View the story "State of the Union: 6 things to know before watching" on Storify] State of the Union: 6 things to know before watching President Barack Obama will give his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday. Though the speech itself is a tightly kept secret, a few things are known already.
Digital First Media· Mon, Feb 11 2013 10:47:22
President Barack Obama will give his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday. Though the speech itself is a tightly kept secret, a few things are known already. Below, six things you should know before watching the State of the Union.
The speech will focus on the economy.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Although Obama will press Congress on immigration and gun control, White House officials said the speech will focus more on the continuing problem of unemployment and the stagnant economy.
The Washington Post:
"Several senior administration officials involved in the speech say he will use his fourth State of the Union address to talk about jobs after the national unemployment rate ticked up last month. He will propose ways to make college more affordable to more people. And, the officials said, he will argue for the need to spend public money - on research, on roads, on education - to prepare Americans for a world where a warming climate, a nomadic labor force and new technology are shutting doors and opening new ones across the national economy."
Gun control will also be a hot topic.
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Members of Congress generally get one guest ticket for the State of the Union. A number of Democratic lawmakers plan to bring victims of gun violence as their guests.
ABC News: "This year, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., is leading an effort to persuade lawmakers to give their guest passes to victims of gun violence. Attending the president's address will be family members of victims in some of the nation's deadliest mass shootings, including Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson and Newtown. ... Langevin, who is serving in his seventh term, has invited one of his constituents, Jim Tyrell, to attend the address. Tyrell's sister, Debbie, was murdered in 2004 during a robbery at a convenience store she owned in Providence, R.I." The wrong seat could cost a lawmaker her job.
(AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
Lawmakers often wait for up to 12 hours to get a choice seat on the aisle, which guarantees a brief moment of fame on television and a chance to greet the president on his way up to the podium. But it may actually hurt them.
National Journal: "It was supposed to be one of the best seats in the House. But getting herself an aisle spot at least year's State of the Union may have cost Jeanne Schmidt her job. Schmidt, a former Republican House member from Ohio, was taking part in a State of the Union tradition made for the age of television: staking out a perfect seat so the world can see you shaking the president's hand. Or, in the case of Schmidt, giving him a kiss on the cheek. Unfortunately for her, kissing Obama did not play well in her Republican primary last year." There's always a chance for the unexpected.
Although the State of the Union is the most heavily stage-managed event this side of "Toddlers and Tiaras," there's always a chance for something unexpected to happen.
"During Richard Nixon's 1974 address to the nation, one word gave him a bit of trouble. In describing his new plans for social programs in the U.S., Nixon stumbled, so the words that came out of his mouth were 'I urge the Congress to join me in mounting a major new effort to replace the discredited president...present welfare system...' It was an easy mistake but perhaps a telling one, as just six months later, Nixon announced he would resign as the 37th president of the United States."
Giving the Republican response will be tricky.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will give the official Republican response to the State of the Union. But a number of people who have had the job in years past have been criticized.
The Daily Beast:
"The primary reason that SOTU responses are terrible: while the president is talking to a room full of people, the responder is talking to a camera. And unless you are really extraordinarily talented, talking to a camera looks robotic. But there is an easy fix for this - two of them, in fact. The first is to practice the hell out of your response. And the second is to deliver it to a room full of people. This is how the only two decent responses in living memory - Barack Obama's, and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's - managed to transcend the traditional, disastrous, voder-vocoder style of the form."
There will be a tea party response as well.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will also give a response to the State of the Union for the conservative grassroots group the Tea Party Express, the third time the group has done so.
The Daily Caller:
"You know, I think to me I see it as an extra response. I don't see it necessarily divisive," Paul said. "You know I won't say anything on there that necessarily is like, Marco Rubio is wrong. You know, I don't always agree, but the thing is this isn't about he and I, this is about the
party, which is a grassroots movement - a real movement with millions of Americans who are still concerned about some of the deal-making that goes on in Washington, they're still concerned about the fact that we are borrowing $50,000 a second."