Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said in an interview airing Friday night that President Obama needs to shake a "feeling of lethargy" in his State of the Union address.
"I think he has to show energy," the former lawmaker said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "He has to show a passion for the things that he wants to do in the second term. I think there's a little bit of a feeling of lethargy right now. He's had some setbacks. I think he needs to re-engage and re-energize."
Daschle said he believed the president couldn't ignore the issue of income inequality in his remarks, saying there was "almost a universal recognition" that the gap between the nation's richest and poorest needed to be addressed.
Earlier Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama was likely to talk about raising the minimum wage as part of his State of the Union speech, in which he's expected to focus on income inequality.
"That's something that economists have made clear is a positive step when it comes to rewarding hard work and rewarding responsibility, and lifting Americans who are working hard and acting responsibly out of difficult economic circumstances," Carney said.
Daschle also criticized the president's team as "too insular" and implored him not to "give up" on striking agreements with Congress.
"I think the more engaged, the more creatively involved they are with members of Congress, with members of the media, with members of all stripes in Washington serves them well. You've got to be engaged. And the more you're engaged, the more likely it is you're going to have the relationships that you're going to need when you're trying to move legislation," Daschle said.
He did credit White House chief of staff Denis McDonough for his outreach to Capitol Hill. McDonough and new Obama adviser John Podesta were former staffers in Daschle's office.
"He really has done a good job of reaching out," Daschle said. "He's on the Hill a lot. He gets good remarks from members of both parties."
He also recommended Obama "find ways to maybe personalize" relationships more than he has.
"You've got to find ways to break out of the normal venues — that is, meeting in some room on the Capitol — in the Capitol or in the White House, break out of those venues," Daschle said.