Overcast 25° Good Afternoon
Overcast 25° Good Afternoon

2016 State of the Union: What Obama said on major issues, and what Republicans say about them

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Photo Credit: AP

See notable quotes that President Barack Obama has delivered in his final State of the Union -- and what Republicans, including those seeking to succeed him in office, have to say about those issues.

On the Islamic State:

OBAMA: Terrorists must be stopped, he said. "But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence," Obama said.

"That's the story ISIL wants to tell; that's the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don't need to build them up to show that we're serious, and we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world's largest religions. We just need to call them what they are -- killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed."

WHAT REPUBLICANS SAY: Republicans say Obama has been slow to react and too restrained in applying military power in fighting the rise of Islamic State as the terrorist group and its adherents have extended their deadly violence beyond Iraq and Syria to Europe and the United States. Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are among those advocating expanding the role of U.S. ground troops to reclaim territory from the terrorists. Cruz and Trump have called for a stepped-up use of airpower. Trump also said the U.S. should kill the families of the terrorists.

On reigniting the American 'spirit of innovation':

OBAMA: "Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn't deny Sputnik was up there. We didn't argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon."

On the political divide:

OBAMA: The president said the increasing "rancor" in politics is one of his biggest regrets as he prepares to leave the White House a year from now.

"It doesn't work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn't matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest," Obama said.

"Too many Americans feel that way right now. It's one of the few regrets of my presidency -- that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There's no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I'll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office."

WHAT REPUBLICANS SAY: “A frustration with a government that has grown day after day, year after year, yet doesn’t serve us any better. A frustration with the same, endless conversations we hear over and over again," South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in the official Republican response.

“We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around," Haley continued, adding:

“We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.

“And then we need to fix it."

On targeting people based on race, religion:

OBAMA: Obama warned about targeting people because of race and religion. "This isn't a matter of political correctness," the president said. "It's a matter of understanding what makes us strong ... His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that 'to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.' When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn't make us safer. That's not telling it like it is. It's just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world."

WHAT REPUBLICANS SAY: "Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation," Haley said.

"No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country." But, she noted, "At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can't do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined."

On a cure for cancer:

OBAMA: Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son to brain cancer last year, will be in charge of "Mission Control" in a new effort to find a cure for cancer, Obama said. "For the loved ones we've all lost, for the family we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all," Obama said.

On the Affordable Care Act:

OBAMA: "Now, I'm guessing we won't agree on health care anytime soon," Obama joked, a reference to his veto last week of the GOP-led repeal of his signature healthcare law, which requires most adults to have health insurance. He said "basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today" and that Social Security and Medicare should be strengthened.

WHAT REPUBLICANS SAY: Republicans have fought for years to scrap "Obamacare" and for the first time last week put a repeal bill on Obama's desk. He vetoed it. There is no consensus in the GOP on what should replace a health care system that has more than 11 million people signed up through government exchanges and sets rules for private insurance.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said the party should develop proposals this year. Trump says he'd replace ACA with "something terrific" but has not offered specifics. Rubio favors a "market-driven alternative." Bush would offer tax credits to help the uninsured buy coverage.

On income inequality:

OBAMA: "Food stamp recipients didn't cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren't the reason wages haven't gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It's sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts," Obama said.

"In this new economy, workers and startups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The rules should work for them. And this year I plan to lift up the many businesses who've figured out that doing right by their workers ends up being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America."

On military spending:

OBAMA: Protecting Americans is the first priority, he said. “The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period,” Obama said. “It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.”

WHAT REPUBLICANS SAY: “And rather than just thanking our brave men and women in uniform, we would actually strengthen our military, so both our friends and our enemies would know that America seeks peace, but when we fight wars we win them," Haley said in the Republican response.

Most of the GOP presidential contenders contend America's military has grown weaker under Obama and the trend must be reversed. Bush said when he announced his candidacy that "we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future." Rubio and Cruz also call for a stronger military, and Trump has said, "We have to make our military bigger, better, stronger than ever." Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul dissents; he wants a less interventionist foreign policy.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

OBAMA: The agreement, negotiated last year with Pacific Rim countries to reduce tariffs and improve trade, needs congressional approval to counter China's influence, he said: "China doesn't set the rules in that region, we do. You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it."

WHAT REPUBLICANS SAY: Republicans generally supportive of free trade have expressed misgiving about details of the agreement, including its impact on particular industries. Distrust of Obama is also part of the equation, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has suggested putting off a vote until after the elections or after the next president takes office. GOP presidential candidates are divided. Bush and Rubio are among the most supportive of the deal. Cruz is against it, and Trump calls it a "terrible deal" and "an attack on America's business."

On coalition building:

OBAMA: To defeat terrorists, the United States must build relations, not solve the world's problems alone, Obama said. "We also can't try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis," he said. "That's not leadership; that's a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It's the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq -- and we should have learned it by now." In Syria, the nation has partnered with local forces and international efforts, Obama said, and in Iran, diplomacy has led to the nation shipping out its uranium bomb-building stockpile.

On Guantanamo Bay:

OBAMA: The prison in Cuba for the U.S.'s wartime enemies must be closed, he said, and he will continue pushing for that. "It is expensive ... It only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies."

WHAT REPUBLICANS SAY: Republicans have adamantly opposed closing the prison, arguing that many of those being confined there are terrorists who pose a threat to national security.

News Photos and Videos