State of the Union begins closing chapter on Obama presidency

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President Barack Obama will deliver his final state of the union address to the country Tuesday night. (WLS)

President Barack Obama will deliver his final state of the union address to the country Tuesday night.

"This is it. Never in our lives again will we have the chance to do as much good as we do right now, and I want to make sure we maximize it," Obama said, previewing his speech in a series of social media videos.

Eight years ago, Obama campaigned promising to bring Democrats and Republicans together. He admitted Tuesday night it hasn't worked, but the president is expected to say that security and economic opportunity can't be achieved until America fixes its politics.

For Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, the speech will also be the beginning of the closing chapter on the Obama presidency, which he helped launch.

"I think about the fact eight years ago I was in Iowa trying to win the Iowa caucuses for Barack Obama and we weren't given much of a chance. And he won. It really put him on the back to becoming president of the United States," Durbin said.

"This is kind of nostalgic night when I think about where the country was when we arrived here," said David Axelrod, former presidential adviser.

David Axelrod was the architect of President Obama's first campaign and term. He says to expect talk Tuesday night of economic recovery, health care coverage for all and the fact the president still has a year to go.

"I think he's going to spend a lot of time talking about the future and where he things the county should go and I think that would be a great service, particularly when we have a campaign going on where these issues tend to get trivialized in the back and forth," Axelrod said.

"Some of the tone in the Republican Party is concerning me," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon.

Rep. Kinzinger says the GOP response on Tuesday night - and in the campaign year to come - must not be defined by the likes of Donald Trump.

"I think there's a real cost to the American people when you only focus on the negative," Kinzinger said.

There will also be symbolism in the audience Tuesday night. A chair left empty honoring victims of gun violence and at least 20 Democrats are bringing Syrian refugees as their guests. And then there's Tim Ryan, of the Man in Recovery Foundation.

"I'm the face of heroin," Ryan said.

The Naperville resident lost his son Nick to a heroin overdose and now helps others. Rep. Bill Foster invited him to spread the word.

"It can happen to anyone. Don't ever say 'not my child, we're from a good family, we go to church.' That doesn't mean anything," Ryan said.

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politicsnewspresident barack obamastate of the union2016 electionu.s. & world
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