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NYT: ‘Mr. President, Say This on Tuesday Night’

Author: Michael Shear, New York Times
January 21, 2011


With four days until President Obama gives his State of the Union address, interest groups have buried the White House with a barrage of unsolicited advice about what they want him to say.

The suggestions come from all quarters — the Mr. Obama's liberal supporters who are already suspicious of his commitment to their causes, the conservative activists who oppose his policies and independent groups who are urging compromise and conciliation.

Gun control groups want the president to call for restrictions on the size of high capacity ammunition clips. Gay rights organizations say he should talk about bullying aimed at homosexuals. Think tanks believe he should focus on the nation's debt. Tea Party groups hope he will endorse a repeal of his health care overhaul.

Aides to Mr. Obama remained largely silent on which of those, if any, are likely to make it into the president's address, which he will give Tuesday night in front of a joint session of Congress.

“The State of the Union is an annual occasion to get a mountain of advice both public and private on what to include in the speech,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the president's communications director. “A lot ends up on the cutting room floor, but getting all the ideas and sifting through them is a very constructive process.”

The Caucus asked more than 20 interest groups in Washington what advice they are giving the president, either in public or in private. Here's a sampling of their responses:

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