President Obama Says Final State of the Union Address Will Spotlight Legacy, Optimism

PHOTO: President Barack Obama addresses American Universitys School of International Service in Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. Pete Marovich/Bloomberg/Pool/Getty Images
President Barack Obama addresses American University's School of International Service in Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015.

President Obama says his final State of the Union address will spotlight the achievements of his presidency and lay out a sweeping, optimistic vision for the future.

"What I want to focus on in this State of the Union is not just the remarkable progress we’ve made, not just what I want to get done in the year ahead, but what we all need to do together in the years to come: The big things that will guarantee an even stronger, better, more prosperous America for our kids," Obama says in a YouTube video released by the White House previewing the speech.

"I don’t think I’ve ever been more optimistic about a year ahead than I am right now," he says.

Top Obama aides have said this year's address will be "non-traditional." Instead of outlining a long list of legislative to-do’s, the president is expected to use the nationally-televised platform to take a big-picture approach to frame the issues the country faces and his legacy.

The State of the Union, set for next Tuesday, Jan. 12, marks the beginning of Obama's farewell from office. While the 2016 presidential election may not be explicitly mentioned in the speech, the White House has signaled that it will effectively set the tone for Democrats’ overarching campaign message.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in an email to the White House listserv that Obama will tout the December budget agreement, Iran nuclear deal, improved relations with Cuba, global climate change agreement and the dwindling unemployment rate as signature achievements at risk if a Republican wins the presidency in November.

"Together, as a nation, we face some critical choices," McDonough writes. "If we make the right ones that build on the best of what our nation has to offer, we will leave our kids and grandkids an America that's never been stronger, fairer, and more prosperous."