President Obama will call for a country in which all Americans have a “fair shot” and a “fair shake” in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, White House aides told reporters on Monday, invoking populist rhetoric that Obama is also likely to use on the campaign trail later this year.
In a shift from his 2011 speech, which was heavy on bi-partisanship and non-controversial issues like American innovation and competitiveness, Obama’s language will link him more closely to the tone liberal Democrats have taken against congressional Republicans over the last year, drawing a contrast between the middle class and the wealthy.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, White House aides emphasized Obama would detail how he would create a middle class that is “built to last.”
“Growth should be for the many, not just the few,” said Gene Sperling, the president’s top economic adviser.
White House aides said the speech would have four main pillars: manufacturing, energy, training for workers and “values,” such as fairness and responsibility. They would not detail the specific proposals. The overall theme of the speech is “A Blueprint for an America That Is Built to Last.”
The aides said Obama would not directly mention the Republican candidates or the campaign, instead using the speech to offer his vision for policy over the next year.
They said many of the ideas in the speech would resemble what Obama said December in a speech in Osawatomie, Kansas that was applauded even by some liberals who are usually frustrated by the president.
“I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren’t Democratic values or Republican values. These aren’t 1 percent values or 99 percent values. They’re American values. And we have to reclaim them,” he said.
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