News / USA

Obama Prepares for State of the Union Address

U.S. President Barack Obama is preparing for his first State of the Union address Wednesday, in which he will list his priorities for the coming year. The president will devote much of his speech to the economy.
   
With the U.S. unemployment rate at 10 percent and Mr. Obama's approval ratings down, the president is expected to send the American people a message that he is working hard to strengthen the economy.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says Mr. Obama will remind Americans that he may have prevented an economic disaster, and that he is fighting for them.

"What he will discuss more than anything is getting our economy moving again.  There were tough decisions that the president made in the first year, based on the economic situation that he faced.  He will again talk about why those decisions were made, despite the fact that they may or may not have been popular at the time," he said.

On Monday, the president told an interviewer that he would rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term one.

To counter Republicans' charges that his economic programs are too costly, the president will ask Congress to freeze some domestic government spending for three years.

The U.S. Constitution requires the president to report to Congress periodically on the state of the nation's affairs.  But presidents have used the occasion to lay out their plans and priorities for the coming year and rally public support.

Robert Gibbs says Mr. Obama sees the speech as an opportunity to talk about where he wants to lead the country. "I think he looks at the State of the Union as a time in which to update the American people on what has been done, and where we go from here, going forward.  As he said in Ohio, this is not about him, this is about what we have to do going forward for the American people," he said.

The president will also emphasize his administration's attempts to strengthen the nation's security, in the wake of a failed terrorist attack on a U.S. airliner in December.  Gibbs says the president will stress the global nature of the effort. "He will take some time to discuss the important efforts that we have made in counterterrorism, continue to discuss what we have done in our efforts, not to simply confront, in Southeast Asia, the threats of terrorism, but in Africa and in the Middle East," he said.

After the president's speech begins, computer users on the YouTube website will have a chance to submit a follow-up question.  Next week, Mr. Obama will respond online.

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