In final State of the Union, Obama aims to frame choice facing Americans in 2016 race

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address will unmistakably attempt to frame the choice facing Americans as they select his successor, doling out an optimistic vision of the country's future in contrast with what he sees as the pessimism that's pervasive in the Republican primary.

See Full Article

Obama won't directly appeal for Americans to keep the Democratic Party in the White House for a third straight term. And he won't endorse a specific candidate in the 2016 race.

But he will outline domestic and international priorities that build on steps he's taken during his two terms in office, a vision certain to be more in line with Hillary Clinton and other Democrats than the Republican presidential candidates.

"He feels very optimistic about this future," White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said. "That, by the way, is something that's a little different than some of the doom and gloom that we hear from the Republican candidates out there every day."

Tuesday's prime-time address marks a transition for Obama -- his last high-profile opportunity to speak to the public before voting in the first presidential nominating contests begins on Feb. 1 with the Iowa caucuses.

The looming election means that prospects are low for significant legislative accomplishments between the Democratic president and Republican lawmakers. Acknowledging that reality, Obama's speech will have few of the new policy proposals that typically fill the annual nationally televised presidential address to both chambers of Congress.

Obama has so far succeeded in staving off lame duck status -- largely through a series of sweeping executive orders -- the nation's attention has been drawn inevitably to the presidential contest. Still, Obama's reliance on executive powers means many of his actions could be erased by a Republican president. He's vowed to campaign aggressively for the Democratic nominee, and his administration is seen as favouring Clinton, though the president won't formally back a candidate during his party's primary.

Some presidential candidates, including Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida will be on hand for Obama's address. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent seeking the Democratic nomination, will also be present.

The president will likely tout progress on the economy, which was plunging into the depths of recession when he took office and is now humming at a more comfortable pace. He's expected to keep up his appeals for broader actions to address gun violence, reform the criminal justice system and formally approve a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade pact. He'll try to convince a public increasingly skeptical of his foreign policy stewardship that he has a handle on the volatile Middle East and is taking steps to prevent terrorism in the United States.

"There's a lot we have to get done over the course of the next year," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The pomp and pageantry of the annual nationally televised address in the House chamber will also have a splash of the gauzy nostalgia that's a hallmark of the Obama political operation. Among the guests sitting in first lady Michelle Obama's box will be Edith Childs, a South Carolina woman who first introduced Obama to the "Fired Up! Ready to go!" chant that became ubiquitous during his 2008 campaign.

But the Obamas' guests will also reflect what's likely to be left undone or incomplete when the president leaves office.

A chair in Mrs. Obama's box will be left empty to honour victims of gun violence. Despite a rash of mass shootings during his tenure, Obama has been unable to get Congress to pass gun control legislation, settling instead for more modest executive actions, including steps announced last week to expand background checks for gun purchases.

The president has also invited a refugee from war-torn Syria to attend the speech, a symbolic counter to Republicans proposing to block Syrians seeking asylum in the U.S. But the selection is also a reminder of Obama's inability to end the bloodshed in Syria, where the nearly five-year civil war has spurred a refugee crisis and created a vacuum for terrorism.

Republicans selected South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to give the opposing party's rebuttal. In another reminder of the fast-approaching election, Haley, whose parents are immigrants from India, is seen as a potential running mate for the eventual Republican nominee.

----

AP writer Nancy Benac contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • NEB warns Trans Mountain pipeline builder to stop installing mats in streams

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- The National Energy Board is issuing a stern warning to the company building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion for installing mats in streams to discourage fish from spawning where the pipeline is to be built. Source
  • Toddler who accidentally shot father dead asking 'for his daddy': Relatives

    World News Toronto Sun
    ST. LOUIS — Relatives say a St. Louis toddler who killed his sleeping father while playing with a gun has been asking “for his daddy.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that police say the two-year-old accidentally shot 27-year-old Darrion Noble in the neck Saturday afternoon. Source
  • Mounties investigating after 2 men found dead in motel room in Moosomin

    Canada News CTV News
    MOOSOMIN, Sask. -- Mounties are investigating after two men were found dead in a motel room in southeastern Saskatchewan. RCMP were called Monday to a motel on the Trans-Canada Highway in Moosomin. Two men were dead inside one of the room. Source
  • Ireland sets timeline for abortion referendum

    World News CBC News
    Ireland plans to hold a referendum next May or June on whether it should loosen some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday. Abortion has long been a divisive issue in once stridently Catholic Ireland where, after a debate elicited large street protests from both sides, a complete ban was lifted in 2013. Source
  • Man killed by swarm of bees while doing yard work

    World News Toronto Sun
    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A Massachusetts man attacked by a swarm of bees while doing yard work has died. Alison Dahl tells The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro that her husband, Eric Dahl, was blowing leaves from the lawn of their Foxborough home on Saturday afternoon when he was swarmed by bees. Source
  • U.S. slaps new sanctions on 8 North Korean banks

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- New U.S. sanctions will punish eight North Korean banks and 26 bank workers living abroad, the Trump administration announced Tuesday, in the first use of new sanctioning powers granted by U.S. President Donald Trump. Source
  • Dyson plans to make electric vehicles by 2020

    World News CBC News
    British vacuum and consumer goods giant Dyson says it plans to release a fully electric vehicle by 2020. Company founder James Dyson released the news in an email to staff that the company later made public. Source
  • Man claims to find maggots in convenience store sub wrapper

    World News Toronto Sun
    EWING, N.J. — A man claims he found maggots in a sandwich he ordered from a convenience store in New Jersey. Chris Garcia tells The Trentonian he bought a buffalo chicken cheesesteak hoagie Saturday from a Wawa store in Ewing, where he lives. Source
  • London police release all but one in subway attack investigation

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - British police have released all but one of the seven suspects they arrested over the recent attack on a London subway train. The three men released Tuesday face no further police action. Source
  • Equifax CEO resigns in wake of data breach

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Equifax CEO Richard Smith stepped down Tuesday, less than three weeks after the credit reporting agency disclosed a damaging data breach that exposed highly sensitive information for about 143 million Americans. His departure follows those of two other high-ranking executives who left in the wake of the company’s admission that hackers exploited a software flaw that it did not fix to access Social Security numbers, birthdates and other personal data that provide the keys to identify…