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President Bush Set to Deliver Important Speech to American Public

U.S. President George W. Bush will lay out his vision for the year ahead when he delivers his annual state of the union address on Tuesday. As VOA's Mil Arcega reports, the speech is an important one for the president and his political party.

President Bush is set to deliver his sixth annual State of the Union address this week. Political observers say this one will be crucial for the president as he tries to get his second term agenda on track.

Jim Malone is the senior political correspondent at the Voice of America. "Don't forget, he had a rough year in 2005. His poll ratings went down because of Iraq, domestic energy prices and the response to Hurricane Katrina. The State of the Union address offers him a chance to get off on the right foot for 2006 and set the political agenda."

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows only 42 percent of Americans approve of the job the president is doing, down from 46 percent at the beginning of this year.

Democratic Party strategist James Carville expects the president's speech will gloss over recent Republican Party troubles and dwell on positive themes. "The gist of the speech tonight is, ‘things are better than you think.’ There's not a lot in that message but it may the best he has at the moment."

Conservative political commentator Bay Buchanan says the polls indicate a general discontent among Americans. And she says the president's job will be to convince them that he's listening.

"I think he has to say, ‘I understand we've got some problems. Things are good in this area and this area, but I understand we have some problems. I understand that people are getting laid off by the thousands here. We've got to address that and come up with some ideas’."

Although the president is expected to talk about some new initiatives on health care, the economy, and the use of renewable energy sources, political observers believe the president will play to his strengths and focus on issues involving national security, winning the war in Iraq and combating the emergence of Iran as a nuclear threat.

"He needs to build on these themes because 2006 is a congressional election year in the United States and it's not just for George W. Bush and his political standing,” says Mr. Malone. “He also wants to improve the political fortunes of Republicans in Congress who are looking to hold on to both the House and the Senate."

The State of the Union address is typically seen by more Americans than any other presidential address every year.