President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night will not only report on how the country is doing and set his policy agenda for 2012. It will also kick off his re-election campaign by presenting his central arguments about why he deserves a second term.
Obama will remind the country of his claim that his policies at the start of his administration ended the economy's "free fall" and prevented an "absolute calamity," says a senior White House official.
He will also portray himself and fellow Democrats as defenders of the middle class while billing the Republicans as protectors of the rich and powerful corporate interests, Democratic strategists say.
The day after his speech, Obama will take his message on the road as he starts a three-day, five-state trip to the key electoral states of Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and Michigan. [Ike's Lessons for Obama.]
Republicans argue that Obama is more interested in campaigning than governing, and that he is more interested in placating his liberal base than working with congressional conservatives to find compromise.