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"There is no next thing": Obama readies his last SOTU address

President Obama prepares for the final State of the Union address of his presidency.
President Obama prepares for the final State ... 01:45

Though it's his last State of the Union Address, President Obama and his staff have been scrambling to whip up a frenzy of interest in it.

The president has been doing interviews, conference calls, and posting online videos. Press Secretary Josh Earnest is on Instagram with behind-the-scenes material on speech preparation. The White House has even launched a site on Snapchat to attract viewers to Tuesday night's speech.

"I'm going to talk about the choices we have to make to set this country firmly on an even better, brighter course for decades to come," said Mr. Obama over the weekend about his address.

Days away from the start of his eighth and final year as president, he wants to spotlight the administration accomplishments he thinks are overlooked or taken for granted, and also lay out his vision for the rest of his term in office. He has made it clear he has no interest in cruising gently to the end of his presidency.

"I want us to be able, when we walk out this door, to say we couldn't think of anything else that we didn't try to do," the president said in this White House video posted Monday on Twitter:

"There is no next thing," said Mr. Obama. "This is it."

It's his last year and last chance to achieve the goals he has set for the nation. "I want to make sure that we maximize it," he said.

President Obama's main focus, says his spokesman, are the opportunities he wants to pursue in the time before he has to escort his successor to the 2017 inauguration.

Although the White House says not to expect a lengthy "laundry list" of proposals and objectives, expect Mr. Obama to make the case for his priorities, including reforms in the criminal justice system and Congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, two examples cited Tuesday by Earnest.

The White House has signaled other issues the president will raise by the guests invited to watch the speech from a seat in the first lady's box in the gallery of the House Chamber.

Ahead of the president's last State of the Un... 00:53

One seat will remain vacant in remembrance of the victims of gun violence. President Obama still wants Congress to act beyond his executive measures to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

A Syrian refugee is one presidential guest to help Mr. Obama illustrate the situation in the Middle East, especially the continuing threat posed by ISIS. This is a sore point with Republican leaders.

"What we'd love to hear from the president is a real plan to defeat ISIL," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday.

Other invited guests represent concerns about education, small business, the military and veterans.

Tuesday night's speech will be Mr. Obama's seventh State of the Union Address and 10th speech to a Joint Session of Congress.

Republican Leaders selected Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina to deliver the GOP response to the president.

House Speaker Paul Ryan calls Haley "the exact right choice...in a year when the country is crying out for a positive vision and alternative to the status quo."

It'll be the first time Ryan will sit on the House Rostrum for a presidential address. Ryan joked the other day that he'd like to hear President Obama announce he's withdrawing the policies Republican dislike most.

"I take it all back," is what Ryan wishes the president would say, fantasizing that the president would recant ObamaCare and Wall Street reform.

If wishing made it so, Ryan would have Mr. Obama commit to lower tax rates, clearing out crony capitalism, "and restoring the Constitution to its rightful place in American life."

But President Obama has different plans for his speech. He concedes his name is not on any ballot in 2016, but it will be his best last chance to craft his legacy as the nation's 44th president.

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