Live Report: State of the Union

by Robert MacPherson
AFP Global Edition

Jan 24, 2012 21:24 EST

0922 GMT: Obama is holding up the revival of the US auto industry as proof that America can once again be a manufacturing powerhouse. Lock-makers in Wisconsin are faring well, too, he says. He challenges business leaders to ask themselves how they can bring jobs back onto US shores, and promises to help them do so, starting with revisions to the complex US tax code.

0218 GMT: "The state of our union is getting stronger and we've come too far to turn back now," the president says. "I intend to fight obstruction with action. "

0210 GMT: Obama begins his address with a salute to the US military, which earns a standing appaluse. He declares that for the first time, Osama bin Landen is no longer a threat. The US military "exceeds all expectations," he says, asking what the United States could achieve if it followed their example.

0208 GMT: The applause for Obama is steady but not overwhelming. Obama gives a big hug to Giffords before taking his place to begin his address.

0204 GMT: The president has entered the chamber. Lots of hand-shaking as he proceeds to the podium.

0159 GMT: Michelle Obama has arrived to warm applause, as well as the Supreme Court justices, many of them in the black robes of their office, followed in turn by Obama's cabinet -- minus one member designated to stay away in the very unlikely event that the entire US leadership perishes in one fell swoop.

0157 GMT: In the run-up to tonight's address, Obama emailed his grassroots supporters around the country. "Tonight, we set the tone for the year ahead," he told them. "I'm going to lay out in concrete terms the path we need to take as a country if we want an economy that works for everyone and rewards hard work and responsibility. I'm glad to know you'll be standing with me up there."

0155 GMT: Cheers and standing applause is going out to Gabrielle Gifford, who blows a kiss in return.

0151 GMT: Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner are up on the rostrum, calling the joint session to order, ahead of the president's entrance. My colleague Olivier Knox, who is in the chamber, is scanning the crowd. "Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry's face bears the signs of the broken nose he suffered playing hockey ? large bruises on either side," he says.

0150 GMT: The State of the Union is always a grand occasion -- and a seat in the First Lady's box alongside Michelle Obama is one of the hottest tickets in town. Notable on this year's guest list: Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs of Apple fame; Mark Kelly, astronaut husband of wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; and Debbie Bosanek, who famously pays more taxes, relatively, than her boss Warren Buffett. The billionaire investor from Omaha cites her as an good example why he favors higher taxes for the rich.

0146 GMT: Obama -- whose motorcade pulled up to the Capitol a few minutes ago -- starts speaking at 9 p.m. (0200 GMT), but excerpts of his address have already come out of the White House. He'll be vowing to build a US econmy that is just "from top to bottom," -- with rich Americans being asked to bear more of the tax burden. "We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by," he'll say. "Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." And he'll add: "Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that does the same. It?s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: no bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. an America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody."

0145 GMT: Good evening from Washington, and welcome to AFP's Live Report on Barack Obama's third State of the Union address. Political analysts agree his speech to Congress marks the start of his campaign to convince Americans to re-elect him to the White House, after a first term made rocky by an ever-weak economy.

Source: AFP Global Edition


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