WASHINGTON - In his first State of the Union address of his presidency, President Obama declared to Congress and Americans that "I don't quit," as he urged congressional leaders to work together.
Nicole Kurokawa is a senior policy analyst with Independent Women's Voice. She appeared on CBN News' Thursday Midday program to provide an analysis of the president's State of the Union address. Click here for her comments.
CBN News Washington Correspondent Jennifer Wishon got reaction from both parties following Obama's speech. Click play to watch.
Also, watch the entire speech here.
The speech was delivered before a packed House Chamber Wednesday night and watched by millions on TV and online.
Obama admitted that the change his campaign was built on has not come fast enough. He acknowledged the nation's economic troubles before affirming the strength the nation.
"Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We don't allow fear or division to break our spirit," he said.
Read a play-by-play of the State of the Union and GOP address here.
The President challenged Congress, namely the Senate, to come up with legislation that will pave the way for jobs, financial regulatory reform, clean energy, health care, and education.
"We face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope - what they deserve - is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics," he said.
A big focus of the speech was the economy.
"Jobs must be our number one focus in 2010," the President said. He credited the $787 billion stimulus bill with saving some jobs and said we are on track to add 1.5 million more jobs by the end of the year. He admitted to having to swallow hard for the bank bailout.
"If there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it.You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal," he said. Obama pledged to work with Congress to push for financial regulatory reform so that American consumers are better informed.
Obama also set a goal of doubling our exports over the next five years. He's pushing for education reform, saying it's time that American kids get on track with their Asian counterparts. More details of his administration's education proposals will be rolled out in the coming days, but expect to hear a lot about making college affordable, and overhauling the No Child Left Behind act.
Health Care, Iraq, Afghanistan
The President got some laughs as he introduced the topic of health care reform.
"Now let's be clear - I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt," he explained. "And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics."
He did spend a large portion of his time on he topic of health care, not showing any sign that he has any plans to back down on the issue.
"I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills," he reminded Democrats.
President Obama urged Democrats and Republicans both to remember why they ran, why they're in Washington, and to try to find common ground to work together to better the lives of the American people. He pledged to cut the deficit, which brought members of both parties to their feet in applause.
He updated the state of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying troops are gaining ground in Afghanistan and saying he is fulfilling his campaign promise to draw down troops in Iraq.
President Obama also said he will seek this year to end the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
On foreign policy, he mentioned both North Korea and Iran by name, saying the international community is more united, and countries who don't play by the rules will face growing consequences.
The Republican response was given by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, now in his eleventh day in office, delivered the Republican response before a live audience in Virginia's State House in Richmond. He also started off talking about the economy.
"Good government policy should spur economic growth and strengthen the private sector's ability to create new jobs" he said.
McDonnell stuck with the theme that local government is more effective than big government.
"Without reform, the excessive growth of government threatens our very liberty and prosperity," he said
"The amount of this debt is on pace to double in five years, and triple in ten," he said. "This is simply unsustainable. The President's partial freeze on discretionary spending is a laudable step, but a small one. The circumstances of our time demand that we reconsider and restore the proper, limited role of government at every level."
McDonnell talked about looking forward to working with President Obama and the Democrats especially on issues like education and the clean energy.
President Obama will keep the tradition of taking his State of the Union themes on the road. Later this week, he heads to Florida, then to Maryland, and New Hampshire. On the road, he'll speak about high speed rail development, and clean energy jobs. Cabinet officials will be touring the country as well. The White House will specifically try to draw attention to its economic team.