This is a big "game day" at the White House. Tonight's address sets the President's agenda for the year and triggers reaction from all corners. With hours to go before the speech, his advisors give reporters bits and pieces of what's happening behind the scenes.
For example, the President's remarks have reached draft #31 and if even a few words are changed today that number will go higher. Chunks of the speech that the White House considers important are released at 5 p.m. ET, but not the best stuff. Advisors will hold back to a degree to allow the President full effect tonight. Then at 6 p.m. ET, the White House will provide a list of the guests who will join Mrs. Bush in her box. Since President Reagan first acknowledged a special citizen, other Presidents have followed suit, weaving comments about that guest or guests in the address. The early guidance is helpful to the networks since this is the President's largest TV audience of the year. Commentators can provide a back story and take a shot of those guests. One face to expect, Samuel Alito, the newly confirmed and soon to be sworn-in associate justice of the Supreme Court. Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts are successes the President can claim and having them in the Chamber reinforces that.
On content, the president is expect talk about four domestic policy areas: Competitiveness, energy, health care and budget -- which aides refer to as "spending taxpayer money wisely." But the address will begin with foreign policy, the subject area that casts such a long shadow over the President and all he does.