DAYBREAK DAILY: Batter up. Now it's President Obama's turn to take the stage

ABC7 TRAFFIC: Not pretty. Use extreme caution and common sense. Watch for pooling water. Speed at others’ peril. Metro and locations east of I95, expect delays and perhaps detours. Enough said. Check @DaybreakSkip on Twitter for breaking updates. Here’s the traffic flow map:

ABC7 WEATHER: Still miserable. The seemingly never-ending rain has caused flooding all over the place. A flash-flood watch is in effect for much of the region. Even more periods or rain and some thunderstorms are in works as remnants of what once was Lee continue to pinwheel to our west.

GOP GAB GALA: Predictably pious rhetoric in California, per the New York Times, “The fight for the Republican presidential nomination began narrowing into an intense and ideological battle at a debate here Wednesday night, with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Mitt Romney sharply clashing over Social Security, health care and each other’s long-term prospect against President Obama. A series of spirited exchanges between the two men, which revealed differences in substance and style, offered the first extensive look into the months-long contest ahead. They traded attacks on each other’s job creation records and qualifications to be president, overshadowing their opponents in the crowded Republican field.”

HOWEVER. . . “Some of the toughest criticism — and some of the most factually problematic — was reserved for the policies, programs, and principles traditionally associated with Democrats, from tackling climate change to broadening access to health care to providing retirement insurance for the elderly.”

MOREOVER: Per political columnist Dana Milbank, regarding Perry, “The querulous candidate, in his debut, fought with everybody and every thing. Social Security, he declared anew, is “a monstrous lie” and a “Ponzi scheme.” Making economic decisions because of climate-change science is “nonsense,” he announced, likening scientists who believe in global warming to flat-earthers. “Galileo got outvoted for a spell,” he said.”

NOW IT’S THE PRESIDENT’S TURN: He unveils his jobs plan tonight in a joint-session speech, and “several congressional Republicans have said that they don’t plan to be in the House chamber when Obama delivers his jobs address to a joint session at 7 p.m. Thursday. A White House spokesman called their planned absences “regrettable.”

MEANWHILE: Texas still in flames, per the Austin American-Statesman, “Bastrop wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of houses and thousands of acres continued to burn, but firefighters say they are making progress battling the blaze. Officials said Wednesday that they have contained 30 percent of the larger Bastrop fire, which has so far annihilated about 800 houses and 34,000 acres, according to the Texas Forest Service.”

MUCH ADO ABOUT: The so-called butt-slasher, who now apparently is on the lam, per the Post, “The man slipped behind young women in some of Fairfax County’s busiest shopping malls. He’d distract them, slash at their buttocks with a razor or box cutter, then dart off into the crowd. Fairfax police said they may finally have identified the mysterious slasher — but as of Wednesday evening, they had not found him. Johnny D. Guillen Pimentel, 40, may have fled the area weeks ago, police said.”

DON’T FALL FOR IT: Per ARLnow, “Police say an increasing number of Arlington residents are getting phone calls from scamsters claiming to be bill collectors.”

WITTY AND GAY: And a bit angry, as well, per the City Paper, “The D.C. Log Cabin Republicans, the most influential gay Republican group around, have some fightin' words for Councilmember David Catania after he made glib remarks about Republican Party's lack of relevance in District politics. . . D.C. Log Cabin President Robert Turner issued a press release (Wednesday) saying Catania ought to "know that Republicans, while few in the District, are spread all over this city. We are a cross-section of our communities, being of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientation, and economic status. To insinuate otherwise is simply ignorant."

SPORTS STROLL: Nats rained out, but the NFL begins its season tonight with the Saints at Green Bay. Per the AP’s Chris Jenkins, “Hotels will be full. Schools will close early. Coolers will be stocked and grills will be sizzling as a presidential speech goes largely ignored. As Kid Rock warms up for a pregame concert, there will be no doubt that a bigger-than-big game is hitting the NFL's smallest market.”

POLITICO BLINK: “Rep. Michele Bachmann still hasn’t won over any converts among her presidential rivals with her pledge to get gas prices below $2 a gallon. At Wednesday's POLITICO/NBC Republican presidential debate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman splashed the biggest bucket of cold water on the idea. "Of course not," Huntsman said when asked if Bachmann's plan was realistic. "We live in the free market economy. I'm not sure that dictating prices is going to get you anywhere."

ELSEWHERE: Per the AP, “World stock markets posted modest gains Thursday, although uncertainty about the health of the global economy kept investor enthusiasm in check ahead of President Barack Obama's jobs speech. Benchmark oil fell below $89 a barrel while the dollar strengthened against the euro and the yen.”

--Skip Wood