Obama expected to aim at independent voters

January 25, 2012 6:33:47 AM PST
Pres. Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday night to a nation that is anxious and worried about the economy.

The president's speech is not expected to foster much unity in the nation's capital since it's a presidential election year. Both Democrats and Republicans expect a very political speech.

Republicans have already dismissed the address as more of the same policies, but the White House says Mr. Obama will outline a blueprint for boosting the nation's middle class.

"This will be my third time hearing him speak to a joint session of Congress, and I've seen in the past promises made and never followed through on," said 11th District Congressman Adam Kinzinger, (R) Manteno.

Kinzinger and the rest of his conservative Republican tea party caucus does not expect to hear much from the president Tuesday night on which they will agree. Ten-term Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush says the likes of Kinzinger's make up the underlying reason Congress cannot seem to get anything done.

"They only have one agenda, and that agenda is to defeat Pres. Obama," said Rush.

Republican Congressman Don Manzullo from Rockford, challenged by Kinzinger in the newly-drawn Illinois 16th District, concedes that part of the contest is whether he or the younger candidate can be the most effective Obama critic.

"You can tell when somebody doesn't have the leadership skills to run a nation," said Manzullo.

Many Democrats are urging the president to point the finger Tuesday night at what they call obstructive congressional Republicans.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin expects this election year's State of the Union address to sound more like a campaign speech.

"I think the president is going to try and keep it presidential, but I'm sure those on the other side will say, 'oh, he's campaigning'. That's the way it works," said Durbin Monday.

Illinois 6th District Republican Congressman Peter Roskam, a self-described conservative, said he wants the president to take full ownership of a still-struggling economy.

"I think the best way to move forward is to acknowledge failure in the past and to move forward. That would be my best hope," he said.

But Rush says the president will not take blame for what Republicans did before Obama took office and that the president has given up on bi-partisanship for the time being.

"He's tried to appease them," said Rush. "He's tried to meet them halfway. But they don't want to meet halfway."

The divisive atmosphere on Capitol Hill is not lost on many members, some of whom will sit with members of the opposite party to try to reduce the tension. In fact, Sen. Mark Kirk planned to do that at the State of the Union before he suffered a stroke.