Gibbs keeps State of Union details secret

Jan. 24, 2011 at 9:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- White House reporters found slim pickings Monday when they tried to pry details of the president's State of the Union speech from press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs repeatedly told the press corps they will have to wait until 9 p.m. EST Tuesday to find out what's in the speech. That's when President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the address to Congress and the nation outlining his views of what needs to be done to move the nation forward.

"I will say that I think you'll hear the president, as we've discussed, speak -- spend most of his time talking about the economy, talking about the challenges that we face both in the short term in terms of doing whatever we can to help create jobs, in the medium and long term to continue working on issues like competitiveness and innovation, and ensuring that in the medium and the long term we get our fiscal house in order," Gibbs said.

Gibbs deflected questions about whether the speech would contain any specifics on curbing Social Security or other entitlements.

"... I think you'll hear the president talk about a whole host of economic things, including getting our fiscal house in order," he said.

Gibbs said Obama has previously mentioned ways to trim federal spending, including a freeze on civilian pay for government workers.

"And the president, again, will spend some time, not just tomorrow night and not just at the introduction of the budget, but throughout the year, talking about what we have to do, again, to make progress on our spending," Gibbs said.

The president will unveil the nuts-and-bolts of his budget proposal in mid-February, Gibbs said.

The press secretary later said Obama "will certainly get into a discussion of some aspects of our foreign policy and will certainly talk about where we are and what progress has been made in our war in Afghanistan, absolutely."

Gibbs said the speech will differ from some presidential addresses in the past in that "I don't think you'll see a laundry list of issues."

"I don't think this is intended to be a speech that is one where you spend big chunks of time walking through the specific machinations of policy," he said.

On a tangential matter, Gibbs was asked if the president has moved ideologically to the center.

"The president is still the same president that we've had for more than two years," Gibbs said.

He was evasive on whether Obama will bring up gun control in the wake of the massacre in Tucson.

"From a policy perspective, I'll simply tell you that, as I said last week, I don't doubt that as a result of the impact of the issues of what happened in Tuscon, that there will be a number of proposals that this White House and the Congress will evaluate, and we'll wait until tomorrow to see what's in the State of the Union," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said the list of guests who will sit in first lady Michelle Obama's box would include Daniel Hernandez, the congressional aide credited with helping save the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was among those shot Jan. 8 in Tucson; the family of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl killed in the spree; and Dr. Peter Rhee, one of the doctors who played a key role in saving Giffords' life.

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