Democratic Leaders Eagerly Awaiting Obama

Posted February 24, 2009 at 5:18pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gushed over President Barack Obama in advance of Tuesday’s address to Congress, and predicted he would present a somber assessment of the economy with hope for the future.

“Tonight is an historic night for America,” Pelosi said, noting that it would be the first address from an African-American president to a joint session of Congress. She said the speech would be “somber, full of hope and history that we will all be proud of being a part of.”

“The bar keeps getting set higher and higher for him,” Reid said.

Reid said that in addition to providing hope, Obama would continue to reach out to Republicans.

“Barack Obama is a person who reaches out to all, and he will continue to do that tonight,” he said.

The pair also defended housing legislation aimed at the foreclosure crisis in part by giving bankruptcy judges the ability to adjust mortgages.

And Pelosi said any federal takeover of banks “should be transitional and not something that is the wave of the future.”

After weeks of describing in detail the economy’s deterioration and peril as he sought to push Congress to pass his stimulus bill, Obama plans to offer uplifting words of hope designed to reassure the nation about the crisis it faces.

“While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before,” Obama will say, according to excerpts released by the White House.

“The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation,” Obama will say. “What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.”

The guest list to the first lady’s box in the House gallery will feature a range of people plucked from the hinterland to demonstrate some of Obama’s priorities and views. Among them is a Florida bank executive who shared with employees some $60 million in proceeds from the sale of bank shares, the Department of Interior inspector general, a soldier wounded in Afghanistan, the president of Namaste Solar, and Republican Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont.