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Obama to Kansas to Invoke Teddy Roosevelt

OSAWATOMIE, KAN. -- President Obama will give an economic speech in Osawatomie, Kan., Tuesday at a location the White House says it was very specific in picking and was meant to stir echoes of President Teddy Roosevelt.

Roosevelt spoke in the very same town more than 100 years ago on Aug. 31, 1910, where he presented his vision for America and the coming 1912 election.

Sound familiar?

That's by design.

The White House says it spent a month planning and choosing this location and that there are parallels between how working class families felt then and now.

Roosevelt gave what was called a "New Nationalism" agenda, talking about regulation on special interests (even using that term), and calling out for welfare, human rights and a greater role for federal government.

At the time the remarks, given to more than 30,000 people, had a wide-range of reaction, even some calling them "Communist and "Socialist," according to the Kansas Historical Society. 

Others lauded it as a great address.

"This New Nationalism regards the executive power as the steward of the public welfare," Roosevelt said.

The Obama administration's take is that Roosevelt's Osawatomie speech was about a "fair chance, a square deal and an equal opportunity to succeed," reads a description on the president' schedule.

Adding that Obama will "talk about how he sees this as a make-or-break moment for the middle class and all those working to join it."

The word "fair" was used several times in advance of the speech. That's a word Obama has used multiple times, over several months in wrangling with Congress and GOP, saying the wealthiest need to pay their "fair share" in his jobs bill proposal that taxes millionaires.

"The president's speech will encapsulate the debates that we've been having this year over our economic policy and over our economic future," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in Monday's briefing.

Democrats and the White House are currently squabbling with Republicans over the expiring payroll cut extension.

Carney says the speech marks a moment for the president to send a message.

"So he thinks it's an opportune time and an opportune location to really try to put into broader perspective the kind of debates we've been having and the issues that are of vital importance to building an economic future in this country in his mind that gives middle-class Americans the kind of fair shake and fair shot that they deserve," Carney said.

Roosevelt -- a Republican and the 26th president before he gave the speech -- had just wrapped up two terms, after being thrust into the presidency after President McKinley was assassinated. He left the Republican Party, and joined what was called then the "Progressive" Party, which didn't gain much steam.

In the speech, he often used quotes from Abraham Lincoln, something President Obama does as well.

Obama's remarks will take place at the Osawatomie High School.