Why Obama Is Bringing His State Of The Union Message To Conservative Idaho

Jan 21, 2015

Pres. Obama and his Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
Credit The White House / Flickr Creative Commons

President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a 2:45 p.m. speech today at the Caven-Williams Sports Complex on the Boise State University campus after delivering his State of the Union address last night.

Idaho is among the most Republican states in the country. In 2012, Idaho voters gave just 32.6 percent of the vote to Obama.  After his visit here, the Democratic President will travel to Kansas, another very conservative state. In Kansas, Obama received 38 percent of the vote.

At first blush, the two cities may seem like an odd match. But Boise State political scientist David Adler says it’s not uncommon for presidents to take their State of the Union message to states where they usually don’t have a great deal of support.

“I think that the selection of Boise, like the selection of Lawrence, Kansas, reflects the desire to visit two very red states but also areas where he will find support in the local city,” Adler says.

By visiting two GOP-controlled states, Adler says the President is taking his message into politically-hostile regions.

“After all, if you go into the den of the lion and begin to sell your ideas, people at least have to have respect for the fact you’ve tried to sell your ideas to a crowd or an area that may not be wholly receptive to your message,” Adler says.

Adler expects the President to discuss his recently-announced plan to provide free tuition to those who attend community college, and other themes related to the middle class.

“You come west and you go to the Midwest,” he says. “And Idaho is a state, while it’s red, ought to have some interest in promoting the economic interest of the middle class.”

In addition to the speech, President Obama will also visit Boise State’s College of Engineering and its New Product Development Lab.

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