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At Maryland Mosque, Obama Calls Muslims 'Real Americans'

President Obama speaks during his final State of the Union address last month. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Visiting a mosque on U.S. soil for the first time, President Barack Obama urged Americans to reject politics that target those of a single faith and told Muslim-Americans “you’re right where you belong.”  

Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore offered him a chance to counter anti-Muslim rhetoric from some leading GOP presidential hopefuls such as Donald Trump. And it was met with resistance from some on the country’s political right. Calling members of the Muslim faith who reside here “true Americans,” the president thanked them for “serving” their communities and helping “build America.”  

Obama, Ryan to Lunch Tuesday at White House

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as he arrives to deliver his final State of the Union address. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House expects President Barack Obama and the Republican House and Senate leaders on Tuesday to discuss issues ranging from taxes to criminal justice to national security.  

Obama is scheduled to meet privately with Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Later, he and Ryan will have a one-on-one lunch meeting. It will be Obama’s first private meeting with Ryan since the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee became speaker in late October. Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the trio should discuss several matters on which they appear to agree. That list includes a sweeping trade pact Obama’s administration negotiated with Asian countries, battling the heroin epidemic, and authorizing the fight against the Islamic State.  

Obama Urges 'Better Politics' to Tackle Challenges

"Democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens,” Obama told Congress and a nationwide audience. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama used his last State of the Union address to prod both Congress and the American people, saying America’s political system needs an overhaul if the country is to successfully tackle a list of “challenges.”  

In an unique address to a joint session of Congress, Obama laid out a mostly optimistic vision for a United States, one he said should be followed long after he leaves office to provide “prosperity and security for generations to come.”  

SOTU: Obama Tries to Reassure Anxious Public

Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office on Tuesday as he prepares to give his 7th and the final State of the Union address. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama will take an optimistic message about the future of America to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening, using his final State of the Union to reassure a distressed public and challenge a restive Congress.  

Obama hopes to use his final address to lawmakers to strike a stark contrast with what the White House has described as “gloom and doom” talk from the Republican presidential candidates about the trajectory of the country. He and his top aides are previewing the prime time speech as a break from tradition, saying Obama will speak in broad terms rather than lay out a sweeping legislative agenda.

Amid ISIS Worries, Voters Warm to Obama's Economy

Will Obama get credit for the economy being less of a concern?. (Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

Polls show voters are giving President Barack Obama higher marks for guiding the economy, but security concerns could be clouding recent snapshots of the electorate’s mindset.  

Trends in voters’ collective worries have transformed, for now at least, the 2016 election cycle into one focused in large part on national security and foreign policy issues. In recent months, terrorism has surged to the top of lists of voters’ top concerns nearly 10 months before the presidential and congressional elections. “I don’t think that’s a reflection that the president’s policies have worked,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a Republican up for re-election in 2016. “I’m guessing they’re saying national security is their top concern right now.  

Obama and the Mythical Arab Ground Force

Pro-Iraqi government forces wait next to armored vehicles on Tuesday in the al-Aramil area before pushing into Anbar province's capital Ramadi. (AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama and Republicans agree on at least one foreign policy issue, calling for Arab countries to do more against the Islamic State. But there are reasons aplenty to see holes in what is a key part of their strategies for defeating the violent extremist group.  

Despite a new Saudi Arabian-led coalition to fight ISIS, the U.S. has gotten little in return from bipartisan calls for its friends in the Middle East to help raise an Arab ground force. And some experts and lawmakers doubt that will dramatically change, further giving the 2016 election the look of a national security referendum. Earnest: Saudi Arabia Human Rights a 'Significant Concern' 

Obama Poised to Tighten Gun Laws After Holidays

Congressional Republicans and Obama are at a standoff over access to guns. . (Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images File Photo)

Senior congressional aides and sources in the gun-control community expect the White House to use its executive powers to tighten federal gun laws shortly after President Barack Obama returns from a Hawaiian vacation in early January.  

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday he anticipates a legal review to continue through the holidays.  

Donald Trump, the Accidental Populist

Trump responds to a cheering crowd of supporters on Tuesday in Las Vegas. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Donald Trump's brash campaign-trail tactics are an accidental stumble into a brash and unprecedented populist presidential bid rather than the convictions of a true believer, campaign observers say.  

“I think he has stumbled on this populist campaigning style," said GOP political strategist John Feehery. "I don't think he's that ideological."  

Obama Looking for a 'Mulligan' on ISIS Speech

Obama's prime-time speech on the war against terror was largely panned. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

The unofficial theme of President Barack Obama’s week is the fight against the Islamic State, but there are questions whether the public will give him a do-over after his recent prime-time address fell flat.  

Obama made a rare appearance Monday in the Pentagon briefing room, warning leaders of the group “you’re next” after ticking off a list of their predecessors killed by U.S. and coalition air strikes.  

Mitch McConnell: New War Authorization Not Happening Anytime Soon

McConnell doesn't seem inclined to bring an AUMF to the floor.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dismissed President Barack Obama's call for new authority to use force to combat the Islamic State.  

"I don't think so," the Kentucky Republican told Roll Call when asked about the prospects for a Senate debate on a new Authorization for Use of Military Force in the first half of 2016.