Ready to put an economic spotlight on his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama is picking up the pace of his jobs message and making a case that, even against a divided Congress, he can still be relevant to people struggling in the up-and-down recovery.

With two weeks left before his message to a joint session of Congress, Obama is showcasing how he can advance his economic agenda administratively and through his ability to coax action from important interest groups.

On Tuesday, Obama is meeting with his Cabinet to discuss measures that can help the middle class. On Wednesday he will go to North Carolina to draw attention to industry steps to increase high-tech manufacturing. On Thursday he has invited college presidents to discuss ways to improve workers’ skills. Later this month, he is convening CEOs at the White House to lay out plans for hiring the long-term unemployed.

“The president will use every tool he can to create new jobs and opportunities for the middle class,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer writes in an email to be sent Tuesday morning to the White House list of supporters. “He will be looking for areas of bipartisan cooperation, but he won’t be waiting on Congress to act.”

The approach has strong echoes of Obama’s 2012 “We can’t wait” campaign that sought to depict Obama as an impatient executive in the face of inaction from Congress, particularly the Republican-controlled House.

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