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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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The mood of Obama’s address, he said, “has to be both unifying and confident, optimistic that we can do things if we work together. I think the main focus really has to be on, how do you keep growing jobs and at the same time deal with the biggest long-term threat to America's strength and our economy, and that is the debt?”

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Appearing with Lieberman on “This Week” was Sen. Kent Conrad (D) of North Dakota, who served on the bipartisan deficit commission that proposed a host of measures to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

A need for painful cuts

Conrad, who also announced his plan not to seek reelection next year, said leadership is required to help Americans understand the need to make painful cuts in social programs.

“The American people say, don't touch Social Security, don't touch Medicare, don't cut defense,” Senator Conrad said. “That's 84 percent of the federal budget. If you can't touch 84 percent of the federal budget – and, by the way, they also don't want to touch revenue – you're down to 16 percent of the budget at a time we're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend.

“So, you know, there needs to be leadership to help the American people understand how serious this problem is and that it's going to take a lot more than cutting foreign aid and taxing the rich. You're not going to solve the problem that way.”

Also praising Obama yesterday for his reaction to the midterm elections was Senator McCain, who said on “Face the Nation” he thought the president had “learned a lot” in his first two years in office.

Saying he thought there was now “common ground” for Republicans and Obama, Senator McCain said, “He is a very intelligent man. I think he's doing a lot of right things.”

In his address Obama is “going to be talking about cutting spending. That's what the message of the November election was. He'll be saying some things that we don't agree with, but … I think there's going to be a number of areas that we can at least find common ground on."

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