Swift to highlight economy, jobs, bilingual education in speech

BOSTON—The economy, jobs and bilingual education will top acting Gov. Jane Swift’s list of priorities when she delivers her first State of the State speech Tuesday night.

The Republican gives the prime time address during a sour economy and in the shadow of a looming race for governor. It will be her first major policy speech since taking the corner office.

“I’m a little nervous. I think it’s normal to be a little nervous for your first big speech,” Swift said Monday.

Swift has received mixed reviews for previous televised addresses. Critics said she appeared stiff in October when she discussed the state’s response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Swift plans to keep her first State of the State speech “short and focused.”

“I think I’ve identified the issues the public is concerned about,” she said. “You try to figure out what the public’s mood is and where you want to lead them and I think we’ve done that.”

She will talk about what the state can do to help the unemployed.

Swift will also talk at length about bilingual education, but will stop short of endorsing a ballot question that would radically overhaul the program, a top aide said.

Swift is also aware that a half dozen potential Democratic challengers will be watching, looking to pick apart the speech.

“This is a big speech,” she said. “I am very aware of that. I’m sure I’ll have butterflies.”

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