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April 18, 2014

Live Blog: Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address

11:15 p.m.: Thus concludes the State of the Union live blog. Obama delivered a rather energetic speech, with some added policy flairs, such as a proposed minimum wage increase, to his usual government-centered approach. Democrats are likely to be very happy with what they heard, and Republicans not so much, leaving as still unknown the prospects for bipartisan cooperation on looming fiscal issues such as the budget and the debt ceiling.

Rubio’s rebuttal, meanwhile, will initially be remembered for that reach for a gulp of water in the middle of his speech — at least on social media. But for the difficult task that the rebuttal is, Rubio performed capably and probably helped his career because of it.

Good night from Roll Call in Washington.

10:16 p.m.: Obama concludes. Next up, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with the Republican rebuttal.

10:10 p.m.: The president is closing his State of the Union address with an emotional appeal for Congress to take up Democratic gun control legislation that he is pushing. While some proposals have bipartisan support, many of them do not. “They deserve a vote,” is a phrase the president is repeating over and over. “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he says. “The families of Newtown deserve a vote.” — “The families of Aurora deserve a vote.” — The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg …”

This portion of the #SOTU is likely to stick the most with Democrats, at least. Easily the emotional portion of Obama’s address.

10:08 p.m.: “It has been two months since Newtown,” Obama says.

10 p.m.: Obama calls for the federal government to address threats to U.S. cybersecurity, as part of the latter sections of the State of the Union that declared victory over the “core” elements of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons capability. The Iran comment drew the most bipartisan applause. Less noted by the members but sure to generate much opposition from Republicans: the president’s proposal for the U.S. to unilaterally reduce its nuclear weapons stockpile to set an example.

9:45 p.m.: Immigration makes an appearance, and for the first time it appears that most in the chamber, Democrat and Republican, stand and applaud, with some cheering to boot. Interestingly enough, Obama does not call specifically for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants though he suggests that legalization should involve “going to the back of the line” behind those trying emigrate legally.

9:40 p.m.: Speech is full of the usual Obama flourishes — “reasonable” this, “common sense” that — expressions of incredulity that certain issues engender partisanship. But unusual for any president’s State of the Union, far fewer applause interruptions than normally occur. Meanwhile, Biden exhibits his usual earnestness as he looks on. Boehner actually looks less grumpy than in the past.

9:35 p.m.: Obama is moving along at a decent clip. But very little enthusiastic applause as of yet for his remarks or his proposals. Medicare revisions? Light clapping. Tax overhaul? Light clapping. Avoiding the sequester? The chamber was practically silent. Even his call for job creation didn’t seem to excite the masses in the chamber.

The president finally received his first sustained applause, from Democrats, presumably, when he called for action to address climate change.

9:20 p.m. After opening the speech by noting that U.S. troops are returning home after a “decade of war” — to raucous applause — the president pivots to the economy. “We can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong.” First up, according to the prepared text: a plea to avert the sequester.

9:10 p.m.: Obama is making his way down the center aisle of the House chamber. Lots of hands to shake. Meanwhile, get ready for a domestic-heavy speech. All economy, all the time. Foreign policy doesn’t make an appearance until page 9 of 13 (pages are 8.5 x 11).

9 p.m.: Obama’s speech, according to the embargoed copy, clocks in at north of 6,000 words. The president set to enter the House chamber within minutes …

8:42 p.m.: The dignitaries and political big shots have begun to take their places in the House chamber. Boehner and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are in their spots on the dais. If you’re watching C-SPAN, it looks like social hour.

8:20 p.m.: How to kill time while breathlessly waiting for the State of the Union to get under way: Check Roll Call’s home page for excerpts of the #SOTU issued by the White House. And, in case you’re wondering which cabinet official won’t be attending the speech per standard security protocol, it’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu. He’s the fail-safe.

8 p.m.: President Barack Obama will enter the House chamber about an hour from now, launching the main event surrounding his fifth State of the Union address. The day included the president granting the customary pre-speech interviews to the major television network and cable news anchors, as well as Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio offering similar access during a breakfast gathering.

Members of Congress and their myriad guests are now filing into the chamber in preparation for this evening’s speech (some have been sitting for hours to reserve the best aisle seats.) Judging from the leaked excerpts of Obama’s address and the Republican rebuttal set to be delivered by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, expect the friction that characterizes the relationship between the commander in chief and the GOP to sharpen, if anything.

Will Obama make some news? Will Rubio establish himself as a national leader? Will a member or guest interject themselves into the president’s speech? Will Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is delivering the tea party rebuttal, attack his fellow Republicans more than he goes after Obama? Those and perhaps other questions will begin to be answered shortly. Stick with Roll Call’s #SOTU live blog, and our @rollcall twitter feed, for details.

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