President Obama gave supporters a preview of his State of the Union address Saturday, outlining a strategy to "win the future" by focusing on the rebuilding of America's economy and making it more competitive in the world.
In a video sent to members of Organizing for America
, the grassroots successor to the 2008 group put together for his presidential campaign, Obama spoke of a country that was recovering from "as tough as anything we've gone through since the Great Depression," but said there was "a lot more work to do" to help the millions of Americans still reeling from the economic downturn.
The economy when I first was coming in was contracting rapidly," Obama said. "We lost millions of jobs. Businesses were shuttered and I think a lot of people were worried about the future."
"Two years later we're in a different place," he said. "An economy that was shrinking is now growing again. We've created more than a million jobs over the last year the stock market is back up and corporate profits are healthy again. So, we've made progress, but as all of you know from talking to friends and neighbors and seeing what's happening in your communities, we've still go a lot more work to do."
Obama said: "The fact of the matter is we've got millions of our fellow Americans who are out there struggling every day, don't have a job or haven't seen a raise in a long time, paycheck is shrinking at a time when costs are going up. And so, my principal focus, my number one focus, is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing and we are creating jobs, not just now but well into the future and that's what is going to be the main topic of the State of the Union."
Obama's emphasis on the economy is in sharp contrast to his priority at this time last year, which was passing health care reform. Some polls have suggested that the drive to win approval of health care, which consumed the White House and Congress for many months, cost Obama and the Democrats support at a time when unemployment was an increasing concern for many Americans.
In recent weeks, Obama has signaled in other ways his intention to focus on the economy by naming former Commerce Secretary William Daley
, who has close ties to the business community, as his new chief of staff, and tapping Jeffrey Immelt
, chairman and chief executive of General Electric, to head a presidential advisory panel on jobs and competitiveness.
Obama said in his video the country has to confront the huge deficit and debt load it has built up, but gave no further indication of his strategy for doing so, other than saying that it needed to be accomplished in a "responsible way."
He said the nation was up to the challenge of making sure the "economy is working for everybody" and increasing America's competitiveness "as long as we're willing to find common ground even as we're having some very vigorous debates."
"That's what built this country, that's what we're all about, and that's what it's going to take to win the future." he said.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took note of the signals about the direction of administration that Obama has been sending recently, saying, "The president obviously got the message from the November election ... Hiring Bill Daley ... this competitiveness appointment the other day of Jeff Immelt. All of this is an effort to kind of retool image. Look, I think that's fine. He ran as a moderate. I'd like for him to govern as a moderate."