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

  • Trump stands to personally benefit from his own tax plan

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Among the likely winners in President Donald Trump's tax-cut plan would be a real estate developer turned reality TV star who now happens to occupy the White House. The one-page proposal released Wednesday seems sure to benefit the president's businesses. Source
  • Kevin O’Leary says he tried to convince Maxime Bernier to quit Conservative race

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Kevin O’Leary may be gone from the Conservative leadership race, but he doesn’t intend to let himself be forgotten. Instead, the reality TV star and businessman said merger talks were held Thursday between his campaign and Maxime Bernier’s to solidify a plan for the pair to work together between now and May 27, when the new leader is chosen. Source
  • U.K. anti-terror police detain man with knives near Parliament

    World News CBC News
    Armed police carrying out a counterterrorism operation Thursday swooped in on a man they said was carrying knives in a bag near Britain's Parliament and arrested him on suspicion of planning an attack. A European security official familiar with the individual said the suspect was known to British security agencies and was thought to have been inspired by ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). Source
  • Five things to know about the Ontario budget delivered Thursday

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario's Liberal government delivered its first balanced budget in a decade on Thursday. Here are five things you need to know about the financial plan: POLITICAL CONTEXT: The $141-billion budget -- which includes measures aimed at youth, seniors, parents, homeowners and anyone who uses the health-care system -- comes as the provincial Liberals prepare for next year's election campaign. Source
  • Ontario budget 2017: Health-care spending up as budget hits balance

    Canada News CBC News
    The Ontario government is celebrating getting the books back to balance with significant investments in health care, including a youth pharmacare program, as detailed in the spring budget unveiled Thursday in Toronto. The governing Liberals have fulfilled their pledge to return to black ink by 2017-18. Source
  • U.S. man claims mouse in Coca-Cola can forced him to miss work

    World News CTV News
    MITCHELL, S.D. -- A South Dakota man who claims to have found a mouse in a can of soda is suing Coca-Cola Co., saying he missed 60 hours of work and accumulated $1,000 in medical bills after becoming ill. Source
  • Christy Clark says all Canadians involved in U.S. softwood offer balked

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's Liberal leader says everyone involved in a potential softwood lumber agreement said No when the United States offered a "lousy" deal that would have cost her province 20,000 forestry jobs. Christy Clark said talks with former president Barack Obama ended because of opposition by the prime minister, the international trade minister and lumber employers in B.C. Source
  • Kevin O'Leary met with Andrew Scheer before backing Maxime Bernier

    Canada News CBC News
    Kevin O'Leary praised Maxime Bernier on Wednesday as the candidate who best "mirrors" his policies, but CBC News has learned the reality TV star also held talks with another Conservative leadership candidate the night before. O'Leary had an extensive face-to-face meeting with Andrew Scheer in Toronto on Tuesday night. Source
  • Two Canadian border agents charged with drug smuggling

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Two Canadian border agents are among five people arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling. RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency say the agents worked out of Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Authorities allege the pair facilitated the importation of more than 30 kilograms of cocaine between January last year and April this year. Source
  • Another court delay for 2 men accused of assaulting Dennis Oland in prison

    Canada News CTV News
    MIRAMICHI, N.B. -- The case of two Halifax men charged with assaulting Dennis Oland in a New Brunswick prison has been delayed yet again. Convicted killer Cody Alexander Muise and Aaron Marriott, who was convicted in a 2008 drug shooting, allegedly attacked Oland at Atlantic Institution in Renous, N.B. Source