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Obama offers glimpse of State of the Union speech

By Reuters
Saturday, January 21, 2012 13:43 EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, in the first glimpse of his keynote State of the Union address next week, said Saturday it would focus on manufacturing jobs, energy and education, alongside an election themed message for a “return to American values.”

“I’m going to lay out a blueprint for an American economy that’s built to last,” Obama said in a campaign video sent to supporters. “And most importantly, a return to American values – of fairness for all, and responsibility from all.”

A reference to values is usually political code for social and religious issues, a rallying cry for conservative Republicans who want to deny Democrat Obama a second White House term.

But the president, who delivers his annual State of the Union Address to Congress at on Tuesday night, is honing a populist message that says he fights for the middle class while trying to paint Republicans as the party for the rich.

Republicans, who hold a closely watched primary election in South Carolina on Saturday to help select their nominee to face Obama in November’s election, say he is an old-fashioned tax-and-spend liberal whose policies hurt business and jobs.

Obama gave no details, but listed American manufacturing “with more good jobs and more products stamped with Made in America,” American energy, and skills for American workers as key parts of his plans for the economy.

Although scant, this was the most information on the speech released so far by the White House.

Voters rate the economy as one of the most important factors in the upcoming lection, and while U.S. growth has picked up, it remains fragile and unemployment at 8.5 percent is still very high by historical standards.

(Reporting By Alister Bull; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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