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State of the Union: Will Obama's push to the center appeal to the left?

Obama's State of the Union address will emphasize both job creation and deficit reduction, a centrist agenda. In an appeal to his base, the president sends his backers a video preview.

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Sen. Charles Schumer, (D) of New York clashed with the administration in December over the deal with Republicans to extend all the Bush tax cuts for two years. Asked Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation” how the party left would react to the new focus on cutting government spending and whether Democrats would take the issue of the deficit seriously, he replied that Democrats “are serious and will continue to be” about cutting spending.

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“We know that has to happen,” he said, “but it has to be done in a smart way. And another thing the president is going to talk about is not cutting back on investments that will help us grow in the future – things like education, and infrastructure, and scientific research.”

“Yes we have to cut, and there’s a lot of waste in the government,” Senator Schumer said. “We will join with our colleagues and with the president to do it. But certain key investments we will keep.”

Schumer, who said Americans want “an optimistic future-oriented pro-growth platform,’’ added that he thought Obama’s address would be “well-received by Democrats in Congress and the country. But by all Americans more importantly.”

Reconnecting with the center

Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who angered his former fellow Democrats when he endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain for president in 2008, praised Obama Sunday for his recent bipartisanship and overtures to the political center.

“The president listened to the results of the election in November, and that's – that's the right thing to do in America,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “Elections have consequences. And since then, he has really reconnected to the vital center of American politics and, I think, to the American people.”

Senator Lieberman, who announced last week he would not seek reelection in 2012, helped lead the charge in the Senate in December to push through the repeal of the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred gays from serving openly in the military, an accomplishment of the lame-duck Congress that was applauded by liberals.

The way Obama reconnected with the center, he said, “was through the remarkable accomplishments of the lame-duck session and then an extraordinary unifying speech in Tucson. I think he's got to keep that going.”

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