Valerie Jarrett: SOTU Is 'All About Action -- A Very Optimistic Speech'

Susan Jones | January 28, 2014 | 8:09am EST
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As seen from the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, ahead of Tuesday night's State of the Union speech. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( - "People around our country are hungry for action," White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday. "And what you'll hear from the president tonight is going to be all about action -- creating opportunity -- and it's going to be a very optimistic speech."

Jarrett said the president, in his sixth State of the Union Address, will "set forth very specific, concrete proposals that he things will move our country forward -- create opportunity for hard-working Americans who want to succeed."

She said he will continue to prod Congress to pass major pieces of legislation, such as immigration reform and trade agreements. "But he also will make clear tonight that he will take action on his own," Jarrett said, pointing to Tuesday's announcement that Obama plans to raise the minimum wage on all federal contracts to $10.10 an hour.

Another example of taking action on his own is Friday's White House summit with business leaders, who will try to make it easier for the long-term unemployed to get jobs, she said.

Although he will take action on his own where he can, he'll also "continue to call on Congress, both sides of the aisle, to come up with new and fresh ideas for how we can grow our economy and create opportunities for the American people, but we're not going to stop at that," Jarrett said.

"We're going to do what we can, within the president's own executive power, and working throughout the country with those who want to move our country forward. And it is a lot of potential there. And I think  the optimism that the president has comes from the grit and determination of the American people, our businesses, many of who (sic) are bringing jobs back to America, so we have some momentum going, and we just need to call on everybody to work together, and that's what the president will do this evening."

Asked about a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showing that Americans are losing confidence in the president, Jarret said, "the president has never paid a lot of attention to the poll numbers."

She said when he comes to work in the morning, he's thinking about the hard-luck letters he's read the night before, such as the one "from a single mom who's struggling hard to make ends meet and take care of her children and her parents and is suffering under a minimum wage, and what can we do to raise her wage so that she doesn't have to raise her children in poverty. Those are the kinds of stories that motivate the president every day."

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