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News Analysis: Obama under pressure to hit home run in State of Union speech

English.news.cn   2014-01-24 14:25:50

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama is under pressure to win back confidence of his supporters in next week's State of the Union address amid dwindling approval numbers, experts said.

"He's going to need a great speech to energize the Democratic base," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua, adding that Obama needs to get his numbers up in the lead-up to the 2014 Congressional elections or Democrats could face serious problems.

Obama averaged 45.8 percent job approval during his fifth year in office, down more than two percentage points from his fourth-year average, and only slightly better than his career-low of 44.4 percent in his third year, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this week.

His most recent quarterly average is even lower, at 41.2 percent, the poll showed.

Obama's numbers have fallen on the troubled rollout of his signature healthcare overhaul, or Obamacare. The plan's centerpiece website, where visitors can sign up for health insurance plans, has been bedeviled by numerous technical glitches since its Oct. 1 launch, and experts said the site is an easy target for hackers.

The world's largest economy is also seeing its lowest workforce participation rate in decades, and White House watchers said next week's speech in some ways will serve as a pep rally to energize his Democratic base amid a still recovering economy.

"One of the things he's going to have to do is try to convince people that he has a plan to make this recovery recover faster," O'Connell said, adding that the president is likely to remind viewers of what he perceives as the positive parts of Obamacare, such as new rules on pre-existing conditions.

Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Obama will use the speech to set the agenda ahead of the Congressional elections, and is likely to focus on issues such as raising the minimum wage, over which Democrats and Republicans are at odds.

"Highlighting differences between the parties will help position Democrats for the November elections," he said.

Obama will also explain why he believes there needs to be a policy response that helps those at the bottom of the economic ladder, West added.

"He has to make the case so that his base thinks that he is fighting for them. That is how he won the 2012 election and he needs to keep that in mind in the lead-up to his televised address," he said.

Editor: Yamei Wang
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