President Obama: And we can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.
Maggie: This was the president’s seventh big address before a joint session of Congress. Mr. Obama challenged Congress to spend more on the nation’s education system.
President Obama: To redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. And we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math.
Maggie: Investing in job creation was another major theme of last night’s speech.
President Obama: I propose a ‘fix-it-first’ program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.
Maggie: And Mr. Obama urged Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour.
Many of the lawmakers and guests in the House Chamber wore green ribbons in honor of the victims of December’s Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.
As the parents of murdered Chicago honor student Hadiya Pendleton looked on, Mr. Obama said now is the time for tougher steps against gun violence.
President Obama: If you want to vote ‘no,’ that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.
Maggie: Mr. Obama referred to recent weather headlines as he urged lawmakers to tackle the topic of climate change.
President Obama: 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. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it’s too late.
Maggie: President Obama also made a major announcement about troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
President Obama: Over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue, and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.
Maggie: Florida Senator Marco Rubio offered the Republican Party’s official response to the president’s State of the Union address.
Senator Marco Rubio: His solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more. 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. If we can get our economy healthy again, our children will be the most prosperous Americans ever. And if we do not, we will forever be known as the generation responsible for America’s decline.
Maggie: Last night, the White House streamed an enhanced version of the president’s speech, adding in graphics, charts and facts about the specific issues.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.