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    Obama Pushes Themes of State of the Union Address

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    U.S. President Barack Obama is pushing the themes of his State of the Union address - seeking public support for his policies at a politically charged moment in Washington. 

    American presidents typically take to the road on the day after the State of the Union.   In appearances in big cities and small towns, they seek to build momentum for the policies and programs outlined in the annual address to Congress and the nation.

    Thank you everybody! Hello Tampa!," said President Obama.

    For President Obama, that meant a trip to Tampa, Florida where he made informal remarks and took questions at a local university.

    He repeated the twin themes of the State of the Union, underscoring his determination to rebuild the economy, while at the same time overcoming "a deficit of trust in Washington."

    "We are not going to rest until we have rebuilt an economy in which hard work and responsibility are rewarded and businesses are hiring again and wages are growing again and the middle class can get its legs underneath it again!," said Mr. Obama.

    The president stressed creating jobs is his number one priority for 2010.   And he focused on one effort in particular - a government program to invest $8 billion in start-up funds for high-speed rail projects around the country.   One of the first lines will link Tampa with other Florida cities - creating  new construction jobs while providing modern, more efficient infrastructure.

    "We want to start looking deep into the 21st century," said President Obama. "And we want to say to ourselves there is no reason why other countries can build high-speed rail lines and we can't!  And that is what is about to happen right here in Tampa!"

    Most of the questions Mr. Obama faced during his appearance at the University of Tampa dealt with the economy and related issues.   But there was also an impassioned plea from a young woman for progress in the Middle East peace process and help for the Palestinian people.

    The president did not refer to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute during his State of the Union address.  But in Tampa he spoke at some length about the long, complicated search for peace.  He talked about America's links to Israel, but added the United States must pay attention to the plight of the Palestinians.

    "We have got to recognize that both the Palestinian people and Israelis have legitimate aspirations and they can be best served if the United States is helping them understand each other, as opposed to demonizing each other," said Mr. Obama.

    On Friday, the president will continue his post-State of the Union push with a series of appearances in Baltimore, Maryland.   He will promote his policies to help small businesses, and will also address a gathering of Republican members of the House of Representatives.
     

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