State of the Union: Watch Barack Obama deliver his final address to Congress

Mr Obama will say the US has a positive future - despite threats from terrorism and inequality

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Wednesday 13 January 2016 02:09 GMT
Mr Obama will be making his final State of the Union address
Mr Obama will be making his final State of the Union address (AP)

On seven previous occasions, President Barack Obama has, as required by the US Constitution, updated Congress on the “state of the union”.

On Tuesday evening, Mr Obama will make his eighth and final address, where he will outline an agenda for his final year in office and paint an optimistic vision about the nation’s future despite recurring worries about immigration, jobs and the threat of terrorism.

The speech to a joint session of Congress will be one of Ms Obama's few remaining chances to capture and hold the attention of millions of Americans before he is eclipsed by his would-be successors competing to win November’s presidential election.

This will be Mr Obama's eight and final such address to Congress
This will be Mr Obama's eight and final such address to Congress (AP)

The Associated Press said that politics will loom over his address. He is expected to stick to themes which he hopes will define his legacy and steer clear of new legislative proposals that his fellow Democrats on the presidential campaign are talking about.

Reports suggest that among the themes will be Pacific trade pact, tighter gun laws and closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison.

In an interview aired on Tuesday, Mr Obama took a swipe at Republican candidate Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, where he has derided illegal immigrants.

“I’m pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of Americans are looking for the kind of politics that does feed our hopes and not our fears, that does work together and doesn’t try to divide us, that isn't looking for simplistic solutions and scapegoating,” he said.

Asked whether he could imagine Mr Trump as president giving his own State of the Union address, Mr Obama said: “I can imagine it in a Saturday Night [Live] skit…But anything’s possible. And I think, you know, we shouldn't be complacent.”

After the midterm elections of 2014, many believed Mr Obama would be unable to break the Republican's legislative grip in Congress.

Yet the last 12 months have seen him score a series of successes, that many may not have believed possible. Among these was the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriage in all the US states, a potentially historic nuclear deal with Iran, a climate change agreement in Paris, the Trans Pacific Partnership that Mr Obama will help the US economy and, most recently, his announcement of a series of executive orders that will modestly restrict access to weapons.

The White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, on Monday blamed an “avalanche of negativity” from Republican candidates for polls that show many Americans see the country as on the wrong track.

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