Watch PBS NewsHour coverage of the 2016 State of the Union address, 9 p.m. EST Jan. 12.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says his final State of the Union address will focus on the “big things” he thinks will make the country stronger and more prosperous.
At the risk of echoing leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again,” the White House on Wednesday released a brief video of Obama in a dress shirt and tie, perched at the edge of his Oval Office desk and casually talking about his vision for the speech he’ll deliver from the Capitol next Tuesday night.
“Since I took office seven years ago, in the midst of crisis, I don’t think I’ve ever been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am right now,” he says. Obama notes that he’s busy working on the speech but says he keeps thinking about the people he’s met as president, the stories they’ve shared with him and the things they’ve done to “make change happen.”
He says what’s great about America is its capacity to “change for the better, our ability to come together as one American family.”
“It’s hard to see sometimes in the day-to-day noise of Washington, but it is who we are, and it is what I want to focus on in this State of the Union address,” Obama says. “Not just the remarkable progress we’ve made, not just what I want to get done in the year ahead, but 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, the America we believe in.”
He offered no clues about the “big things” on his mind. But in a note accompanying the video, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough lists some of the positive developments that Obama is likely to highlight in the address. Among them are a recent, long-term budget agreement with Congress, the Iran nuclear deal and the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Increased domestic oil production, improved high school graduation rates, lower unemployment and increased access to health insurance are also mentioned.
The White House previously said Obama will deliver a “non-traditional” State of the Union speech that omits the usual legislative wish list, reflecting the reality and the limits on his final year in office. Much of what the White House and the Republican-led Congress could realistically achieve in an election year is already in motion, including discussions on criminal justice reform.
McDonough also announced that he finally decided to “get in on the fun” by joining Twitter, as @Denis44.
By Darlene Superville, Associated Press