The story

With fear of an impending recession, President Bush on Monday night will use his last State of the Union address to revisit unfinished business and press for quick action to keep the economy afloat, administration officials say.

Bush, who prefers focusing on a bike ride or a book most weekends, spent Sunday afternoon behind closed doors at the White House rehearsing the speech. Senior aides said that after a slew of tweaks, the speech runs about 42 minutes.

Downplaying expectations, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said last week that "it's just not realistic" for the president to present any major new policy initiatives with less than a year left in office.

One senior administration official said the president will try to build on last week's initial agreement with Democrats on a $150 billion stimulus plan by invoking a "spirit of bipartisanship that we can use to make other deals" in the future.

Much of the rest of the speech will focus on things Bush already has asked Congress to pass -- an overhaul of federal laws governing electronic surveillance, permanent extensions of his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and free trade agreements with Colombia and Peru, Perino and other administration officials said. Even then, parties acknowledge finding common ground on many of these issues will be difficult in a divisive presidential election year. Read full article »

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