PHOENIX — President Barack Obama opened the last year of his presidency with his final State of the Union address in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, addressing topics such as strengthening the economy, curing cancer and attacking terrorist networks.
Although Obama’s hour-long speech drew more than 70 breaks for applause — approximately 30 of which were standing ovations — many lawmakers were upset with his failure to address several nationwide issues, particularly the 10 U.S. sailors currently being held by Iran.
Below are several lawmakers’ and political analysts’ reactions to Obama’s final State of the Union address.
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ):
U.S. Sen. John McCain was one of the most vocally opponent to Obama’s speech, calling it part of his “lame duck” year of presidency for his failure to address serious issues.
“As we’ve seen in Paris and San Bernardino, ISIL’s threat to our homeland is real, direct, and growing,” he said in a press release. “But President Obama squandered yet another opportunity to articulate a coherent strategy to achieve ISIL’s lasting defeat.”
In an interview with KTAR News, McCain also mentioned Obama’s failure to address the 10 sailors currently being held in Iran in a “blatant act of violation of international law.”
“That is an international blow of enormous consequences,” he said.
McCain said the next president will also need to address the challenges of the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression.
“Our nation does not need lofty words, it needs bold action,” he said in a press release. “Our nation does not need abstract calls to hope. It needs a concrete strategy to confront the challenges of a more dangerous world. Unfortunately, it appears these tasks will be left to the next president.”
Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ):
“After seven years in office, the president still doesn’t seem to understand that solutions come from Main Street, not Washington bureaucrats,” Gosar said in a press release. “The State of the Union is poor because of this failed president.”
Gosar said Obama’s attempt to fix the nation with “big government solutions” has hurt both the nation and nations abroad.
“Ultimately, this president and his administration will be defined by a legacy of lawlessness,” he said in a press release. “They have opened the door to unprecedented abuse of executive overreach that threaten the foundation of our Republic.”
Gosar addressed Obama’s weaponization of government agencies as a move to enact his partisan agenda and led to the failure of the nation’s foreign policies.
“Despite all of the forces working in D.C. to maintain our broken system, I know that there are countless Arizonans and people throughout the country who will take a bold stand with me to stop this madness,” he said in a press release. “There is too much at stake. We must continue to fight.”
U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ):
“The President’s forward-looking vision recognizes the importance of American leadership on important issues like climate change, technological development, and international security,” Gallego said in a press release.
Gallego said he wants his fellow Republicans to do their part in fixing and bettering the political agenda.
“The President has challenged Congress to fix our politics and act to do what is right for our country,” he said in a press release. “I call on my Republican colleagues to work together with Democrats to advance the priorities of the American people.”
Middle-class families also need an increased opportunity for growth in the nation, Gallego said.
“From gun control to immigration reform, we have a lot of challenges before us and it’s important to keep pushing forward,” he said in a press release. “I thank President Obama for his leadership and I look forward to working with him to make this vision a reality.”
Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ):
“We live in an increasingly complex and challenging world, where the threat of terrorism is a constant reality,” Sinema said in a press release. “Now, more than ever, Arizonans expect and deserve strong, responsible leaders who put aside partisan rhetoric and work together to make our country safer.”
Sinema called for a “clear, united and effective strategy to defeat terrorism” to make the nation a safer place for its citizens. In a press release, she said she was disappointed in Obama’s lack of addressing a need for reform at the Phoenix Veteran’s Affairs center.
“The VA should be a center of excellence, providing our veterans with world-class health care,” she said in a press release. “Our veterans deserve courage and leadership to fix the VA. I will continue fighting to reform the VA and to ensure veterans get the medical care, including mental health care, they have earned and deserve.”
Sinema said lawmakers need to work past the traditional political system that pits Democrats and Republicans against one another to increase the opportunity for local families in need.
“While we’ve seen significant progress, too many hardworking Arizona families still struggle to make ends meet. I will continue to work with anyone who has real solutions to keep our country safe, honor our veterans, grow our economy, and move Arizona families forward.”
Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ):
Congressman Matt Salmon said he believed Obama’s positivity demonstrated during his speech was too optimistic for the reality of the situation.
“I have a little bit of a different take on the way things have turned out,” he said in an interview with KTAR News.
Salmon used the decreased median income, a steady growth rate and the overall public dismay with the state of the economy as several examples showing Obama’s less-than-perfect presidency.
“The world, to me, is a lot less of a safe place than it was when Obama first started,” he said in an interview with KTAR News. “Iran has launched a couple of missiles, North Korea has detonated its third nuclear weapon. I think people are incredibly frustrated with where we are as a society and that has all happened on Obama’s watch.”
Valley Political Analyst Stan Barnes:
“I thought the President was in full sermon mode,” Barnes said in an interview with KTAR News. “He was as if a preacher telling America about itself and about its aspirations for itself. I thought it was a very different SOTU speech and, I guess, exactly what President Obama would want for his last speech.
Barnes said the speech seemed to be more aimed at the upcoming presidential election with his highly-political comments.
“It seems like it was light on substance and high on lofty, sermon-like rhetoric,” he said in an interview with KTAR News. “It turned almost Jerry McGuire at the end, with the president talking about the nature of politics at the end.”
Although Barnes said Obama lacked on his comments of the current state of the American economy, he felt he spoke strongly on the topic of terrorism.
“I think he was purposely as strong as I’ve seen him on (terrorism),” he said in an interview with KTAR News. “It’s evident that he’s concerned on his legacy on terrorism.”
Show Podcasts and Interviews
- Barack Obama endorses 3 Arizona candidates in November election
- Presidents Bush, Obama deliver moving tributes to Sen. John McCain
- Take a look at Sen. John McCain’s most memorable television moments
- A look back on John McCain’s presidential campaign history
- Why was Sen. John McCain known as a ‘maverick?’