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Jobs will be SOTU 'main topic,' Obama tells supporters in video

By the CNN Wire Staff
In a videotaped message to supporters, Obama also addressed the need to make government "leaner and smarter."
In a videotaped message to supporters, Obama also addressed the need to make government "leaner and smarter."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama sends a video to supporters previewing State of the Union
  • He stresses the need to bolster the economy, boost competitiveness, create jobs
  • Critics said a lack of focus on the economy were to blame for Democrats' 2010 losses
  • Obama reiterated his call for bipartisanship

(CNN) -- President Obama said jobs and the economy would be central to his upcoming State of the Union address in a videotaped preview of the speech that was sent to supporters on Saturday.

"My principal focus, my number one focus, is going to be making sure that we are competitive, that we are growing, and we are creating jobs not just now but well into the future," Obama said.

The message, taped Friday, went up on YouTube and went out to backers of the Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America initiative on Saturday.

It comes three days before Obama delivers his second State of the Union, a speech that is usually the most important and well-watched address that a president gives each year.

This will be Obama's first such address since Democrats suffered a major setback in last November's elections, losses that some critics attributed to what they said was the president's lack of focus on a sluggish economy.

In his videotaped remarks, Obama acknowledged the challenging economic times, calling the past two years "as tough as anything we've gone through since the Great Depression."

He said significant progress has been made recently, claiming that more than a million jobs had been created on his watch and that the once-shrinking economy is growing again. But the president added that many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet.

The president said that, while he hadn't yet finished his State of the Union, alleviating such struggles -- and spurring the economy -- would be "the main topic" in the speech.

"I'm focused on making sure the economy is working for everybody, for the entire American family," he said.

Wearing a jacket and purple tie, Obama also addressed the need to "deal with our deficits and our debt in a responsible way" and make government "leaner and smarter." During last year's election and since, Republicans have emphasized decreasing the size of government and lowering the size of the federal budget.

Such differences notwithstanding, Obama hinted that he might also include a call for bipartisanship in Tuesday's speech, as he has in recent weeks following the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.

"These are big challenges that are in front of us," he said. "But we're up to it, as long as we come together as a people -- Republicans, Democrats, Independents -- as long as ... we're willing to find common ground even as we're having vigorous debates.

"That's what built this country, that's what we're all about, and that's what it's going to take to win the future."

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