obama

Weeks before President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, White House aides were locking down a plan for the sales pitch that would follow during three days of travel focused on his main themes.

The effort to promote Obama’s proposals on jobs, wages and education involved visits to Asheville, N.C., Decatur Ga., and Chicago, participating in a Google+ chat and mobilizing the president’s formidable former campaign apparatus.

One thing it didn’t include? Congress.

For the White House, this is a campaign for public opinion, not one to write specific legislation.

When it comes to broadening early education or raising the minimum wage, Obama is not ready to make lawmakers a part of the process yet.

Instead, Obama is trying to change an economic debate that has been focused on deficits and on managing the national debt to one about middle-class opportunities and economic growth. Just into his second term, Obama and his aides want to move away from the type of budget confrontations that have defined the past two years and take advantage of his re-election to pressure Republicans.