Obama's last State of the Union to focus on legacy, future


POOL IMAGEMANDEL NGAN/ap

With no looming reelection, Obama will have the rare opportunity to speak almost entirely from the heart.

Yes he did.

President Obama will use his seventh and final State of the Union address Tuesday to reflect on his time in office, the change he has delivered, and his hopes for the future.

With no looming reelection, Obama will have the rare opportunity to speak almost entirely from the heart and emphasize issues that resonate with him, such as gun control, criminal justice reform and immigration, as he begins shaping his own post-presidency legacy.

Despite his lame duck status, the president is optimistic, according to advisers. There are still a number of initiatives that Obama hopes Congress and the American people will rally behind.

Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address on Tuesday.Evan Vucci/AP

Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Advisers who met with Obama as he readied his recent executive actions on gun control said the President gave this guidance: “Everything this year should be infused with a sense of possibility” and “don’t take the foot off the gas pedal.”

In a YouTube video released last week, Obama gave viewers a taste of what’s to come in the highly anticipated address, with a confident message that centered on the progress made during his tenure and his hope for the future.

“Since I took office seven years ago, in the midst of crisis, I don’t think I have ever been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am right now,” Obama said in the two-minute spot, before reflecting on the past.

Obama is likely to highlight his biggest, and, not coincidentally, his most controversial, accomplishments, including the enactment of Obamacare.J. Scott Applewhite/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama is likely to highlight his biggest, and, not coincidentally, his most controversial, accomplishments, including the enactment of Obamacare.

“The people I’ve met, the stories that you’ve shared, the remarkable things you’ve done to make change happen to recover from crisis and set this country on a better, strong course for tomorrow,” he said. “That’s what makes America great. Our capacity to change for the better. Our ability to come together as one American family and pull ourselves closer to the America we believe in,”

Obama is likely to deliver a staunch defense of his record and highlight his biggest, and, not coincidentally, his most controversial, accomplishments — the enactment of Obamacare, the killing of Osama bin Laden, the resuscitation of the economy, the Iran nuclear deal, and the ushering in of an era of equal rights to marriage for gay couples — as he publicly contemplates his legacy.

Over the past year alone, Obama has reached a nuclear deal with Iran, relaunched diplomatic relations with Cuba, secured a global climate pact and an Asia-Pacific trade deal, and negotiated a budget deal with the Republican-led Congress. Unemployment has fallen to 5% and renewed confidence in the economy has led the Federal Reserve to start raising interest rates.

PHOTO TAKEN SEPT. 2, 2015Evan Vucci/AP

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, a potential GOP vice presidential candidate, will give her party’s official response immediately after Obama’s address.

Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, said the President planned in his speech to cite those achievements to argue that “we’ve brought America back.”

Coming one week after the emotional announcement of a slew of executive actions designed to curb gun violence in the U.S., and just days after a nationally televised town hall meeting on the topic, Obama is sure to revisit the subject with a continued defense of the measures — which many opponents on the right have blasted.

The President plans to make a powerful and somber statement by leaving an empty seat in the House chamber in honor of victims of gun violence.

In a YouTube video released last week, Obama gave viewers a taste of what’s to come in the highly anticipated address.White House/via YouTube

In a YouTube video released last week, Obama gave viewers a taste of what’s to come in the highly anticipated address.

The heated partisan rhetoric of election year politics is sure to weigh heavy on the speech as will the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups, as fears over another attack continue to linger in the aftermath of the shootings in Paris and San Bernardino.

But Obama will also push for bipartisan issues including a renewed call for criminal justice reform and approval of the Asia-Pacific trade agreement, which many Republicans support.

“If he will focus on what he agrees on with Congress instead of what we disagree on, there’s quite a bit we could get done in 2016,” Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said.

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, a potential GOP vice presidential candidate, will give her party’s official response immediately after Obama’s address. National Rifle Association honcho Wayne LaPierre also plans on issuing a rebuttal.

With News Wire Services

Tags:
barack obama ,
gun control ,
state of the union ,
nra ,
wayne lapierre ,
nikki haley ,
lamar alexander ,
congress



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