Obama’s final State of the Union looks back, seeks to set 2016 tone

Delivering the final State of the Union address of his presidency on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama called for Americans to maintain an optimistic outlook for the future rather than let the cynicism of an election year put progress at risk.

In a speech designed to shape his legacy and influence the 2016 presidential race, Obama dismissed ideas about the decline of the United States and touted the country’s economic resurgence during his years in office.

Local lawmakers were mixed in their responses to the president’s speech. Democrats largely applauded Obama for his work in the White House and highlighted the economic recovery the country has seen during his presidency; Republicans called his defense policies into question and said his outlook for the future was overly rosy.

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, called the president’s message “unbelievable,” given what she said has been a lack of bipartisan cooperation from the White House.

“I am an optimistic person but I think it is going to have to take an election in 2016 before we can turn things around,” she said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said an optimistic tone was appropriate for Obama’s final year in office.

“We are smart, we are strong, and I believe the American people respond to those leaders who want to talk about tomorrow in the context of, ‘we can always be better, we can always do better,'” she said.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bloomberg

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