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Prez Obama enters fray as republicans feud

With Republicans stuck over nominations, prez launches 5-state tour.

world Updated: Jan 24, 2012 01:57 IST

As Republicans feud in a divisive nominating melee, President Barack Obama this week takes his reelection blueprint of economic justice for all direct and unfiltered to American voters.


Obama will lay out his vision in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, seeking to defy political logic that suggests incumbent presidents lose when they ask for a second term amid sluggish growth and high unemployment.

Then, he will embark on his first cross-country campaign foray of the year, visiting five states — Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan — that his campaign team sees as vital to his prospects in November's election.

Obama's third State of the Union address will pitch him into the volatile Republican nominating race electrified by comeback kid Newt Gingrich's win in the South Carolina primary over establishment pick Mitt Romney.

The annual televised showpiece offers the president a unique platform to beam his message into the living rooms of millions of Americans and Obama said Saturday he would conjure up a picture of an economy where "everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share and everybody plays by the same set of rules."

With his approval ratings below 50% — dangerous territory for a president seeking reelection — Obama will renew his call for the richest Americans to pay more in taxes to ease the pain of the middle class.

He promises initiatives to boost manufacturing, create jobs and to tap homegrown and alternative energy, though most are believed dead on arrival in a Congress locked down by hostile Republicans.

The president's case boils down to an argument that Republicans favor the rich while he is a warrior for the middle class.

The Republican counter charge is also simple and targeted at voters weary of years of economic pain: Obama has failed to create jobs, run up government debt and is covering up his failures by resorting to class warfare.

"It sounds to me like the same old policies that we've seen," Republican House speaker John Boehner told Fox News Sunday. "And if that's what the president is going to talk about Tuesday night, I think it's pathetic."

Obama's aides are watching the Republican primary joust with glee.

They have mocked multi-millionaire Romney over a row about his tax returns and record as a venture capitalist which fits nicely into Obama's populist anti-Wall Street message.