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Washington Gears Up for Obama's Last State of the Union Address

  • VOA Staff

"America can do anything,” President Barack Obama said Saturday, previewing a theme of his final State of the Union address this week.

The president and his Republican critics will differ in assessing the past seven years and clash on what the United States needs going forward. Obama sees progress made and a stronger foundation on which to build.

“Our businesses are now on a 70-month streak of job creation, with more than 14 million new jobs in all,” the president said. “We’ve made historic investments in clean energy and put ourselves on a path to a low-carbon future. We’ve brought more than 17 million Americans into our health care system.”

Republican criticism

Republicans have long dismissed Obama’s economic record as underwhelming at best, and will continue to do so.

“What we really need to hear about is how he [Obama] will unleash the creativity and the drive of the American people,” Senator John Hoeven said Saturday. “As Republicans, we want to empower our great people and country to compete and win.”

“The president is going to talk about the future and try to paint a rosy picture where one does not exist,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, on ABC’s This Week program. “What we’d love to hear from the president is a real plan to defeat ISIL.”

Eye on future goals

White House officials say Obama will do more than trumpet his administration’s accomplishments.

"He will be talking about the future,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on This Week. “He will be very optimistic. He will be very action-oriented.”

“He doesn’t want this to be your traditional policy speech that outlines a series of proposals. We’ll have a lot of policy during the course of this year. Rather, he wanted to take a step back and look at the future of this country, the challenges we are going through,” added McDonough, who has been at the president’s side during the crafting of Tuesday’s address.

The Republican response will be delivered by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, an Indian-American and a rising star in the party many expect will be considered as a potential vice presidential nominee.