Flanked by a grinning Vice President Joe Biden and a stone-faced Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), Obama told the country its most formidable task will be "to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class."
That's an issue that resonated with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
"It is clear the American people are demanding action on a balanced approach to the economy and putting the middle class first," Gillibrand wrote in a statement issued after the speech.
Freshman Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) was among the lawmakers who punctuated Obama's speech with applause as the president outlined his plans for his second term. Maloney attended the speech with fellow lawmaker Chris Gibson, a Republican who represents parts of Dutchess, Ulster and Orange counties. The lawmakers sat side by side "as a small acknowledgment" that compromise is essential to moving forward, Maloney tweeted.
Biden -- along with many lawmakers -- wore a distinctive green ribbon on his lapel, a symbol for solidarity with the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings. The sartorial choice wasn't a coincidence, as gun control was another focal point of the president's speech.
Ending "the cycle of gun violence" was an essential part of the speech, Rep. Nita Lowey said. Lowey (D-Harrison) also said she was thrilled to hear the president place so much emphasis on repairing the national infrastructure.
More than any other issue the president raised, Lowey said, the infrastructure issue directly impacts the Hudson Valley -- both in terms of jobs that infrastructure projects can create and the necessity of projects like the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
Rebuilding the bridge, Lowey said, will require the cooperation of private, state and federal officials.
"The Tappan Zee Bridge needs the assistance of the federal government and we have got to do that," Lowey told Newsday. "Frankly, the idea of investing in infrastructure ... our bridges, our tunnels, our roads, means we need a partnership."