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Obama hints at State of the Union focus

President Obama said Thursday that his State of the Union address later this month would look to "mobilize the country" around a "national mission," ensuring that every person who worked hard had "a fair shot at success."

Speaking at an event announcing federal aid to a set of persistently impoverished communities across the country, the president offered new details about the themes of his coming address, as well as messaging efforts the White House plans to undertake in the coming weeks.

Obama said that despite "a rancorous political year," he believed a populist push to address economic inequality was "not a partisan issue," adding that he could tap into a "sense of neighborliness that's inherent in the American people."

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"Anybody in this country who works hard should have a fair shot at success, period," Obama said. "It doesn't matter where they come from, what region of the country, what they look like, what their last name is; they should be able to succeed."

The president also announced that he would join with companies and colleges to promote high-tech manufacturing programs during a trip to North Carolina on Wednesday.

Obama added he would host business executives twice in the coming weeks at the White House. At one event, the president and CEOs would lay out specific steps to help workers "earn the skills that they need for today's new job." At the second, Obama and corporate leaders would announce partnerships to help the long-term unemployed find work.

The series of events comes as the White House is looking to highlight its efforts to address economic inequality in the new year.

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