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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellHow the president-elect will 'Trump-start' the economy Federal courts: Pawn in a political game Senate Dems may block water bill over drought language MORE (R-Ky.) is taking an opening shot at President Obama ahead of his final State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.
"The question is will he rise to the moment," the Republican leader said on Monday afternoon. "Based on what the White House has been saying in the media, it's unlikely we'll hear a unifying message for our country tomorrow."
McConnell added that the president should use the speech to demonstrate that he can "cooperate and engage in good faith" with a Republican-controlled Congress as he heads into his final year.
Administration officials have suggested the president will have a "nontraditional" speech, including highlighting some of his signature policies — and largest battles with Republicans. He's also expected to touch on gun control after rolling out new executive actions that were widely panned by Republicans.
The Kentucky Republican added that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will have a "positive message" during her Republican rebuttal after the president's speech.
Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidFree speech is a right, not a political weapon Overnight Tech: FCC eyes cybersecurity role | More trouble for spectrum auction | Google seeks 'conservative outreach' director Cures bill clears first Senate hurdle MORE (D-Nev.), however, quickly defended Obama, pointing to legislative wins, including the Affordable Care Act, and his handling of the financial crisis at the start of his first term in 2009 as reasons Obama "is one of the best presidents of all time."
"As we look back over seven years of the Obama presidency, one thing is clear Republicans have failed in their radical crusade against him," he added. "I have a lot of affection and admiration for President Obama, and most everyone knows that."