In his State of the Union Speech Tuesday night, US President Barack Obama told Americans that there is hope of a better future as the "shadow of crisis has passed" after an extended period of time that saw American politics dominated by wars, recession and the threat of terror. He added that the time has now come for the nation to "turn the page."
In the message where Obama has also been widely understood to be making a pitch for 'economic populism' the leader touted the improving economy on his watch also outlining a vision for "middle-class economics" and pledging to "restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American."
The President also touched upon the crisis of terrorism calling on the US Congress to pass a new authorisation of force against the notorious ISIS group in Syria and Iraq and also to impose new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear proliferation.
He also defended his December's decision to normalise relations with the Communist Cuba and urged the Congress to lift the economic embargo against Havana, which has been in place for over 50 years.
Here are top quotes and reactions from Obama's State of the Union Address. The full transcript of the Speech has been posted by White House in Medium.com.
Top 5 Quotes:
"At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come. Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?"
On ISIL, Terrorism
"In Iraq and Syria, American leadership — including our military power — is stopping ISIL's advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.... I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL."
On Russia/ Putin's "Aggression"
We're upholding the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine's democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin's aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.
That's how America leads — not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve."
"In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you're doing doesn't work for fifty years, it's time to try something new. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo."
On Cyber Threats
"No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism... If we don't act, we'll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe."
"In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola — saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. I couldn't be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts. But the job is not yet done — and the world needs to use this lesson to build a more effective global effort to prevent the spread of future pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate extreme poverty."
Top Reactions to the Speech
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said according to Associated Press:
"Finding common ground is what the American people sent us here to do, but you wouldn't know it from the president's speech tonight. While veto threats and unserious proposals may make for good political theater, they will not distract this new American Congress from our focus on the people's priorities."
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa said in his official GOP response to Obama's speech:
"Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare. It's a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions."
Hilary Clinton, the possible 2016 presidential candidate said via Twitter:
"#SOTU pointed way to an economy that works for all. Now we need to step up & deliver for the middle class."
2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said via Facebook:
"True to form, the President in his State of the Union speech is more interested in politics than in leadership. More intent on winning elections than on winning progress, he ignores the fact that the country has elected a Congress that favors smaller government and lower taxes. Rather than bridging the gap between the parties, he makes 'bridge to nowhere' proposals. Disappointing."
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said via Twitter:
"Obama claims his budget is practical, not partisan — what about it being balanced?"
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said via Twitter:
"The President wants to grow the economy in Washington. We want to grow the economy in cities and towns and villages all across America."