Watch President Obama’s Final State of the Union Address Here
Tuesday night will mark the last time President Obama travels to Capitol Hill to address both houses of Congress for his annual State of the Union address. Aides have announced that the speech will focus mainly on the president's optimistic outlook about America's future, along with a look back at his administration's achievements.
The speech is set to begin at about 9 p.m. ET (the above live-stream video will start at 8:35) in the House of Representatives. Though Obama will not directly address the ongoing presidential campaigns, he will cover multiple topics that have dominated the various debates held thus far, including immigration, gun violence, ISIS and the state of the economy.
In doing so, he hopes to draw a contrast with what he sees as an excessively pessimistic view of life in America being presented by Republicans running for their parties 2016 presidential nomination, like Donald Trump, Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. Asked recently about the campaign rhetoric of Trump, Obama responded, "I’m pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of Americans are looking for the kind of politics that does feed our hopes and not our fears, that does work together and doesn’t try to divide us, that isn’t looking for simplistic solutions and scapegoating."
Unlike previous State of the Union addresses, this one will not offer a list of upcoming policy goals. It is Obama's final year in office, and with each party's electoral campaigns in full swing heading into next month's Iowa caucuses, the chances of getting any major legislation passed in 2016 are slim at best -- particular with the GOP controlling both houses of Congress. However, that does not mean that the speech will look only to the past.
The president will look to shape the direction of his successor's administration, focusing on America's role as a global leader economically, militarily and diplomatically. Expect to hear about the millions of jobs added since the end of the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent recession, the unemployment rate being down to 5 percent (from a high of more than 10 percent), the massive gains in the stock market since 2009 and more of what the president sees as evidence of America's economic improvement under his watch.
The response to the State of the Union will come shortly after the president wraps up. Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina will give the speech, which will offer a counterpoint to President Obama's assessment of the country's current state. “This is a time of great challenges for our country, but also of great opportunities," Haley said regarding her opportunity. "I intend to speak about both.”