MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address struck an optimistic tone, combining an ambitious agenda with hope for the future. But he was less positive about the current state of things in Washington.
He pointed out some of the division in Congress and urged members to work together.
The president was also critical some of the rhetoric on the Republican campaign trail. With recent terror attacks on the minds of many Americans, Obama discussed how he plans to handle the growing threat of ISIS.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley gave the Republicans’ response. She painted an unflattering picture of Obama’s presidency and said Americans will soon have a chance to turn the page with new leadership.
A number of Minnesota politicians also offered their take on Obama’s address. Here are some of them:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
“In a heartfelt speech to all Americans the president put forward a bipartisan vision to continue moving our country forward and to get things done for the American people. He led with our progress but didn’t shy away from talking about our challenges. As the president said, there’s no question that more opportunities for bipartisan work lie ahead. To build on the progress we’ve made to strengthen the economy and move the middle class forward, we must seize them.”
Sen. Al Franken
“The President’s speech was one of unity and progress. I was pleased to see him focus on things that are important to Minnesotans—like economic prosperity and keeping our country safe—and I’m hopeful that going forward we can take his message to heart and continue working towards a stronger nation. And I was especially pleased to hear the President put such an emphasis on climate change, which I believe is one of the gravest threats that we face as a people.”
Lt Gov. Tina Smith
“Tonight, in his last State of the Union address, President Barack Obama shared his optimistic vision for America’s future. We have reason to be optimistic. Over the past seven years, the United States has recovered from the Great Recession, and in Minnesota we have a budget surplus, and more Minnesotans are working than ever before.
“President Obama was right when he said America is on the right track. So is Minnesota. But we have more work to do before this economy works for everyone, everywhere in Minnesota – not just the wealthy few. As the President said tonight, what makes America great is our capacity to change for the better. The same is true of Minnesota, where all of us need to keep working for the change we need.”
Rep. John Kline
“Tonight we heard from a President who seems more concerned with building his legacy than building a better future for our country. The President wants us to accept the failed status quo as the new normal, and this evening’s address was just the latest sales pitch. While others may be content with the status quo, Minnesotans I hear from won’t settle for business as usual from Washington.
“Fortunately, they know we can do better. The American people know our best days are ahead if we place more faith in them and less faith in Washington. That’s precisely the approach we took in our effort to improve K-12 education, and now we have a new law that empowers parents, teachers, and local school leaders to deliver the quality education every child deserves. It’s time we applied the same approach to other pressing priorities, whether it’s helping workers plan for retirement, making college more affordable, or protecting small businesses. We have shown what’s possible when we work together on behalf of the people we are elected to serve. I urge the President to join us as we work to help all Americans achieve the prosperity they deserve.
“Finally, I continue to be disappointed in the President’s refusal to change course and develop a comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS and Islamist terrorists. As we are seeing repeatedly around the world, ISIS is a determined terrorist organization using the fear they create to further radicalize and recruit. The Administration’s strategic void abroad left by an unwillingness to assert strong leadership is having consequences overseas and here at home.”
Rep. Keith Ellison
“At a time when Republican presidential candidates are building their campaigns on hatred and demagoguery, and inequality between the rich and poor grows at historic rates, President Obama not only spoke about how far we’ve come, but also laid out a vision for a more inclusive, tolerant, and fair America.
“With Congressional Republicans failing to act on economic inequality, gun violence, immigration reform, and criminal justice reform, President Obama should continue to use his authority to fight for millions of Americans during his final year in office.
“In Congress, the Progressive Caucus will continue to do its part for Americans who work hard and play by the rules. These Americans cannot afford a lost year, and with Congressional Republicans sitting on their hands, we should do all we can to improve the lives of millions.”
Rep. Erik Paulsen
“I do think there is agreement to be found with the President, and I agree with his points on promoting trade and American goods and services so that businesses can reach the 95% of customers living outside of the United States. I’m hopeful that Congress can work with him to pass trade deals that benefit Minnesota workers, businesses, and farmers in the year ahead. However, I wish he would’ve shown a commitment to other topics important to our economy: fixing a broken tax code, repealing unfunded mandates, and reforming the welfare system. It’s time to work together and give hardworking Americans a reason to believe that we’re finding solutions to our country’s most pressing problems.”