- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2012

President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night will build on the populist economic messages he has been hammering home in speeches across the country in recent weeks as part of the administration’s effort to lay the foundation for his re-election campaign.

The White House has offered few policy details about the contents of the speech, but the president’s spokesman said Monday that it would focus on four main pillars — energy, manufacturing, skills for American workers and American values.

In the three days after the speech, the president will travel to the swing states of Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan that Mr. Obama hopes to win in November.

Over the weekend, he previewed a video of the speech online to 10 million supporters. In the video, the president described the address as a “bookend” to remarks he made in Kansas last month. That speech invoked the policies of Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1901 to 1909 and is perhaps best known for cracking down on some of the country’s biggest business monopolies.

Mr. Obama will focus his remarks on “building a country and an economy where we reward hard work and responsibility, where everyone does their fair share and everyone is held accountable for what they do,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday. He will be “laying out a blueprint for an America built to last.”

It remains unclear whether the president will focus on a different pillar each day, but the White House said his speech in Iowa will be held at Conveyor Engineering & Manufacturing, a steel conveyor and mixer manufacturer in Cedar Rapids.

Later Wednesday, he plans to travel to Intel Corp.’s Ocotillo Campus in Phoenix. The White House has yet to announce details of Thursday travel plans.

Mr. Carney also noted that Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will sit with Michelle Obama in the first lady’s box during the speech. Ms. Giffords, an Arizona Democrat who was shot in the head during a spree shooting in a Tuscon supermarket last year, on Sunday announced that she would resign her seat this week in order to focus on her recovery.

Republicans on Monday also began to preview their response to the president’s annual address, releasing a video highlighting that the date of the address, Jan. 24, marks 1,000 days since Senate Democrats last passed a budget.

Set to ominous background music, the video flips through a series of photos of Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Senate Democrats, and ends with the words: “More spending. Higher taxes. Fewer jobs. One thousand days without a budget.”

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who last year weighed a bid for the GOP presidential nomination before ruling out a run, will deliver the official Republican response. House Speaker John A. Boehner said the former Office of Management and Budget director’s tenure as governor was marked by a balanced budget, a AAA credit rating and recognition of Indiana by Chief Executive magazine as the sixth-best state with which to do business.

The White House also told Congress that President Obama plans to send his budget to Congress on Feb. 13, a week later than the law requires.

The delay drew fire from Congress.

Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, called it an “abdication of leadership.”

House Republicans last year powered a budget through their chamber, but Senate Democrats never put one on their chamber’s floor. The last budget that passed was in 2009, which set the stage for the health care bill’s passage in early 2010.

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