As Donald Trump continues to dominate the political headlines – President Barack Obama appears to be preparing a response to the overall Republican characterization of the state of the country under his administration.
Senior advisor Valerie Jarrett hints that Obama’s State of the Union speech tomorrow will challenge the notion that somehow America has diminished under his leadership – a theme that Donald Trump has popularized in his presidential campaign.
“He is so optimistic about our future,” Jarrett said, before alluding to Trump. “Now a lot of people that you are hearing that would like this office – they’re not so optimistic. This is still the greatest country on earth.”
Jarrett made her remarks during a Buzzfeed “Another Round” podcast – adding that Obama’s speech would be a “very personal one.”
Trump shared the opposite view in an interview with Meet The Press hosted by Chuck Todd.
“Right now, the state of our union is a mess,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed that Obama wanted to help the American people understand that America was still great and had a great future ahead of them.
He said Obama was fully aware that the next president of the United States would have a role in keeping a country “that is as strong, that is as secure, that is as prosperous and as as fair as the United States has ever been.”
“The stake are high,” he said, referring to the next election, but added that Obama would also take a long view on the future of the country.
Obama rarely misses an opportunity to mock his Republican critics, as he has routinely challenged that notion that America is suffering under his leadership.
In an interview with National Public Radio last month, Obama indicated that Trump was merely exploiting the blue-collar fears – including from “anger, frustration, fear” of unemployed Americans and suggested that opposition to his polices was often the result of racism.
As Obama faces competing forces for attention in the political conversation, it’s likely that he will work harder than ever to deliver another dazzling “hope” speech that sparked the fire of his first campaign.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough confirmed in an interview on Sunday that Obama would try to combat the negativity of Republican candidates in his upcoming address.
“The doom and gloom that they’re pitching to the American people is both counterfactual and not consistent with what we see every day,” he said, referring to the Republican presidential candidates. “This kind of stuff appears to work for their politics but is not based on any reality.”
The message should be glaringly obvious – especially since three sitting senators are campaigning to succeed the president and will likely be in the audience.
McDonough also told Americans to expect something different from the president as he prepares his last address to both houses of the Republican led Congress.
“He’ll be talking about the future. He’ll be very optimistic. He’ll be very action-oriented,” he said on ABC News’ This Week. “But it won’t be your traditional policy speech per se.”
Obama’s unpopularity is consistent for a president in his last year of office, but the administration is determined to combat that notion. Rather than press for a list of mediocre policy proposals – as he did last year – the administration will try to signal an “optimistic” note about the future.
Earnest said that Obama was spending a considerable amount of time working on his speech including most of today.
“I know that the president, in addition to a round of golf, devoted a significant portion of his weekend to working on the speech,” he said.