Obama Foreshadowed State of the Union Theme Last Month in N.C. Speech

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010
Barack Obama

The White House was pretty tight lipped today about exactly what President Obama will say in tomorrow night's State of the Union address. They did offer a preview to some democratic political analysts and one in attendance told CBS News that investing in the future will be a key theme. Investment was a major part of a speech the president gave in December, in what some say was an early State of the Union preview.

"Even as we scour the budget for cuts and savings in the months ahead, I will continue to fight for those investments that will help America win the race for the jobs and industries of the future -- and that means investments in education and innovation and infrastructure. I will be fighting for that," Mr. Obama said, speaking at the Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Dec. 6 of last year.

The president is looking to frame the federal debt debate over the nation's priorities. Specifically, he'll push for investment in the future, new industries that can be uniquely American, and ones that will create American jobs. Doing so in December, he called on America to create another "Sputnik" moment - to rally around a challenge from a foreign adversary to build new technologies, new industries and a better future.

"If this is truly going to be our Sputnik moment, we need a commitment to innovation that we haven't seen since President Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon," he said. "And we're directing a lot of that research into one of the most promising areas for economic growth and job creation -- and that's clean energy technology. I don't want to see new solar panels or electric cars or advanced batteries manufactured in Europe or in Asia. I want to see them made right here in America, by American businesses and American workers."

In the North Carolina speech, Mr. Obama also laid a marker for thedebate on spendingand began to argue for programs that he finds sacred, a theme he will most certainly pick up on the State of the Union.

"To borrow an analogy, cutting the deficit by cutting investments in areas like education, areas like innovation -- that's like trying to reduce the weight of an overloaded aircraft by removing its engine. It's not a good idea. There may be some things you need to get rid of, but you got to keep the engine," he said.

Further, he will use tomorrow's speech to call on Americans to regain their competitive spirit and to work together in rebuilding America's economy and retooling for the 21st century. Again, here were his words in his December speech:

"We need to do what America has always been known for: building, innovating, educating, making things. We don't want to be a nation that simply buys and consumes products from other countries. We want to create and sell products all over the world that are stamped with three simple words: 'Made In America.' That's our goal", he said to applause.

Watch CBS News Senior Political Producer Rob Hendin discuss the State of the Union on "Washington Unplugged," along with CBS News Washington Correspondent Bob Orr, CBS News White House Correspondent Chip Reid, CBS Evening News Senior Producer Ward Sloane and CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes:

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    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.