The Buzz

Obama speech Wednesday to focus on broad themes — like Osawatomie

Updated: 2013-07-22T21:47:36Z

By DAVE HELLING

The Kansas City Star

President Barack Obama has given hundreds of speeches during his time in office — before big crowds and small, on television, on the radio, on the Internet.

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that his Dec. 2011 speech in Osawatomie, Kan., will eventually be considered one of the most important of his presidency.

In that speech, you’ll recall, Obama, made an explicit appeal to the middle class, arguing it had been short-changed by decades of financial decisions.

“This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class,” he said. “Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.”

That middle-class appeal became the centerpiece of his 2012 campaign.

( Rush Limbaugh didn’t like it at all.)

Monday, White House officials said Obama’s speeches this Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill., and Warrensburg, Mo., will focus in broad strokes on the economy.

That immediately brought comparisons to the Osawatomie speech.

From Monday’s press briefing:

Q: If on Wednesday we played the Osawatomie speech instead of this one, would anybody tell the difference?

MR. CARNEY: Absolutely.

Q: I mean, what makes this speech different from December 2011?

MR. CARNEY: We are in a different place. We are in a situation where the economy has continued to grow, has continued to create jobs, and where we have a different set of opportunities here to move the country forward again.

On the other hand, we plead guilty to the charge that there is a thematic continuity that exists between the speech the President will give in Galesburg at Knox College on Wednesday and his speech in Osawatomie and his speech back at Knox College in 2005, as well as his State of the Union addresses and his inaugural addresses. That’s because the themes that you hear and the focus that you hear from the President are the very things that animate him and inspired him to run for the presidency to begin with.

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