Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellRyan seeks to put stamp on GOP in Trump era Trump and Ryan to speak by phone Bill would require nominees to release tax returns 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 ReidOvernight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Wasserman Schultz fights to keep her job Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return 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."