Bay City News Service—Many Bay Area residents will be listening closely to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address tonight, in which he is expected to discuss the economy, gun control, immigration reform and the environment. The annual presidential address begins at 6 p.m. PST.
This year's address comes at the start of Obama's second term, with various policy groups looking to the president to reaffirm the priorities he touched on in his inaugural speech in Washington, D.C., last month.
Immigrant advocacy group Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network, or SIREN, is focused on Obama recommitting to immigration reform, spokeswoman Zelica Rodriguez-Deams said.
"He is saying he wants to get things done in the next six months," she said. "We want to hear his reaffirmation to that."
She said she doesn't expect specific details tonight, but is hoping for at least a roadmap that outlines the president's approach.
"We're hoping for something more comprehensive," she said.
SIREN is holding a watch party at 1010 Ruff Drive in San Jose starting at 5:30 p.m. Those in the immigrant community and their supporters are welcome to attend, Rodriguez-Deams said.
Environmentalists from the group Environment California are looking to Obama to outline the steps he plans to take to address climate change, group spokesman Sean Carroll said.
"The first and biggest thing he can do right now is set standards on existing power plants," he said.
Carroll said he would like to hear the president talk about energy efficiency and prioritize environmental regulation.
Santa Clara University political science professor Jim Cottrill said he expects the president to highlight immigration, gun control and the budget, while also addressing broad general themes such as bipartisanship.
"The economy continues to be a major concern," Cottrill said. "Fiscal negotiations are a major sticking point between the parties right now."
Cottrill said Obama will want to note his accomplishments, including making strides for gay rights.
As for foreign policy, Cottrill said Obama will likely make the case that his policies are making us safer, and will connect that to national security and his controversial nomination of Chuck Hagel, a Republican, as Secretary of Defense to replace Leon Panetta, who is retiring.
Cottrill said Obama is also likely to announce decisive action in terms of removing troops from Afghanistan.
"Americans are ready for this to wind down," he said.
Some Bay Area residents are hosting watch parties at their homes tonight, including David Prager, 36, a resident of San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood who volunteered with the San Francisco re-election campaign for Obama.
Prager said he was surprised by the amount of policy Obama discussed in his inaugural speech and hopes that tonight, the president will elaborate on topics such as gun control, immigration, and the budget deficit.
Prager said issues such as health care and gay rights should be part of the speech, but that other subjects will likely take precedence. After the speech, Prager said he is interested to see what the response will be, especially since tonight is his first time hosting a political gathering at his home.
Alec Bash, a volunteer with Organizing For Action, will be holding a watch event at his home in San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood, with as many as 100 guests expected to attend.
Bash, who has worked for Obama's election campaigns and the Democratic Party, anticipates that Obama will focus on the budget, immigration reform, gun control laws such as implementing universal background checks and assault weapons bans, and climate change.
As for the environment, Bash said, "I hope he'll be rather feisty."
Bash said tonight's speech comes during a critical period in Obama's presidency.
"This is his chance to lay out what he wants to happen in the next four years," he said.
Bash said his fellow volunteers are focusing on how OFA members can support Obama's legislative plans at the local level.
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