Even though Tuesday night’s address will be President Obama’s last after seven years in office, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said he’ll still focus on hope and change.
But she also insists the speech will be nontraditional.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of President Obama, but he is really looking forward as he always does to having an opportunity to speak directly to the American people, and really tell his story about his vision for America, which is a very optimistic and hopeful vision, which I know won’t surprise you,” Jarrett told MSNBC on Sunday night.
“It’s not going to be the traditional state of the union where he talks through all of the accomplishments of the prior year, and the challenges of the year ahead, so it will be much more visionary. And it’s one that he is spending a lot of his personal time working on, because as you know, it’s his last State of the Union.”
Jarrett stressed that “as we entered into the second half of the fourth quarter, the president really had a lot that he announced in terms of what we want to do to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, keep our communities safe, focus on where we can provide broader mental health services, improve the way that we do data collection to ensure again guns don’t fall into the wrong hands and work on gun technology so that we can have smart guns.”
“So he started with a big week,” his longtime confidant continued. “We had a great jobs number on Friday of 292,000 jobs, unemployment rate five percent, coming down strongly in the African-American community as well, over well over one percent in just one month although it does tend to fluctuate. So we have a lot going for us.”
Jarrett said much of the year ahead is “going to focus on criminal justice reform.”
“As you know, he gave a speech last year at the NAACP, focusing on what we can do in our community, what we can do in our courtrooms and what we can do in the cellblock to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated for overly lengthy sentences,” she said. “And once people have paid their debt to society and earn the right to re-enter we need to make it easier for them to do that.”
“We are going to focus a great deal on how we can continue to strengthen the relationship between police and the communities they serve, monitoring the implementation of the 21st century task force report — climate change is a big, big priority for the president. We want to figure out what we can do to make sure that we leave our planet in better condition for our children and our grandchildren.”
The president will call for the American people to heap pressure on Congress to pass more gun-control legislation.
“He is in the seventh year of his administration. What evidence is there that he is trying to take any law-abiding citizen’s guns away?” Jarrett said. “He just wants to make sure that everybody goes through the same background check that the law-abiding citizens who buy guns from licensed dealers do, and that it shouldn’t matter where you buy your gun.”
On the economy, she said, Obama will say “do not take your foot off the accelerator.”
“There are a lot of people out there who want work and we need to make sure that they have the training that they need, and the opportunity to work and it shouldn’t matter what your ZIP code is,” Jarrett added. “…Do everything we can to focus on how we can improve the quality of life of the American people. They’re counting on their government to work.”