After delivering a lofty inaugural address to set the tone of his second term, President Obama got down to the details of what he hopes to accomplish. As Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address, the proud first lady watched from the audience, joining Supreme Court justices and members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The president gave Michelle Obama a shout-out during the speech — saying, "Thank you, honey!" — to commend her work for military families with Dr. Jill Biden.
Unlike at the inauguration, Sasha and Malia stayed home — presumably to do their homework. Instead, First Lady Michelle Obama was joined by Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton, parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was murdered on Jan. 29. The president retold her story: "She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends; they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house."
It was a symbolic reminder of what is at stake in the gun-control debate. Other guests referenced that debate, including gun-violence victim and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and actor and gun-rights activist Ted Nugent, who both attended the address.
In his speech, the president directly addressed gun control in the context of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. He said, "It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans — Americans who believe in the second amendment — have come together around commonsense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun."
Lots of Love For Women
The president also talked economy, arguing that it is stronger when "our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace and free from the fear of domestic violence." He continued, "Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago." The president then used the occasion to urge the House of Representatives to also pass the Violence Against Women Act and to "declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year."
Much of the address — which touched on the budget, deficit, partisan gridlock, economic recovery, immigration, and climate change — echoed Obama's campaign rhetoric, and he even gave a shout-out to gay rights: "It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country — the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love."
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