#SOTU: Obama delivers his final State of the Union Address

Obama wrapped up his final #SOTU with a forceful statement of confidence in the future of the US.

President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, 12 January, 2016. Picture: AFP.

WASHINGTON - President Obama wrapped up his final State of the Union Address with a forceful statement of confidence in the future of the United States.

"I believe in change because I believe in you," Obama said in his closing remarks, generating a standing ovation. "That's why I stand here as confident as I have ever been that the State of our Union is strong."

Obama received about a dozen standing ovations during his address, but just a handful were fully bipartisan.

In addition to the standing ovation that greeted the entry of First Lady Michelle Obama, the other bipartisan applause moments came after his comments on cutting red tape and outdated regulations, when he announced Vice President Joe Biden would lead a cancer "moonshot" initiative and when he lauded the US military as the finest fighting force in the world.

As we look ahead to 2016, I'm hopeful we can work to protect our communities from gun violence & make progress toward natl #paidleave. #SOTU

We are at our strongest when we view our nation's challenges and opportunities not as R vs. Ds, but as the future vs. the past #SOTU

I will end my comments on the 2016 #SOTU with an image of one of my favorite moments of this evening. pic.twitter.com/rJRFuVMzV4

Several more moments won big applause from the Democratic side of the chamber.

Those included Obama's remarks on:

* Making college affordable

* Food stamps not causing the financial crisis

* Biden securing new resources for National Institutes of Health

* His administration's clean energy achievements

* The Islamic State not being representative of one of the world's largest religions

* His request for new authorization to use military force

* Terrorists finding that Americans have long memories and the U.S. reach has no limits

* His assertion that "we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS


Obama accused critics of playing into the hands of Islamic State by comparing the fight against the militant group to World War 3.

Obama said it was fiction to declare the United States was in economic decline or getting weaker on the international stage, despite rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates vying to replace him in the 8 November election.

"Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence," Obama said, according to prepared remarks.

"That's the story ISIL wants to tell; that's the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don't need to build them up to show that we're serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world's largest religions," he said, referring to Islamic State by an acronym.

The remarks were a repudiation of Republican criticism of his strategy against Islamic State and, not so subtly, of Republican front-runner Donald Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Obama's address comes as 10 sailors aboard two US Navy boats were taken into Iranian custody.

Iran told the United States the crew members would be "promptly" returned, US officials said. The event gave Republicans further fodder to criticise Obama's nuclear deal with Tehran.

Obama did not address the issue at the top of his speech.

The address is one of Obama's few remaining chances to capture the attention of millions of Americans before November's election of a new president who will take office next January.


South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who is delivering the Republican Party's response to Obama's address, will knock his record on fiscal and foreign policy while delivering a not-so-subtle jab at Republican presidential candidates such as Trump.

"During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country," she will say, according to excerpts of her remarks.

Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants.

He emphasised areas where compromise was possible with Republicans in Congress including criminal justice reform, trade and poverty reduction.

He called for lawmakers to ratify a Pacific trade pact, advance tighter gun laws and lift an embargo on Cuba.

Nikki Haley isn't the most popular Indian from South Carolina; that title goes to @azizansari.

Honestly though, good for Nikki Haley for for discouraging Trump's agenda despite VP prospects

I couldn't handle hearing Nikki Haley speech I just had to turn the channel

The GOP sent Nikki Haley to shiv Trump. It looks to be backfiring in record time.