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2012 State of the Union

Taking the Stage for Reelection

photo of Peter Bell
January 20, 2012


Like his predecessors, President Obama could use his election-year State of the Union address as a launchpad for his campaign. Following a Tuesday night speech likely to mention the killing of Osama bin Laden last May and recent signs of economic progress, the president is scheduled to make appearances in five swing states. There, he’ll have the opportunity to reiterate the themes of his address. Obama’s post-address itinerary is longer than those of previous presidents. But of the last six presidents, only Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush remained in Washington on the day following their reelection year State of the Union address.

Election-year State of the Union themes that were repeated at post-address campaign events

Toledo, Ohio (Jan. 21)“Last night I had the opportunity to address the nation. I just want to assure you that I understand my most important obligation as your president is to keep this country secure and strong.”

Phoenix, Ariz. (Jan. 21) “I just want to remind everybody right quick what we have been through, just to show you how strong America is.”

Roswell, N.M. (Jan. 22)“I said in the speech the other night, two-thirds of known al Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed. We're making progress against them.”

Louisville, Ky. (Jan. 24)“I came here today to follow-up on the work of the state of the union. As I said our union is strong. In many ways, our economy is stronger than it's been in 30 years. We have the lowest combined rates of unemployment and inflation we've had in 27 years. In the last three years, there have been over 7.8 million new jobs coming into our economy."

Bush made no campaign visits following his 1992 address. In his address, he appealed for bipartisanship despite the coming elections.

Atlanta, Ga. (Jan. 26)“America is back, as I said last night, and standing tall.”

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 29)“As I said Wednesday night, America is back and standing tall.”

Carter made no campaign visits following his 1980 address, citing the hostage crisis in Iran.
Sources: Miller Center, University of Virginia; Public Papers of the Presidents; contemporary news accounts
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