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Pollster Matt Towery: Obama SOTU Will Be 'Alice in Wonderland'

Image: Pollster Matt Towery: Obama SOTU Will Be 'Alice in Wonderland'

By    |   Saturday, 09 January 2016 06:15 PM

President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address on Tuesday — and aides are promising a "nontraditional" approach that seeks to define his presidency and legacy and what remains undone in his final year in office.

But pollster Matt Towery told Newsmax that he is expecting Obama's seventh address to be "an 'Alice in Wonderland' speech."

"What's up will be down. What's right will be left and vice versa — and it will be like going through the looking glass," Towery said in an interview. "That's what it's been in the past few years and it'll be like that again.

"The only exception being that he will take credit from some economic improvements that probably any president would have the right to take credit for and rightfully so."

President Obama entered the White House in January 2009 with an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent. The current rate, 5.6 percent for December, was reported on Friday.

"He'll highlight the economy, but the stock market is melting down right in the middle of it," Towery said. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,079 points this week, or more than 6 percent, giving the index its worst five-day start to a year in history.

"On the surface, it looks great — but on the other side, you have a lot of other folks who are scared to death right now," Towery said.

"But you have to give everybody their due," the pollster cautioned. "If this were Ronald Reagan talking about this, Republicans would be ecstatic.

"Regardless, the numbers are better — and he's going to claim those and rightfully so. You can't go without giving the man some credit on some things."

Denis McDonough, Obama's chief of staff, said the president intends to cite the economy and other achievements — ranging from the Iran nuclear deal to renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba to the Asia-Pacific trade deal to the budget deal reached with congressional Republicans — to argue that "we've brought America back."

These accomplishments may be strong on Obama's agenda, but they are not resonating with voters — so much so that outside presidential candidates like Republican Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading establishment candidates, including Democrat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Obama's speech comes just weeks before the first contest of the 2016 presidential season, the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

"It will almost seem like a disconnect with the American public," Towery told Newsmax, "because all the things he'll talk about will be things that on the polling scale, most Americans are either dubious about or simply don't like."

These include "touting the virtues" of Obamacare, despite reports of skyrocketing premiums, dwindling enrollment and imploding state co-ops that were financed with taxpayer loans, Towery said.

To highlight President Obama's call for stricter gun laws, a seat will remain empty in the House gallery during the speech to symbolize the victims of gun violence across the United States.

The move follows an Obama televised town hall meeting this week and his announcement Tuesday of several executive actions aimed at increasing gun safety.

Instead, President Obama should be discussing crime, a greater concern among Americans, Towery said.

"What they want to do is blame a gun, but you can't just blame a gun," he told Newsmax. "Crime, particularly in our bigger cities, while they will say that it's going down, in reality it's become more brutal.

"It will be about guns, not people."

Obama is also expected to underscore his administration's efforts to battle the Islamic State (or ISIL) and other terrorists, but Towery expects for the president to take a similar approach to the issue.

"It will be about ISIL, but he will say that most people are peaceful, loving folk.

"It will be an acknowledgment of problems, but the answer will always have something to do with something that doesn't really address that problem," he said. "That is his style.

"This is a president who doesn't want to leave with a whimper," Towery continued. "He wants to leave having appeared that he wants to go down fighting.

"So, you're going to hear about gun control. You're going to hear about taking in refugees — and the issues that the polls tell us that people aren't all that excited about."

President Obama will most likely reiterating his campaign pledge to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, but Republicans have fiercely battled him on the issue.

GOP lawmakers have urged the president to leave Guantanamo, guns and other contentious issues out of Tuesday's speech if he is serious about wanting to make progress before his term ends.

"He has a decision to make," said Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. "Is he going to run his last year of his presidency in a political manner or is he actually going to focus on getting stuff done?"

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander said: "If he will focus on what he agrees on with Congress instead of what we disagree on, there's quite a bit we could get done in 2016."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address on Tuesday - and aides are promising a nontraditional approach that seeks to define his presidency and legacy and what remains undone in his final year in office. But pollster Matt Towery told...
obama, state, union, preview, legacy, towery
Saturday, 09 January 2016 06:15 PM
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