Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive things to know about efforts to repeal Obama's water rule Mulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Senate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays MORE (R-Ky.) said President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night would be a litmus test of whether the president will embrace new economic policies.

“Does he want to be a hero to the left or a champion of the middle class? He can’t be both,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “Americans don’t need a new message, they need a new direction.”

McConnell said the United States has lived under Obama’s economic policies for six years and they aren't working. He pointed to a poll that found 74 percent of the public still feels as if the country is in a recession.

McConnell encouraged Obama to “reach to the center” during the speech by announcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, reducing taxes and ending ObamaCare. But Obama is expected to focus on income inequality and aid for the unemployed.

“[The State of the Union] will give us the clearest indication yet of whether the President is ready to embrace the future – or whether he’ll once again take the easy route, the reflexive liberal route, and just pivot back to the failed policies of the past,” McConnell said. “Is this going to be all rhetoric or is he actually serious.”

Some Democrats have called on Obama to give a partisan speech that contrasts the two parties ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections, but McConnell said he hoped the hard-left would be disappointed.