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Phoenix political observers lay out expectations for State of the Union

PHOENIX -- With three years left in his administration, Tuesday night's speech by President Obama is being labeled by many as an attempt to jump-start his administration after a difficult 2013.

Those troubles included a botched rollout of the healthcare law, a government shutdown and NSA leaks. KTAR political analyst Mike O'Neil said he expected the president to play to his strengths by focusing on income equality and boosting the federal minimum wage.

"The minimum wage is highly popular," O'Neil said. "Related themes would be more work on education and job training. He has broad swaths of the public behind him. These are the main things that I expect to be the focus of the speech along with income equality.

Conservative political strategist Stan Barnes said Obama has his work cut out for him.

"The outlook is pretty grim for presidential achievement in the next three years. His own party is already looking at Hillary Clinton and what she brings to the table."

O'Neil believed the president could turn around his administration and score some political victories contingent on there being no more major problems with the implementation of health care.

"If you're a democrat and you are facing a midterm election this year then you're probably not bragging about the president," Barnes said. "That's a clear indication that something is politically wrong and I believe (the) speech will recognize that in its own subtle way."

Barnes said the one issue that the president could have working in his favor is immigration reform because both parties have a stake in seeing it happening.

O'Neil doesn't expect reform to be a major thrust of the speech but he believed the president will likely touch on the issue.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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