President Obama held a conference call late Friday afternoon to "solicit input" from state, local and tribal leaders on the State of the Union address, according to attendees on the call.
Obama — who spoke on the call for a few minutes — told the leaders that the "most urgent challenge” he faces “is getting the economy to grow faster." But he also said he couldn't give too many details about the address, "mainly because I'm still writing it."
One source on the call said Obama referred to his a speech he delivered in Kansas last month — where he sought to portray himself as a champion of the middle class — and said he is striving for an economy where everyone is "engaging in fair play and everyone has a fair shot."
The framework of the Kansas speech was highlighted in the call several times as the administration officials asked for ideas on how to make a strong case for rebuilding the economy. Sources said the White House sent out the Kansas speech to participants in advance of the call to show how the administration is making the case for middle-class Americans. It is unclear how many callers dialed in on Friday afternoon.
Obama appeared on the call with Valerie Jarrett, White House senior adviser, and Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council, who was the designated note-taker.
Sperling said on the call that the administration will keep pressing on some matters that could be done immediately on jobs, including infrastructure projects and modernization of schools.