We knew much of what he was going to say in advance—a focus on gun violence, job creation to create a "thriving middle class," and a quicker drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan, for starters—but President Obama still had a speech to give. Some highlights and odds and ends from the State of the Union address:
- Read the prepared transcript at Salon.
- Obama wants to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, reports the New York Times. "No one who works full time should have to live in poverty," he said.
- Obama also called for a significant expansion in preschool programs around the nation to make them available to every child.
- Newtown made clear it's time to pass tougher gun laws, said Obama. He singled out the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the young girl recently killed in Chicago. "They deserve a vote," he said. "Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence—they deserve a simple vote."
- After pushing a "Fix It First" program to repair roads, bridges, and rail lines, Obama added his annual joke: "And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I’ve seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings."
- Obama "not only mentioned climate change but made clear that if Congress didn’t act, he would," writes Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. He brought up Superstorm Sandy, wildfires, etc.—"about as direct a call for action by Congress on climate change as you will hear from a president." (For the record, Ted Nugent "seems to be in true pain during this climate change section," observed Slate's Dave Weigel.)
- "The president devoted a large chunk of his speech to deficit reduction, but didn’t propose anything new," writes Damian Paletta at the Wall Street Journal.
- Obama also announced a nonpartisan commission to reform voting laws. “When any Americans—no matter where they live or what their party—are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals.”
- Conservative justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia skipped the speech, notes Politico.
- Read excerpts from Marco Rubio's response or read the full text.