where president Obama will deliver his state of the union address tonight and he's got a tough sell job ahead. The economy may be getting stronger but his approval ratings have never been lower before... See More
where president Obama will deliver his state of the union address tonight and he's got a tough sell job ahead. The economy may be getting stronger but his approval ratings have never been lower before this big speech. Jon Karl has been digging into the details. One big component, the president looking to force policy changes on his own without congress. Reporter: That's right, George. And one example the white house is announcing is on the minimum wage. Congress has not acted to raise the national minimum wage so tonight the president will announce that he is increasing by nearly $3 an hour the minimum wage on all new federal contracts acting where he can without congress. Tonight the president will try to do three big things to get the mojo back. First, show he can still inspire the nation with a little help from the guest sitting in the first lady's box. Among them Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bouman where the nation first saw last year and the photo in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing, Boston strong personified. And the president hopes to turn the page after the worst year of his presidency. That's on me. Reporter: Promising to work with congress where he can but showing there are things he can do on his own, as well. Mindful of congress' reluctance to be cooperative at times, the president is going to exercise his authority. Reporter: And the president hopes to use his speech to jump-start his economic agenda, renewing calls to expand educational opportunities, raise the minimum wage and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. Make sure that in America hard work is rewarded, responsibility is rewarded. Reporter: Among the others who will be in the first lady's box will be Gary berg, the fire chief from tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, also Jason Collins, the NBA player who became the first major pro athlete to come out as tough and antoinet Antoinette tuff and their stories highlighted in the president's speech. Okay, Jon, thanks. More from Matthew dowd and you worked for president George W. Bush in a similar position to president Obama going into his sixth year. Reporter: Almost the exact similar position, same approval ratings and same distrust on the number one issue which is the economy. It's a very difficult spot and if you think about it, George, there basically is only five moments left for this president in his presidency, this state of the union, a couple of more states of the union and a convention speech. The difficulty he has is much like a coach at a team on the super bowl who is behind at halftime. Even though he gives a great inspirational speech, he has to convince the players that they can win and then they have to follow through on play after play and so I think the speech is as important as the follow-through and the aftermath. Part of the follow-through these executive actions that Jon talked about, the one on the minimum wage, working on his own is something that worked for president bill Clinton going into his second term. Can it work for president Obama? Reporter: I think it's a two-edge sword. On one hand it can show he can get things done and people are concerned about the poor and middle class but the other part is this is a president who ran on bringing the country together and bringing the two political parties together and to me when he does this sort of thing it's going to be a stick in the eye of the republicans and it's only going to make that partisanship worsen in Washington, D.C., so it's a big two-edge sword for him. What's the single most important thing he can do tonight? I think the biggest thing he can do tonight is, one, identify how he's going to restore faith and trust in the government in Washington. That's the biggest thing lacking today. What are a few things he can do to restore faith and trust to the American people in Washington, D.C.? Matt, thanks very much.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.