President urges Americans to avoid cynicism, work together


In his final State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama chided cynics, defended the economy, warned terrorists, and called for a cancer cure.

There was more in the speech, too. You can read the full text here or watch the video here.

But here's a look at a few of the themes the president raised:

1. Better politics, not cynicism

In calling for "a better politics," Obama said the challenges facing the country can only be overcome if Americans "can have rational, constructive debates," USA Today reports.

He said that by working together, Americans "just might surprise the cynics again," Bloomberg notes.

But he acknowledged that during his presidency the divisions between Democrats and Republicans have gotten worse, calling that one of his biggest regrets, the Associated Press says.

2. Defense of the economy

President Obama took exception with Republican critics who have argued on the campaign trail that the U.S. economy is only limping along.

FOX News says he called America's economy the most durable in the world and said it has improved under his watch.

He called criticisms of his economic stewardship "political hot air," the AP reports.

3. On terrorism: "ask bin Laden"

Obama said terrorist groups should know that "When you come after Americans, we go after you." ABC News reports he added "If you doubt America's commitment or mine to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden."

FOX News says the president downplayed the threat posed by Islamic State, saying the terrorist fighters "do not threaten our national existence."

4. Cure cancer

The president also called on America to "cure cancer once and for all." Obama recalled that last year Vice-President Joe Biden had said that "with one moonshot, America can cure cancer." Obama announced a new national effort to get it done and said "I'm putting Joe in charge of Mission Control."

Republican response

After Obama's speech, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivered the Republican response, telling the country “Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction." You can watch Haley's address here.

Some reaction from Minnesota

Here's a look at some of the reaction from a handful of Minnesota's U.S. lawmakers:

Sen. Al Franken (D)

Franken in an email statement said he was "pleased to see [Obama] focus on things that are important to Minnesotans," including the economy and national security. However, Franken was "especially pleased" when the president spoke about climate change, which the senator calls "one of the gravest threats that we face as a people.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D)

On Facebook, Rep. Ellison praised Obama for laying out "a vision for a more inclusive, tolerant, and fair America." Ellison also said Congress' Progressive Caucus (which he is part of) "will continue to do its part for Americans who work hard and play by the rules."

Rep. Tom Emmer (R)

Rep. Tom Emmer used Twitter to have staffers reiterate some of the representative's stances – including what he feels has been "disastrous" foreign policy in the Middle East, and his belief in the importance of a good Internet connection.

Rep. Rick Nolan (D)

In a statement, Nolan said he felt the State of the Union's overall message was, "Keep rebuilding America" – which includes better jobs and educational opportunities, as well as health treatment options. He also said he applauds Obama for arguing military should not be the only thing that shows the United States' leadership in the world, but also "the success of our diplomacy and the strength of our economy and our people as we work to bring nations together to address climate change, fight hunger, reduce the nuclear threat and engage our allies in the pursuit of peace, human development and justice for all."

Next Up