msnbc | February 10, 2013
>>> on tuesday the president will deliver the first state of the union address of his second term. he's pected to focus mainly on the economy and middle class americans. for more now on the speech we're joined by a former speech writer for president bill clinton and michael gerson , former speech writer for george w. bush . thanks for being here.
>> good to be other.
>> it seems like the white house han been flooding the tone in terms of messaging, news conferences, tweets on guns, immigration, sequestration as well. what's the kind of strategy leading up to a speech like this?
>> i think the president is going to move from the poetry of we the people in the inaugural to the prose of it's the economy, stupid, in the state of the union , and the administration has been rolling out a lot of initiatives and ideas partly to see what the response will be.
>> and partly to test how to talk about them.
>> it's message testing.
>> that's right.
>> mike, michael , since we've been hearing so much from the president lately, is he in danger at all of maybe giving a speech that sounds a lot like others that we've heard from him?
>> well, i think it is a danger that the debate sounds tired. if we're talking about the deficit all the time. if he really wants to talk about economic growth , about sparking economic growth , he's going to need to bring new policy to the table in this speech. he can't just repeat what he has said barnstorming the country in a variety of settings. that's the burden of policy not rhetoric for the speech. i think there needs to be -- if he wants a new beginning on the debate to economic growth he has to bring some new things to the table.
>> do you think we'll hear policy prescriptions on tuesday night?
>> i think there will be a lot of policy, and i think that the president going into the first year of his second term needs to have something new, but he also needs to have something familiar. the last thing a president wants is to have coverage that says that he's abandoning what he used to stand for, and he's adopting something entirely different from what he was elected and re-elected on.
>> michael in, his 1996 state of the union speech president bill clinton delivered this memorable line.
>> the era of big government is over. [ applause ] but -- but we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves.
>> michael , the era of big government is over. is there a trick to the trade of crafting moments like these in state of the union addresses?
>> well, you have to summarize the moment to some extent. that was what bill clinton brought to that democratic party at that time was a major repositioning. that's what he had done in '92 and that's i think what was doing there. but i don't think we're going to hear even anything remotely like this from the president. he's coming off an election victory which he views as a real affirmation of a kind of progressive vision of government that actively helps the middle class , and that's likely what we're going to hear, whether we have new policy or not, and that's going to be a contrast. marco rubio is going to talk about how limited government is good for the middle class . there will be arguments about the middle class , but i think very different methods to get there. the lines will likely be pretty sharp.
>> so we will have a conversation on tuesday night, a conversation that we've all become familiar, a conversation over the role of government.
>> i think that's likely.
>> if i --
>> go ahead.
>> if i could say one thing. i'm glad that you showed the second line that president clinton had after saying that the era of big government is over. i'm glad that you showed something that isn't quoted that often where he said but we must not go back to the era where our citizens had to fend for themselves. i think you're going to hear that kind of balance from president obama on tuesday night
>> you beat me to t.excellent. that's exactly what i was going to get at next. former presidential speech writers michael kuznet and michael gerson . appreciate