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The Lid: Reading Into Obama’s Last State of the Union

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos… One cabinet-level official will not be in attendance for tonight's State of the Union address because they are given the task of being the "designated survivor" in case of calamity. Which, come to think of it, is a brilliant way of keeping that one annoying friend from attending your next birthday happy hour.

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'16 from 30,000

President Barack Obama's State of the Union address tonight will be -- among other things -- a marker of just how the White House itself sees the legacy Obama has built over the past seven years. And as our big sib First Read laid out this morning, it will be a campaign speech of sorts to lay out what the president is promising for the party. The speech comes just days after what used to be a measured debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders exploded into day-in-day-out attacks on issues from health care to guns to taxation. So it makes sense that observers will be parsing every word for signals from the president that appear to put the finger on the scale for either candidate. We saw this last week, when Obama's statement about declining to support Democratic candidates who oppose gun reforms was widely seen as a shot in the arm for Hillary Clinton. (The White House denies such a move.) And we saw it last night, when Joe Biden appeared to ding Clinton for a late arrival to the income inequality debate. (He later clarified his remarks.) Over the weekend, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said that Obama doesn't plan to endorse in the Democratic primary. But with a contest as unexpectedly intense as the Democratic primary is shaping up to be now, a 45-or-so minute speech from the leader of the party is bound to be dissected for 2016 indicators.

Shameless Plug: Our campaign embeds are all over the 2016 headlines 24 hours a day, but they also get to see all kinds ofbehind-the-scenes, quirky moments out on the trail that don't always make thefront page. We're compiling their dispatches every afternoon to let you see thecampaign through their eyes, too! Check out today's edition here!

The Evolution of President Obama's State of the Union 1:01

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

  • NBC's Marianna Sotomayor writes on some of the as-yet unmet promises that Obama has made in previous State of the Union addresses.
  • What's it like to write a State of the Union address? NBC caught up with Obama speechwriter Cody Keenan to walk through the process.
  • Marco Rubio's record on immigration is more complicated than you think, NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell writes.
  • Kim Davis will be at the State of the Union address, although it's not clear which member of Congress invited her.
  • ICYMI: Rand Paul says he'll boycott the Thursday night GOP debate after missing the cut to make the primetime stage.
  • Joe Biden says that Barack Obama offered financial help to the Biden family when his son's health was failing.
  • Chelsea Clinton isn't being shy about echoing her mother's attacks on Bernie Sanders, NBC's Shaquille Brewster reports.

FOR THE RECORD…

"Everyone we know gets on the bus, every animal gets on the bus. Yes, cows can even get on the bus."

  • Chelsea Clinton recounted singing "Wheels on the Bus" with her daughter, Charlotte, and Bill and Hillary Clinton while campaigning for her mother in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

TOMORROW'S SKED

Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida.

Bill Clinton is back in New Hampshire to do three campaign events on behalf of his wife.

Ted Cruz, Christie Christie and John Kasich all campaign in New Hampshire.

Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum stump in Iowa.