitt Romney benefiting from divide among conservatives
The number of votes cast in a straw poll of conservative activists was only a couple thousand fewer than the total at Maine caucuses. But for Mitt Romney, the verdict of attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference may have been a more significant victory Saturday.
It was the best showing for any Republican presidential hopeful since George W. Bush won 42% of the vote at CPAC's 2000 confab. But it wasn't Romney's first victory there; he won the straw polls from 2007 to 2009.
Election 2012: Republicans united on goal — beat Obama — divided on how to get there
Not since Reagan in 1976 has the voice of an also-ran been so influential, some Republicans argue, because the party needs the energy that his supporters can bring. Romney in particular has been noticeably solicitous of Paul’s goodwill.
“Ron Paul is the only Republican whose endorsement matters in turning out voters in the general election,” said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. “He’s building a wing of the modern Republican Party.”
Lower Republican turnout seen as warning sign to party
While the Republican race has been marked by any number of twists, the decline in turnout has been consistent from the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, with the number of self-identified Republican voters falling everywhere but South Carolina. The burst of enthusiasm there followed two closely watched debates and 11 days of fierce campaigning. But it failed to carry forward.
Turnout has fallen in every contest since: down 14% in Florida, 26% in Nevada, 6% in Colorado, 23% in Minnesota and 58% in Missouri
Obama gambles on costly initiatives in new budget
A Year of Tax-Code Reckoning
This time around, Mr. Obama has vowed that he will not extend the tax cuts for upper-income Americans, and no matter who wins the presidential election in November, Mr. Obama will be in the White House on Expiration Day. That will put pressure on Republicans in Congress to prevent a sudden return to the tax code of the 1990s.
Of course, if the G.O.P. wins control of the White House and both houses of Congress, Republican leaders could allow those wholesale tax increases to take place, with the expectation that they will overturn them once they assume control later in January. They could use a parliamentary mechanism called reconciliation
Syria unrest: Arab League to meet in Cairo for talks
Officials say the ministers could discuss a joint observer mission with the UN and recognition of the main opposition group.
DEATH OF WHITNEY HOUSTON
World mourns death of music legend Whitney Houston
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The repubs love to talk about the Reagan years, but Reagan had two luxuries this president don't have. He had personal computer boom and tipper O'Neil in congress who was willing to work for the good of the people. Obama came out with the healthcare plan, the dens who had the power in Congress urged him to go with the Dingle payer. Obama batched them and went with the private insurance mandate pushed by Romney and Gingrich, and almost all the repubs. Guest what the repubs batched Obama and demogogged their plan. They deny this president at every turn, every time he come over their side, such as the the budget crisis debacle when this president abandoned the dems and went for the mother load of cuts, and yet the repubs say no just because he wanted the rich to pay a couple of dollars more to the economy. Thus country would have been booming right now if the repubs didn't stop the modernization of our country. I wonder what history will say about this repubs group. I wonder if they will take in consideration that this group is the most obstructive in history. I wonder if the first black president had any thing to do with it.
this billionaires who doesnt want to contribute tax are not loosing money but instead they gained too much for all the tax credit they got. They have all the priviledges and we don't even sure if they declare their tax right. They know the techniques on how they will recover the expenses and why not try to audit this millionares and billionares and see that all the trips and food expenses on meeting is on tax payer's burden. All the luxuries and the donations they make and who get it, they are tax evaders and don't have clean conscience all they want is money and too greedy to share it. I bet the money they are using coming from the richy people and when they win the election, they will get it back by passing the law in favor of the rich people.
None of the republican cult members are worthy and winnable....they mess, they messed, they are going to mess this nation further....
Do you think any of the Republican cult leaders are trustworthy? No. Enough of these idiots, and thugs of this nation.
Watched Candy interview the Right Wing war monger Leiberman. These guys scare me and should scare everyone.
Now they want intervention in Syria and are pushing for confrontation , IE: War with Iran. They say Iran is 'The' big threat. I thought Iraq was supposed to be the big threat? Iraq used to confront and box in Iran but after Billions of dollars and thousands of young dead Americans. We have turned Iraq into an Iranian ally. The Lunacy of the Right Wing in America is inexcusable. they should be charged with four thousand counts of negligent homicide.
Watched Candy interview Right Wing War Hawk ,Lieberman. These people are so dangerous and so scary. Ready for more wars in Syria and Iran. How much debt and dead American soldiers will it ake to placate them? Lieberman says Iran is the big threat to the world. Thats what they said about Iraq. Now after a Trillion dollars and Four Thousand dead American kids, we have turned Iraq into an Iranian ally. Lunacy !
Suspension of Roland Martin is probably appropriate, but I cannot understand why CNN continues to include Ralph Reed as a legitimate associate. He is an unindicted co-conspirator who, along with lobbyist Abramoff, defrauded a California Tribe out of $400,000 by agreeing to represent their application to open a casino while secretly working to stop the project. Abramoff went to jail.