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Parsing Obama’s Words Over 8 Addresses to Congress

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Delivering his final State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama relied on key phrases and terms that dominate his previous addresses to Congress.  

Obama’s dependence on certain words, however, has changed over the years. When he first addressed Congress as president in 2009, he mentioned terms such as “government,” “tax” and “budget” 59 times. On Tuesday, such terms were used just nine times.  

Words such as “America” and “country” have consistently gotten the most mentions across his seven annual joint session address. Perhaps not a surprise, but noteworthy because of the national identity they conjure. Phrases like, “… big questions that we as a country have to answer” and “my fellow Americans” can create a sense of unity.  

In fact, Obama upped his Americanism on the fly Tuesday, adding 18 percent more of such terms on delivery, compared with his prepared remarks.  

Another of his favorite words is “more,” which he used 24 times Tuesday night.

  • “… more care and benefits to our troops …”
  • “More than 14 million new jobs …”
  • “We’ve made progress. But we need to make more. “

Explore other key terms from all of his State of the Union addresses with this interactive tool.  

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