Obama's challenge in 2016 campaign year: stay relevant

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
The Big Changes in Obama's 2016 Budget in One Chart

Advancing gun control, closing the U.S. military prison in Cuba and reforming criminal justice laws are likely to top President Barack Obama's State of the Union address agenda next month as he starts his last year with a key goal: remaining relevant.

Obama, who returns from a two-week vacation in Hawaii this weekend, will deliver his last State of the Union speech to both houses of Congress on Jan. 12, kicking of his final year in office just as the campaign to succeed him moves into a higher profile phase.

Current and former White House advisers noted that Obama avoided any slide into "lame duck" status in 2015 with big policy moves including the Iran nuclear deal and an international agreement to fight climate change.

For more on Obama, scroll through the gallery below:
12 PHOTOS
Obama's year-end press conference
See Gallery
Obama's challenge in 2016 campaign year: stay relevant
President Barack Obama gestures while answering questions during a news conference in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. Obama sought to lay the groundwork Friday for his last year in office by vowing not to fade in the background but instead use his remaining months to push longstanding goals to fruition.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a news conference in the briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. Obama is trying to put Republicans on defense in the U.S. debate over gun rights with a call to ban people on the governments no-fly list from buying firearms. The trouble is his proposal may be unconstitutional. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press briefing room at the White House, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the White House Brady Press Briefing Room, in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
US President Barack Obama gestures during a press conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 18, 2015. Obama addressed the press before flying to San Bernardino to meet families of the victims of the December 2 attack, before continuing to Hawaii for a two-week family vacation. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

With an especially chaotic Republican presidential race, led by frontrunner Donald Trump, they say Obama will continue to drive public discourse even as his time in office draws to a close.

"I expect 2016 will look a lot like 2015, the president and his team continuing to put substantive legacy-worth points on the board while the political circus is focused on Trump and the rest," said Dan Pfeiffer, a former White House adviser.

Advisers have signaled that Obama's final State of the Union address is unlikely to include a laundry list of proposed legislative initiatives that has been typical of other years.

The speech will emphasize policy priorities on climate change and Cuba while highlighting policy pushes he wants to finish, such as trade.

It is also likely to include a new call for gun control.

"We know that we can't stop every act of violence. But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something – anything – to protect our kids from gun violence?" Obama said in his weekly radio address, released on Friday.

Obama said he will meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to discuss options that his advisers have put together to address the issue, suggesting an announcement on new initiatives is likely soon.

The president may decide to take executive action on another key priority before he leaves office: closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The White House plans to release a revised plan to Congress spelling out a way to close the infamous facility, but aides are not optimistic that lawmakers will alter their resistance to moving prisoners to a location on U.S. soil.

Though executive action to close Guantanamo is not being talked about openly at the White House, aides said it was something the president would no doubt wrestle with before the end of the year.

"Presidents are always relevant and this president seems determined to use every legal authority he has to (have) impact on the big challenges he sees," said David Axelrod, a former adviser and strategist for Obama's 2008 and 2012 election wins.

To see more on the President and his family, scroll through the gallery below:

15 PHOTOS
NTP: Obama and daughters get shaved ice on Hawaii trip
See Gallery
Obama's challenge in 2016 campaign year: stay relevant
President Barack Obama shakes hands with bystanders during a visit to Island Snow to get shave ice during a family vacation on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Kailua, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Barack Obama (R) talks with his daughter Malia Obama while stopping for shaved ice at Island Snow after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Secret Service prepare for US President Barack Obama's departure from Island Snow during a stop for shaved ice after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama greets people outside Island Snow during a stop for shaved ice after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama waves during a visit to Island Snow to get shave ice during a family vacation, on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Kailua, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
A member of the Secret Service stands watch over a crowd as US President Barack Obama stops for shaved ice from Island Snow after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama leaves Island Snow after eating shaved ice after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama leaves Island Snow with shaved ice after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama eats shaved ice from Island Snow after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama leaves Island Snow with shaved ice after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People take photos of President Barack Obama during a visit to Island Snow to get shave ice during a family vacation on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Kailua, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Barack Obama leaves Island Snow with shaved ice after a visit to the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama, right, talks with his daughter Malia on a visit to Island Snow during a family vacation on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Kailua, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Barack Obama gets into his armored car after a stop at Island Snow for shaved ice while on the way home from the beach December 27, 2015 in Kailua, Hawaii. Obama and the First Family are in Hawaii for vacation. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


More from AOL.com:
The Republican race is becoming a complete free-for-all, with all eyes trained on one key state
Jeb Bush released a sarcastic New Year's ad mocking Donald Trump's most 'unhinged' moments
'They arrived shooting': The search for fugitive Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' Guzmán has intensified


Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners