The State of the Union address: Live Report
- Published: 13/02/2013 at 08:44 AM
- Online news:
As the world digests the proposals put forth by President Obama and his rival Republicans, AFP is closing its Live Report on the State of the Union.
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on February 12, 2013 at the US Capitol in Washington.
0355 GMT: Speaker Boehner offers his own critique.
“Four years after the president first addressed a joint session of Congress, Americans are still asking, 'where are the jobs?' Tonight, he offered them little more than more of the same 'stimulus' policies that have failed to fix our economy and put Americans back to work. We cannot grow the middle class and foster job creation by growing government and raising taxes.
0349 GMT: Other Republican reaction to the speech is rolling in. Former presidential candidate John McCain slams the fact that Syria make a bigger issue of the bloody civil war in Syria.
@JohnMcCain tweets "Disappointed but not surprised by the President's failure to seriously address the issue of 60,000 dead in #Syria #SOTU
0341 GMT: After speaking passionately about the importance of Medicare, Rubio begins to struggle with the words and is forced to wipe sweat from his lip. He moves out of camera range and grabs a bottle of water for a sip.
He recovers quickly, though, and moves onto to outline his very different vision for the United States.
“Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren't millionaires. They're retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They're workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy. The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security. So Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.”
0335 GMT: Rubio, in an office in the US Capitol, takes the chance to slam Obama's economic plans as touting big government and high taxes.
“Economic growth is the best way to help the middle class. Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012. But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle class jobs.
Tax increases can't do this. Raising taxes won't create private sector jobs. And there's no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That's why I hope the president will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy.”
0325 GMT: Obama has closed his address and is making his way out of the hall with more hand-shaking and back-slapping. Now we are waiting for the traditional response from the opposing party.
Tonight's Republican response is coming from Senator Marco Rubio, a rising conservative star. He will also give a response in Spanish.
0320 GMT: A big standing ovation went to one of the first lady's guests, Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old woman from Miami who was forced to wait for hours to vote in the presidential election.
0315 GMT: His demands for a vote on gun control proposals gets the best reception of the night, with Democrats on their feet, shouting approval.
"Hadiya's parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote. 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!
0308 GMT: The president has moved onto the controversial issue of gun control. He notes the death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old student.
"Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration," Obama says. "And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile (1.6 kilometers) away from my house."
0255 GMT: Obama is touting his fight against Al-Qaeda and beginning of the end of the war in Afghanistan.
Al-Qaeda is now a "shadow" of the group that was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US. Without mentioning the controversial drone program, Obama vows to use any means necessary to protect Americans from terrorists. "Where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans," he says
0249 GMT: "Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my administration has already made – putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years.
Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship – a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.
And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy, and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy."
0246 GMT: After a discussion of education reform, Obama moves onto one of his big agenda items for his second term: immigration reform.
0241 GMT: Obama gets a rousing response from Democrats with a proposal to offer affordable preschool to all Americans. When he notes that not everyone can afford such quality early education, in a breach of clap-only etiquette, someone shouted, "That's right!"
0237 GMT: To the delight of environmentalists, Obama is urging lawmakers to tackle the complex issue of climate change, after being notably quiet on the issue during his first term.
"We can choose to believe that superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence," Obama says. "Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it's too late."
"If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy," he says.
0233 GMT: Seated with the first lady are several business people including Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple and the victims of gun violence. A teacher, a star science student and the child of illegal immigrants are also joining her. Also in the hall, musician and gun rights activist Ted Nugent, a guest of Representative Steve Stockman.
0225 GMT: Obama is deep into domestic policy, highlighting his budget policies, health care reform, and the need for bipartisan cooperation.
"The greatest nation on Earth cannot conduct its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to another. We can't do it."
0219 GMT: Four standing ovations into the night, the president gets to the meat of his policy proposals. He starts with a warning against looming budget cuts threatened by some of his opponents in Congress would jeopardize military readiness and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.
"That's why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as 'the sequester', are a really bad idea," Obama says.
0217 GMT: Obama wastes no time getting to the money quote after noting an improving economy and an end to a decade-long war: "We can say with renewed confident, that the state of our union is stronger."
0212 GMT: More hand-shaking and back-slapping as the president makes his way down the aisle. Lots of bipartisan good will on display before the speechmaking starts. Obama is wearing a pale blue tie with a blue suit and flag pin. Notably, he is not wearing the green and silver ribbon in his lapel. He gets a standing ovation from the entire crowd as he is introduced.
0208 GMT: Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving has just announced Obama with the traditional cry: "Mister Speaker, the president of the United States!"
0204 GMT: Vice President Joe Biden, who also serves as president of the Senate, is seated at the front of the chamber. He, along with dozens of Democratic lawmakers, is wearing a green and silver ribbon on his lapel to show his support for gun control. The colors are in honor of the 26 people killed in the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
0200 GMT: First Lady Michelle Obama has taken her seat, looking radiant in a sleeveless, shimmering red dress with black shoulders from Jason Wu, the lucky designer who also made both of her inaugural gowns. Most of the cabinet has entered the room, making their way down floor with lots of hand shaking and shoulder slapping.
0154 GMT: As an annual televised spectacle, the speech has developed into a bit of a cultural event, complete with drinking games, widely circulated on the Internet. The games have cues like, "Drink every time the Democrats stand and cheer" or "drink every time the president says 'let me clear,' one of his favorite turns of phrase. Since decorum and protocol are key at a Washington event like this one, a big interruption from a Republican lawmaker would require "finish the the bottle."
0150 GMT: With the president, vice president, lawmakers, cabinet secretaries and most Supreme Court justices in one building, security in extremely tight. By tradition, one member of the president's cabinet stays away in case of an attack or catastrophe. Tonight the honor goes to outgoing Energy Secretary Stephen Chu.
In a sign of the times, reporters were schooled in how to don "escape hoods" in the event of a fire or biological attack in the US Capitol.
WELCOME to AFP's Live Report on President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
According to the US Constitution, the president must "from time to time, give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union." What was once a written report has evolved into an annual address to a joint session Congress and, in the age of television, a speech to the nation.
Presidents use the speech as a chance to lay out their agenda for the coming year. Tonight Obama will vow to reignite the US economy, announce that he will halve the number of US troops in Afghanistan, push for gun control and immigration reform.
As presidents use the speech to push policy, both parties use the occasion for political theater. His Democrats will to take every opportunity to give Obama a standing ovation, while Republicans will stay in their seats. The White House will bring several guests to sit with Michelle Obama her in the First Lady's box, all stand-ins for causes the president wants to hightlight, while Republican lawmakers will invite rivals.
The speech is due to start in about 20 minutes when we'll such just how dramatic the show will get.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency