Obama aims to rise above 2016 in final State of the Union – Politico


The White House will campaign for Clinton, but not in this speech.

People inside the West Wing have a vision of President Barack Obama’s 2016: he’ll take on the role that Bill Clinton played for him in 2012, the elder statesman and battering ram, laying out a fact- and figure-based case for why Democratic governing gets better results than Republican promises.

That’s coming, aides say. But not on Tuesday.

The closest Obama’s going to come to 2016 politics in his State of the Union is setting the grand vision and offering an optimistic, aspirational contrast to the doomsday at-the-barricades mentality that’s dominating the GOP primary race.

In what will likely be his final night with all the national attention focused on him, Obama’s taking a last shot at telling America what he thinks it can be, and trying to brand the future.

It won’t be a recap of his presidency, nor will Obama make the case for the third term that Clinton’s been insisting on the trail she doesn’t want. He also won’t spend much time talking up the good parts of his record to push back on what Republicans call the failed Obama-Clinton economy and foreign policy.

A speech like that, close Clinton allies say, would have been welcomed, and it would have reassured Democrats who are nervous that Obama doesn’t intend to throw himself into securing the White House for his party. Privately, some say they’re frustrated that Obama is promising a more aspirational speech when they’re focused on the nuts-and-bolts of winning an election.

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