As might be expected, Democratic lawmakers hailed Barack Obama’s State of the Union performance while Republicans sharply disagreed.
“I thought it was just terrific," said Senator Barbara Boxer of California. "I think what he did in this speech was to have an adult conversation with the Congress and the American people.”
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“I did not think it was one of his stronger speeches, and I think this is going to be quickly forgotten,” stated Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming.
Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey had high praise for Mr. Obama’s economic proposals.
“I think the message of building an economy that lasts is exactly what my constituents want to hear. We want to make sure we create jobs, jobs that last, bringing back manufacturing - that is very important to my constituents," said Pallone. "We have lost a lot of jobs over the last 20 years overseas.”
But Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina said the president’s economic agenda will bring nothing but hardship.
“The vision of higher taxes destroys jobs. And the proposals he had destroy jobs at a time when we have record unemployment," said Wilson. "His prior policies of spending have not been successful.”
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If domestic politics continue to spawn hyper-partisanship at the Capitol, some of the president’s foreign policy pronouncements were well received by Republicans and Democrats alike. Republican Congressman James Lankford of Oklahoma applauded Obama’s tough stance on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“That is the clearest statement he has made on Iran that I have heard, ever, that we are not going to tolerate a nuclear Iran. There was wide bipartisan agreement on that,” said Lankford.
“I would imagine that the mullahs [in Iran] and [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad are trembling as they wake up in Iran this morning,” said Missouri Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.
Many legislators of both parties also endorsed a get-tough policy when it comes to China’s trade practices.
“There is not a business I have talked to that does business in or with China that does not have a serious complaint about intellectual theft, whether it is in the retail sector, or the software manufacturing sector, or the manufacturing sector,” said Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly.
President Obama’s call for bipartisanship and a sense of common purpose in confronting America’s challenges got a varied response from legislators.
One Democratic representative said that members of Congress absolutely must work together, even during an election year like this one, or the nation will suffer. A Republican representative noted Mr. Obama made a similar plea in last year’s State of the Union address, adding that, with rare exception, it went unheeded.