Obama strikes optimistic note in final State of the Union address

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama, entering the final year of his presidency, urged Americans Tuesday night to rekindle belief in the promise of change that first carried him to the White House, declaring that the country must not allow fear and division to take hold.

See Full Article

"It's easier to be cynical, to accept that change isn't possible and politics is hopeless," Obama said in his final State of the Union address. "But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future."

At the heart of Obama's address to both chambers of Congress and a prime-time television audience was an implicit call to keep Democrats in the White House for a third straight term. He struck back at critics who have challenged his economic and national security stewardship, calling it all "political hot air."

In a swipe at some Republican presidential candidates, he warned against "voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don't look like us or pray like us or vote like we do or share the same background."

His words were unexpectedly echoed by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was selected to give the Republican response to Obama's address. Underscoring how the heated campaign rhetoric about immigrants and minorities from Republican front-runner Donald Trump in particular has unnerved some party leaders, Haley called on Americans to resist the temptation "to follow the siren call of the angriest voices."

"No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome," Haley said in excerpts released ahead of her remarks.

Seeking to shape his own legacy, Obama ticked through a retrospective of his domestic and foreign policy actions in office, including helping lead the economy back from the brink of depression, taking aggressive action on climate change and ending a Cold War freeze with Cuba.

Yet he was frank about one of his biggest regrets: failing to ease the persistently deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans.

"The rancour and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better," he conceded. "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."

Mindful of the scant prospect for major legislative action in an election year, Obama avoided the traditional litany of policy proposals. He did reiterate his call for working with Republicans on criminal justice reform and finalizing an Asia-Pacific trade pact, and he also vowed to keep pushing for action on politically fraught issues such as curbing gun violence and fixing the nation's fractured immigration laws.

Yet Obama was eager to look beyond his own presidency, casting the actions he's taken as a springboard for future economic progress and national security. His optimism was meant to draw a contrast with what the White House sees as doom-and-gloom scenarios peddled by the Republicans.

"The United States of America is the most powerful nation on earth. Period," he declared. "It's not even close."

The State of the Union address, a kind of annual progress report from the president, represents one of Obama's last opportunities to claim a large television audience as president. However, the address has suffered a major drop-off in viewers in recent years.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • North Korea replaces border guards following defection

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - North Korea appears to have replaced all of its guards at a jointly patrolled border area where a North Korean soldier defected last week under a hail of gunfire, South Korean media said Friday. Source
  • Trudeau to apologize to excluded residential school students

    Canada News CTV News
    GOOSE BAY, N.L. - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Goose Bay today to apologize for abuse and cultural losses at residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. Former students at five schools in the province were left out of a compensation package and national apology in 2008 by former prime minister Stephen Harper. Source
  • Flynn breaks with Trump team on Mueller probe

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - It's a move that could signal co-operation with special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. Lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have told U.S. President Donald Trump's legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about Mueller's investigation. Source
  • Eight claiming to be North Korean fishermen wash ashore in Japan

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO - Japanese authorities were investigating Friday eight men found on Japan's northern coast who say they are from North Korea and washed ashore after their boat broke down. Investigators believe the men are not defectors and wish to return home, according to Japanese media reports. Source
  • Oscar Pistorius's sentence more than doubled to 13 years, 5 months

    World News CBC News
    South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday increased Oscar Pistorius's murder sentence to 13 years and five months after the state argued that his original sentence of six years was "shockingly lenient." Pistorius was imprisoned in July last year after being found guilty on appeal of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013 in a case that attracted worldwide interest. Source
  • Zimbabweans preparing to greet country's new leader

    World News CTV News
    HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabweans converged on a stadium ahead of the presidential inauguration Friday of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who will become the country's second leader since independence from white minority rule in 1980. Mnangagwa, fired earlier this month as vice-president, is poised to lead after the resignation of 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, who succumbed to pressure to quit from the military, the ruling party and massive demonstrations. Source
  • Hamilton school bus driver charged in alleged abduction of 14-year-old girl

    Canada News CTV News
    Hamilton police say a 70-year-old school bus driver is facing abduction charges after several alleged incidents involving a 14-year-old girl. Police allege the developmentally delayed girl was abducted four times in late October while being driven to and from school in the city's east end. Source
  • China reports breaking up gang that moved $3 billion abroad

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - Chinese police say they have broken up a gang that smuggled 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) out of the country, evading financial controls imposed by Beijing to stem an outflow of capital from the economy. Source
  • Texas trooper killed during traffic stop; suspect arrested

    World News CTV News
    FAIRFIELD, Texas - A Texas state trooper was shot and killed during a traffic stop in East Texas on Thanksgiving. The Texas Department of Public Safety released a statement on its Twitter account Thursday night identifying the trooper as Damon Allen, 41. Source
  • Chinese authorities look into kindergarten abuse claims

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - Chinese authorities are investigating allegations that children attending a kindergarten in Beijing run by a U.S.-listed company have been abused and molested. The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education said Friday it would inspect kindergartens in the Chinese capital, a day after the reports drew widespread attention. Source