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US AND INTERNATIONAL NEWS


President Obama’s State of the Union Address


• President Obama praises U.S. troops as a model for teamwork

• Obama calls keeping alive the American dream "the defining issue of our time"

• The Republican response criticizes the speech as divisive


Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama launches a three-day swing through key election states Wednesday after declaring in what could be his final State of the Union address that the nation was strengthening but must confront the defining issue of preserving the American dream.

In the speech Tuesday night to a joint sitting of Congress, Obama offered both his administration's priorities for the coming year and his campaign messaging for his re-election bid in November.

He defended a long list of his trademark policies -- tax increases on the wealthy, Wall Street reform, health care reform, government stimulus spending -- to applause from fellow Democrats while also offering proposals of interest to Republicans, such as corporate tax breaks and expanded oil and gas development.

Declaring "the state of our union is getting stronger," Obama said America had come too far in its still sluggish recover from economic recession "to turn back now."
With unemployment still above 8% and economic uncertainty lingering, Obama framed the challenges facing the country as a choice between opportunity for some or giving everyone a chance to prosper.


"The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive," the president said. "No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules."