US President Barack Obama has promised his final State of the Union address next week will focus on issues “beyond the next election” and skip the traditional list of the year’s legislative goals.
Facing an ultra-hostile Republican-controlled Congress with its attention fixed on the 2016 election, Obama released a video message yesterday promising the address will break with tradition.
Sitting on his Oval Office desk, with his jacket off and shirt sleeves rolled up, Obama said the annual Washington prime-time showpiece will focus on “what we all need to do together in the years to come — the big things that will guarantee an even stronger, better, more prosperous America for our kids.”
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough indicated Obama will draw a contrast between now and his first State of the Union, when the country was mired in the Great Recession.
“We still have work to do, but there’s no question: Together, we’ve brought America back,” McDonough said in an email message.
“But what we have left to do is bigger than any one policy initiative or new bill in Congress. This is about who we are, where we’re headed, and what kind of country we want to be.”
Republicans have announced that charismatic South Carolina governor Nikki Haley — who Obama has praised and who is a frequently named as a possible vice-presidential candidate — will offer the party’s rebuttal.