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There’s also a question of Obama’s preferred audience. While some Republicans hope to hear a more conciliatory speech, Democrats on the mall and watching across the country might want to hear something else entirely.
“The real Obama is complicated and he has to decide which one he wants to emphasize — the conciliator, the proud progressive, the racial, ethnic inclusivist?” Kazin said.
For those dissatisfied by Monday’s offering, the State of the Union is only a few weeks away.
Steven T. Dennis and Daniel Newhauser contributed to this report.