But we want to move onto the state of the union. The president's focus will include jobs and gun violence in america, even as the drama is playing out on the west coast. Let's go straight to abc's... See More
But we want to move onto the state of the union. The president's focus will include jobs and gun violence in america, even as the drama is playing out on the west coast. Let's go straight to abc's chief white house correspondent jonathan karl on that. Jon? Reporter: Diane, well, the bulk of the speech will be on the economy. The president will say that a growing economy that creates good middle class jobs, quote, must be the north star that guides our efforts. But the emotion in that room, in that chamber, will come on the issue of gun violence, as several victims of recent mass shootings will be watching in person from the visitor's gallery. When the president gives his big speech, the visitor's gallery is usually packed with friends and family members of congress. But among the faces that will be looking down on him tonight will be those shaken by gun violence. The mother of a.J. Will be there. He was a teenager killed in the aurora movie theater shooting. A teacher shot and wounded in the sandy hook massacre wil also be there. And the motherle of gabe zimmerman, among the six people killed in the assassination attempt on gabby giffords. All told, more than 40 people with their own tragic stories will be spread throughout the chamber. I want members of congress to know that they're looking up in the gallery, seeing all the people there that are watching the president's speech that are looking at the congress and knowing that they're waiting for us to act. Reporter: It was congrethis congressman that convinced three dozen colleagues to give up their prized tickets to the state of the union to victims of gun violence. This is the effort. This is the time. If not now, when? Reporter: He has seen first hand what guns can do. He was paralyzed by an errant bullet when he was just 16. Also in the chamber will be kaitlin roig. She was the first grade teacher at sandy hook who spoke to diane sawyer just hours after the massacre about how she held her 15 students in the bathroom. I said, no, we just have to be absolutely quiet and we have -- I said, there are bad guys out there now, we need to wait for the good guys. Reporter: She will be a guest of the first lady, and sure to be mentioned in the president's speech. While the emotion will be on guns, the new proposals will be in the area of the economy and, diane, a big announcement on afghanistan in bringing u.S. Troops home. The president will announce that more than half of those now in afghanistan will be home by this time next year. Going to be a big speech tonight. I want to bring in "good morning america" co-anchor and anchor of "this week" george stephanopoulos, jon will be covering it, we will be here together. How challenging do you expect the president's tone to be? Reporter: Very. With the public approving of his general approach to creating jobs, investing in jobs right now, lowering the deficit over the long-term with a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases. And the president knows there's a big showdown coming up. These automatic across the board spending cuts kick in on march first. Government could shout down at the end of march. You talk to both sides right now, that is coming. So, the president wants to make the best case tonight. It will be confrontational. And senator rubio is going to be giving the answer from the republicans. What do you expect from that? Reporter: He's a rising star in the republican party. Already talked about as a possible presidential pick in He will also focus on the middle class and say that economic growth is the best way to do that but disagree with the way the president does it. Look for him to personalize this, talk about his family. One place where there may be common ground, immigration reform. The president and senator rubio are quite close on immigration reform and both believe it can be done this year. All right, well, george and i, as I said, and jonathan karl, will be right here starting at 9:00 p.M. Eastern for this big event. These dueling speeches tonight. And we hope you will be joining us then.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.