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President Barack Obama delivers his second state of the union address on Captitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 27, 2010. ((Charles Dharapak/Associated Press))

While Barack Obama and his speechwriters have spent hours carefully honing the words he will deliver in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night, there is also no shortage of advice for him outside the White House.

Pundits and politicians alike haven't been shy about offering suggestions for what the U.S. president should say in his third state of the union address.

Here is a collection of comments circulating in the American media since Sunday.


From a New York Times editorial, Jan. 23, 2011.

"The top of his agenda should be explaining to the public why job creation and growth are more important than short-term spending cuts, and why those two paths are incompatible.

"Now is the time for a full-throated statement about the need for federal investment in infrastructure, education and state aid. He should capitalize on his new team of business-oriented advisers to explain which industries he believes will provide the jobs, and show what he is prepared to do to foster that growth…

"Beyond the usual laundry list, however, the president will have to balance inspiration — the kind Americans saw in abundance in his Tucson remarks — with feisty confidence in his fundamental principles.

"The midterm election showed how strongly voters hungered for lost leadership on the economy. Mr. Obama has it within him to stand up to the forces of governmental destruction and begin restoring confidence in his leadership."


Independent Senator Joe Lieberman, on ABC's This Week, on Jan. 23, 2011.

"So I think the mood of the state of the union has to be both unifying and confident, optimistic that we can do things if we work together. I think the main focus really has to be on, how do you keep growing jobs and at the same time deal with the biggest long-term threat to America's strength and our economy, and that is the debt."


Michael Waldman, executive director, Brennan Center for Justice, and former director of speechwriting for President Bill Clinton, on CNN.com, Jan. 24, 2011.

"Most important: he must set out a compelling economic strategy, for jobs now and growth in the future.  In doing this, he will have to spell out a role for government far more explicitly and coherently than he has. 

"In some areas, he will reach out to the GOP; in others, he will draw sharp lines. But all must be in service of a compelling, aspirational economic framework."


Conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin, blogging in the Washington Post on Jan. 24, 2011.

"So, for the state of the union address, Obama should unequivocally state that we stand with the people of Tunisia, Iran, Russia, China and Egypt, as well as those who now enjoy the freedoms ushered in by democratic governments in Colombia, Eastern Europe and Central America.

"You see, hope and change doesn't stop at the water's edge. Dictators are headed for the ash heap of history, but we are with those oppressed and newly freed people who seek that most universal of human desires — freedom."


Dennis Henigan, vice-president of the Brady Centre to Prevent Gun Violence, blogging on the Huffington Post on Jan. 24, 2011.

"In his state of the union speech tomorrow night, he needs to talk about guns …

"President Obama will hear that any reform of our gun laws simply won't happen in this Congress. This is the futility argument, and it's self-fulfilling.

"If the President fails to exercise leadership because he thinks he cannot succeed, then he cannot succeed.

"For every major piece of progressive legislation enacted into law, there likely was a time when its prospects seemed doomed. But events change minds. Arguments change minds. Demonstrations of political courage, Mr. President, change minds."


Retired Democratic senator Gary Hart, blogging on The Huffington Post, Jan. 24, 2011.

"Beyond the predictable, however, a few of us would like to hear something else. A reminder of the principles upon which our nation was founded. The ideals of self-reliance, but also of community.

"Beneath the strains of more government-less government, more spending-less spending, leave-me-alone versus the commonwealth, lies the deeper question: what kind of society do we want?"