Obama to shrug off 'lame duck' label

US President Barack Obama speaking at a news conference at the White House on Dec 18.
US President Barack Obama speaking at a news conference at the White House on Dec 18.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON • President Barack Obama, fighting the "lame duck" label for presidents whose clout wanes in their final months in office, will spend the last year of his presidency working to preserve gains and make a last push on a few key issues, senior White House officials said.

Mr Obama will seek to put the finishing touches on legacy items such as his plan to curb United States carbon emissions and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, while trying to made headway on criminal justice reforms, the officials told reporters on Thursday.

The White House will work to cement Mr Obama's achievements by strengthening healthcare, expanding clean energy production, implementing the Iran nuclear deal and normalising relations with Cuba.

"You don't start a new agenda on Jan 1. We intend to push a bunch of big pieces of business over the finish line next year," a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Previewing Mr Obama's final State of the Union address slated for Jan 12, the officials said it will be a "non-traditional speech" to frame what Mr Obama sees as major issues.

"I don't think you should expect a huge, long list from the President of legislative to-dos, but I think he's anxious to take kind of a big-picture approach to some of the challenges and opportunities that we face," an official said.

Mr Obama was set to take questions from reporters on the year ahead at a news conference yesterday at 1.50pm (2.50am Singapore time today) before he leaves for Hawaii for a two-week vacation. On the way to Hawaii, he will stop in San Bernardino, California, to meet families of victims of a shooting this month by a couple inspired by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The fight against the militant group and preventing similar attacks at home will be at the top of his list for next year, the officials said. He also will spend time on the presidential campaign trail stumping for the Democratic nominee.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2015, with the headline 'Obama to shrug off 'lame duck' label'. Print Edition | Subscribe