Addressing a divided nation amid a determined GOP campaign to take his job, President Barack Obama is preparing to issue a populist cry for economic fairness as he aims to corral the sympathies of middle class voters 10 months before election day.
Obama delivers his third State of the Union address Tuesday in a capital and country shot through with politics, with his re-election campaign well under way and his potential GOP opponents lobbing attacks against him daily as they scrap for the right to take him on.
Senior political adviser David Plouffe said Tuesday morning the president is "happy to have a debate" about his performance. Asked in an interview about Republican candidate Newt Gingrich's description of Obama as the "food stamp president," Plouffe replied, "It's a cheap applause line for the Republican base."
What do Americans want to hear from the President?
Audrey Peterman is a 60-year-old author from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She says global climate change is a big concern for everyone living in coastal areas. But she believes the biggest issue the President should address is bringing the country together.
"I'd love to see the President... celebrate that the U.S. has created all this opportunity... because of what's going on in technology. And we should... try and figure out how to make it better."Bijan Sabet, venture capitalist
"The country is in a real low, a real slump," Peterman said. "So he has to draw the country together by showing that we are one America," she said.
28-year-old Ben Brown of Brooklyn, NY recently sold his company, Makemesustainable.com. The site helps organizations track and reduce their carbon footprints. Brown says he would like to see a renewed commitment towards alternative energy.
Brown says the country needs an energy program that will encourage investment in green jobs by imposing higher taxes on natural gas and oil.
42-year-old Bijan Sabet is a venture capitalist with Spark Capital in the Boston area. Sabet invests in high tech companies like Twitter and Tumblr, and says that despite the down economy, the high tech industry is going gangbusters.
"I'd love to see the President really shine a light and celebrate that the U.S. has created all this opportunity and all these jobs because of what's going on in technology." Sabet said. "And we should talk about that and embrace it and try and figure out how to make it better," he said.
Trey Lam, a farmer and rancher in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma tells us that after barely making it through the harshest drought in recent history he wants the president to make sure the government continues its commitment to subsidized crop insurance and water and soil conservation programs. He also wants the president and Congress to put aside their differences and be it farm bill, a jobs bill or whatever - pass some meaningful legislation.
"They're all, I don't know, angry or confrontational and that's not the way people expected them to govern. That's not what they were elected to do."
Here & Now Community Weighs In
We asked on our Facebook page what you want to hear from the president tonight.
Stephen Mattingly writes that he wants to hear the president talk about " lowering the debt. It is the most important thing for this country."
Penelope Mckibben says she wants the president to "declare his full support" for same-sex marriage.
But Lucas Friedlaender has something else in mind, he says "I want to hear more Al Greene from Obama."
(The president sang Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater in New York last week.)
The President makes his address to a joint session of Congress at 9 p.m. eastern Tuesday night.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.
This segment aired on January 24, 2012.