Tuesday night, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will deliver the Republican rebuttal -- but the debate over Mr. Obama's stewardship of the nation doesn't end there.
The Republican party is running ads today in key electoral states slamming the president for failing to revive the economy. Mr. Obama, meanwhile, will embark on Wednesday on a three-day trip to other key states to promote the themes he'll address in his speech.
In his speech tonight, Mr. Obama will discuss "the central mission we have as a country, and my central focus as president," which he describes as "rebuilding an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded."
The Republican National Committee is running an ad today and tomorrow charging that the president has failed in that mission, and has instead helped political allies through investments in companies like Solyndra. The 30-second spot uses footage of Mr. Obama saying in a 2011 interview that Americans aren't better off than they were four years ago, as well as footage of President Bill Clinton saying, "Things are not going in the right direction, they're going in the wrong direction."
The ad will run on cable stations in Washington, D.C. as well as broadcast in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Norfolk, Va.; and Charlotte, N.C. Virginia and North Carolina are key states in Mr. Obama's path to victory, and he could be vulnerable in Michigan.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters Tuesday that those three states are must-wins for the president, but "they're also places he is unpopular right now and on defense, and our goal is to keep him on defense."
Whether it's offense or defense, the president certainly won't be letting up in those states. This week he travels to five key states, including Michigan, to continue addressing issues that will make up the main pillars of his address: manufacturing, energy, and skills and innovation.
Mr. Obama's first stops will be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Phoenix, Arizona -- two swing states -- to focus on domestic manufacturing. On Thursday, he visits Las Vegas, Nevada and Denver, Colorado (again, swing states) to discuss domestic energy production and alternative energy sources. His last stop Friday will be in Ann Arbor, Michigan to discuss college affordability.
Mr. Obama's trip will be supplemented by online outreach the White House will conduct all week to engage Americans on the issues.
Some of the president's allies are also at work. For instance, to coincide with the GOP rebuttal delivered by Daniels, a coalition of unions and other groups, including the Indiana AFL-CIO, running an ad attacking the governor. The ad, which will run on broadcast in Indiana and on cable nationally, slams Daniels for flip-flopping on controversial right-to-work legislation. Indiana is a typically red state that Mr. Obama turned blue by a narrow margin in 2008.