Live Updates: Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address

AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool
AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool

Breitbart News is providing live coverage of President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address, with live updates during the President’s speech summarizing his remarks and capturing reactions from the Breitbart News team on Twitter.

11:00 PM EST: Live updates winding down. Read Breitbart News coverage of the political world’s reactions to Obama’s SOTU:

Senator Rand Paul’s remarks

Senator Jeff Sessions: Obama’s middle-class message is undermined by his concessions to illegal immigrants

Rep. Curt Clawson delivers the official Tea Party response

Gov. Scott Walker: Obama Now A ‘Lame Duck President’

Joni Ernst Ignores Executive Amnesty in SOTU Response

White House Fails To Cite Any Sources In ‘Fact Sheet’ Supporting Obama SOTU

10:57 PM EST: Sen. Angus King (I-ME) says congressional authorization of military action against the Islamic State is “past due,” then says Congress is waiting on language from President Obama.

10:55 PM EST: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) tells MSNBC he won’t be showing up on a presidential ticket with Hillary Clinton in 2016, but he doesn’t make the same denial for his twin brother Julian. Focuses in on Obama’s mention of criminal justice reform from tonight’s speech as his pet issue.

10:49 PM EST: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) mentions “two things that were glaringly absent” from Obama’s speech: his executive actions on immigration, which Cruz says shows Obama knows the act is a “political loser for him.” Cruz points out that Obama also failed to use the phrase “radical Islamic terror.”

10:44 PM EST: Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) makes the case against the “living wage” to MSNBC, saying that “artificially raising the cost of labor” will not make the kind of jobs that pay minimum wage able to sustain a long-term career. He says the economy should be creating “more head-of-household jobs” instead of ones for those who are younger and just starting in the work force. Holds his own well against Rachel Maddow.

10:42 PM EST: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tells CNN in multiple ways that Obama was non-partisan and “uplifting” with this year’s SOTU.

10:34 PM EST: Ernst goes back to her family’s history to make an optimistic prediction of America’s future. They lived with very little but made it: “you don’t need to come from wealth or privilege” to make it in America, she asserts.

10:33 PM EST: Ernst draws a distinction between “meaningful reforms” and “higher taxes like the President has proposed.”

10:31 PM EST: Ernst on terrorism rising around the globe: “Threats like these can’t just be wished away.”

10:30 PM EST: Ernst pushes higher exports through better trade agreements with Europe. Calls for reform of “outdated and loophole-ridden tax code.”

10:29 PM EST: Ernst blasts the “stale mindset that gave us Obamacare.” First policy mention is Obama’s delay/veto threat against Keystone XL. Emphasizes bipartisan support for the bill and puts pressure on Obama.

10:27 PM EST: Ernst giving lots of bio–modest background, working on the farm, bags over her shoes on rainy days, and now she’s a mother and a soldier.

10:26 PM EST: Freshman senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) begins the GOP response… wearing camo heels.

10:20 PM EST: Final takes.


10:13 PM EST: Topics not mentioned in this year’s SOTU: Al Qaeda, Rape (regarding recent controversies over universities’ handling of alleged sexual assault), Guns (though he did mention Newtown), Israel, Yemen, Nigeria/Boko Haram.

10:11 PM EST: Obama concludes by again citing the Erler family, likening America to a “tight-knit family”:

I want them to grow up in a country where a young mom like Rebekah can sit down and write a letter to her President with a story to sum up these past six years:   “It is amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”   My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times. Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America. We’ve laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter — together — and let’s start the work right now.   Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.

10:07 PM EST: Another ad-lib: “I have no more campaigns to run. [light laughter] I know, because I won both of ’em. [laughter]”


10:05 PM EST: Obama says the right to vote is being “denied to too many.” Does extend an olive branch of empathy to police when mentioning Ferguson.

We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American. We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.


10:03 PM EST: POTUS gives some flowery language against partisanship and demonizing our enemies, bringing up two more wedge issues as examples of where both sides can agree:

We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.   Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.


10:02 PM EST: Obama uses same-sex marriage as his chief example of the unity he’s observed during his two terms. 10:00 PM EST: Obama addresses critics who point out that America feels more divided under his watch. He admits the concerns are widespread, then says he doesn’t believe them.

Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn’t delivered on this vision. How ironic, they say, that our politics seems more divided than ever. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it.   I know how tempting such cynicism may be. But I still think the cynics are wrong.


9:58 PM EST: Obama promises a report next month to show how he can protect privacy while still defending against terror threats. 9:56 PM EST: Obama lumps together torture, drones, anti-Semitism, “stereotypes of Muslims,” and persecution of minorities. Uses this paragraph to launch into a renewed promise to close Guantanamo Bay.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.


9:53 PM EST: Obama launches into climate change spiel: “no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” Warns of all sorts of natural disasters:

The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.


9:52 PM EST: Obama reminds the audience that “the job is not yet done” fighting the Ebola virus. 9:50 PM EST: Obama says new sanctions against Iran are no good and vows to veto, equating them to “going to war.” Says of Iran: “we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.” 9:48 PM EST: Obama touts his recent shift in Cuba policy, mocking the previous policy and calling on Congress to end the U.S. embargo against the Castro regime. Gives a shout-out to former prisoner Alan Gross, who stands with fist raised.

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.


9:47 PM EST: Obama calls passing sanctions against Russia “hard work.” 9:45 PM EST: Obama declares victory in Afghanistan–and against the Islamic State.

Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. 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. We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, 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.

9:44 PM EST: Obama shifts to foreign policy, attacking the idea of using military power as a first option. Claims that his unique approach has already improved the world:

We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.


9:43 PM EST: Obama goes populist in a sales pitch for changes to the tax code: “We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy.” 9:42 PM EST: Obama wants to re-energize America’s space program.

9:40 PM EST: Obama announces a “Precision Medicine Initiative… to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.”

9:39 PM EST: Obama pushes Net Neutrality–not using that term but calling it “a free and open Internet.” 9:38 PM EST: Obama pushes new trade deals that “aren’t just free, but fair” to encourage outsourcers to bring jobs back from China.

9:36 PM EST: Obama pushes for better “infrastructure,” as he often does, but instead of roads and bridges, he zeroes in on the Internet:

…the third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy anywhere, the place where businesses want to locate and hire. 21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet.

9:34 PM EST: President Obama declares victory over the Veterans Affairs healthcare scandal:

Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs. [emphasis added]


9:33 PM EST: Obama ties the high school talking point to today–that “two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.”

9:31 PM EST: Obama begins his transition in the “free community college pitch.”

America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world.

9:29 PM EST: Obama shames Congress to raise the minimum wage. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise. 9:26 PM EST: President Obama calls on Congress to have a vote on expanded paid sick leave for workers.

9:26 PM EST: Obama repeats his call for more government day care/preschool from previous SOTU speeches: “We need affordable, high-quality child care more than ever. It’s not nice to have; it’s a must-have… [a] national economic priority.” 9:24 PM EST: Obama repeating the phrase “middle-class economics.”

First — middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement — and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.

9:23 PM EST: Obama makes the transition from “everything’s great” to “here’s what I want to do.”

[T]hose of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. We need to do more than just do no harm. Tonight, together, let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American.

9:21 PM EST: POTUS ad-libs after reciting figures claiming a strong economy: “This is good news, people.”

9:19 PM EST: Obama boasting several times about lower gas prices in America—claiming new fuel efficiency standards are part of the trend.

9:18 PM EST: Obama uses the story of Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis, a middle class couple. Their story is “our story,” he declares. “They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation.” 9:16 PM EST: Obama frames America’s path as a choice between two dichotomous extremes: helping the very rich vs. helping “everyone who makes the effort.” A “fearful and reactive” interventionism vs. a strategy to “lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet.” Partisan factions vs. “the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward.” 9:15 PM EST: “The shadow of crisis has passed,” Obama declares, ” and the state of the union is strong.” Democrats give a standing ovation, Republicans stay seated. 9:14 PM EST: Obama declares “mission accomplished” in Afghanistan. 9:12 PM EST: Obama framing this speech as “turning the page” on the concerns of the Aughts, hit with newfound awareness of terrorism and economic uncertainty. Obama touts the current unemployment rate, lowered by a record number of Americans dropping out of the work force entirely and ending their search for employment.

9:10 PM EST: Brutal reminder:

9:05 PM EST: Obama begins walking down the aisle. 9:00 PM EST: An SOTU first–and a few early zingers.

8:52 PM EST: The White House bypasses news organizations and posts the full text of Obama’s speech on the blogging platform Medium.

8:43 PM EST: Obama’s fashion statement for the night.

8:42 PM EST: A CNN producer and correspondent asks Joe Biden for a “thumbs up” on his way to the speech.