JONATHAN WEISMANWASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will appeal to the nation for political unity in his State of the Union address Tuesday night as he turns his attention to the tasks of job creation and deficit reduction.
In a videotaped message emailed to Democratic organizers, Mr. Obama laid out the main themes of his address, which will be delivered to a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic Senate struggling for comity. He said he would focus mainly on national competitiveness, economic growth and job creation.
Mr. Obama will also talk up what he will call "responsible" deficit reduction, according to a transcript of the video address to volunteers for Organizing for America, his grass-roots political organization. Republicans have said deep and immediate deficit reduction needed to shore up the nation's finances and foster economic growth.
With a fight brewing over the federal budget, and Republicans pushing to repeal the Democratic-sponsored health care overhaul, the president will appeal for civility and unity.
Some lawmakers have pledged a new show of comity in the aftermath of the shooting rampage in Arizona that killed six and severely injured a House member, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz.). Lawmakers of different parties have pledged to sit together during Mr. Obama's speech Tuesday night, suggesting that the event will not feature the traditional sight of lawmakers from one party cheering the president from their side of the House chamber while those on the other side look on in silence.
Among those pledging to set together are Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Tom Coburn (R., Okla.); Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and Richard Durbin (D, Ill.); and Olympia Snowe (R., Maine) and Mary Landrieu (D., La.).
But the vast majority of lawmakers will be in their usual seating arrangement. Rep. Paul Broun, a conservative Republican from Georgia, on Friday called the effort to get members to mix it up "a trap."
"I already believe very firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that Democrats are proposing," Mr. Broun said on a conservative radio show. "They don't want civility. They want silence from the Republicans."
Mr. Obama will acknowledge that the composition of the Congress has changed dramatically since his last address, due to Republican gains in the November elections. The president will appeal to Republicans by talking up his compromise with Republicans that extended Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy families, his promises to trim spending and his recent pledge to toss out onerous, outdated business regulations.
In his video address, Mr. Obama echoed the famous pledge to end the era of big government that was delivered by President Bill Clinton after Republicans swept to power on Capitol Hill in 1995.
"We've got to reform government so that it's leaner and smarter for the 21st century," Mr. Obama said.