Next week, President Obama will stand before a joint session of Congress and deliver remarks on the state of the union—and he’s bringing some friends along for the ride.

From the President’s weekly address cum SOTU preview:

“Every day, we get thousands of letters and emails at the White House from Americans across the country, and every night, I read ten of them. They tell me about their hopes and their worries, their hardships and successes. They’re the Americans I’m working for every day, and this year, several of these letter writers will join me at the Capitol when I deliver my annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night.”

Their stories sound like anything a comms shop could dream up given 30 minutes and a pot of coffee, but they’re effective nonetheless. With the help of a small business loan, their business exploded, and everyone got a wage increase! Our policies made paying back their student loans easier, and they didn’t default!


This is a tactic we’ve seen politicians on both sides of the aisle use to gin up support from a flagging base; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but whichever way the needle eventually falls it’s a safe bet for a speech not exclusive to one particular demographic.

I wrote earlier that the 2016 Republican primary cycle started exactly 5 minutes before anyone first mentioned the 2016 Republican primary cycle. If Obama is smart, the populist tack he took in his SOTU preview will serve as a signal to his own party that it’s time to start reconnecting with the base they lost touch with so thoroughly in 2014.

Candidates like Rick Perry and Scott Walker have already come out of the gate with a messaging scheme that focuses less on the party divide and more on what matters to every American—a bright American future untouched by big government incompetence or divisive racial and socioeconomic politics.

Democratic candidates already tried the blame-game end of the populist politics spectrum—that’s the mistake that served up the House and Senate for Republicans. If Democrats want to win in 2016, this “trot out the success stories” strategy is one of the few options they have left.

This weekly address will be the first in a long line of defensive hits against a resurgent Republican party, and it won’t be the last time we see the President trying to appeal to the emotions of those who haven’t paid a great deal of attention to how their lives have changed for the worst during his tenure as President.


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