Obama calls State of the Union strong in final address

President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.

Mitch Felan

President Barack Obama said the State of the Union is strong in his final annual address to the American public Tuesday night.

About 30 local Democrats gathered at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center Kent State College Democrats to watch Obama’s speech.

Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to discuss topics including terrorism, economy, progress and the future of the country. 

The Kent State College Democrats watched the address at Nineteen10, the restaurant and bar in the hotel.

“I believe (Obama) is one of the best modern-era presidents. He’s faced so many daunting political obstacles and it makes me happy that he’s made it through so many of them,” College Democrats Vice President Matthew Chernesky said. “I think this event and this speech will prove as a good end to his presidency.”  

Portage County Treasurer Brad Cromes, who co-hosted and sponsored the event with the College Democrats, said he helped plan the event to commemorate Obama’s work as president. 

“It’s an opportunity to reflect and talk about the progress he’s made in the past seven-and-a-half years. It’s a chance to celebrate that and prepare ourselves for 2016,” Cromes said. 

Obama’s speech centered around four topics: the economy, technology, America’s leadership role in the world and internal politics on Capitol Hill.

“I enjoy being in the same room as people who show so much support for President Obama,” said Ashley Atherton, a senior political science major. “I’d rather watch it here in this kind of atmosphere than at home.”    

In the weeks leading up to the event, Obama said his final address would focus on “big things” and be more “non-traditional” than his previous speeches.  

“It was definitely shorter, which I appreciated,” said College Democrats membership director Anthony Erhardt, a junior paralegal studies major. “I would say he was a lot broader in this one too, as it seemed less topic-driven. His speech was more about the American spirit, the American Dream and making that possible for everyone,” said.

The speech covered many topics from Obama’s presidency, including healthcare reform of the Affordable Care Act, ISIL and the rising cost of college.

“We have to make college affordable for every American,” Obama said. “Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red.”

The speech also addressed many of the partisan conflicts currently present in Congress.

“That’s what I liked about it,” Cromes said. “It was very self-aware. He knows he’s almost done, he knows Congress isn’t going to get along and it addressed many systematic problems.”

“I thought it was very interesting how Obama pressed the American people to put aside our political interests to better the country,” Chernesky said. “His speech foreshadowed the executive action he’s going to take. He’s not going down without a fight.”

The address is an annual event for each United States president and is required by Article II of the United States Constitution. Obama’s address, which was 58 minutes 44 seconds long, marked the 94th State of the Union address in United States history.

Contact Mitch Felan at [email protected].