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President Enters for His State of the Union Speech

Aired January 20, 2015 - 21:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's very interesting. There you see some of the Republicans. It's going to be fascinating to see how enthusiastic they are when the president is making a controversial statement. Probably not so much. On the other hand, the Democrats will be very, very enthusiastic. A lot of people will spend some time counting how many times the president will be interrupted with applause. You see Bob Menendez over there. He's not very happy, he's the Democratic senator from New Jersey with the president's Cuba policy.

So this is a moment we're all waiting for.


BLITZER: And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in Washington. We're standing by to hear the President of the United States. He's up on Capitol Hill right now. He's getting ready to address the nation, indeed the world, the State of the Union address. The president will say the state of the union right now is strong.

Jake Tapper, we're watching members of Congress, members of the Senate. They're getting ready to hear the President of the United States. This is the first time the president will be addressing the House and the Senate with Republicans in the majority in both chambers.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The first time this entire presidency. He has a lot of good news to share. Unemployment was at 10 percent during the first year of his presidency. Now it's down to 5.6 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average -- 10,000 points higher than -- at this point early in his first term. And yet, at the same time that he has this good economic news to talk about, there is also a chamber full of Republicans, the American people having sent him not only a Republican House but a Republican Senate to deal with.

BLITZER: The president will be walking out here. We'll hear those famous words when the president is introduced by the Sergeant at Arms here in the House of Representatives. And that will be an exciting moment. It will take him a while, as you know, Jake, to walk down there. And you know what? We're going to try to see if we can eavesdrop a little bit and hear what he's saying to various members on both sides, literally both sides of the aisle there. And there you see Elliot Engel, by the way. We heard Athena -- a report earlier, Athena Jones, she's up in the gallery, he was there since 8:30 this morning so he could get the prime location.

TAPPER: People like to be in the aisle. They like to be able to say hi to the members of the cabinet, to the President of the United States, get a little TV time. We know that President Obama in his remarks this evening, according to the prepared remarks, that the embargo has been broken, he'll say that America, for all that we've endured, for all the great hard work required to come back, for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this -- the shadow of crisis has passed and the state of the union is strong.

BLITZER: So it's almost like the president will be taking a sort of victory lap right now. He'll remind people where the economy was six years ago and where it is right now.

TAPPER: It is a time that the president has been blamed for a bad economy. He's also I suppose entitled to take some credit for a good economy. There is Veterans Administration Secondary, Robert McDonald. He was not the VA Secretary at this point last year. It is now General Shinseki. Kind of a reminder of some of the problems President Obama has had over the last year.

BLITZER: We're waiting for the President of the United States to be introduced. Gloria Borger, he's got a mission tonight not only to try to reach out a little bit to Republicans but also to make sure he doesn't have any problems with his fellow Democrats.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANLYST: Yes, he does. And, you know, he's got some issues. For example, you pointed out before, Wolf, with Senator Menendez on Cuba. And I think, you know, in reading through this speech as we get it, it seems to me that the president has had a great couple of months. There is a wave of optimism that is sweeping over this country. But people now expect things to get better for them. And if the president is telling the public things are better for you, and they're going to get even better, you have to deliver by the next election. And so that kind of raises the stakes a bit. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, John King, the stakes for the president tonight are significant. He's got two years left in his presidency. He wants to use every moment he possibly can to make sure that he leaves the White House with a positive legacy.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I have the calendar, right, Wolf, I believe it's exactly two years from today where you have the transfer of power, when the new president will take office. And make no mistake about it, 2016 hangs over every word of the president's speech tonight.

Look, it's an interesting challenge. As we watch these pictures on the floor, many Democrats are going to look the president and say how much mojo does he have left? Are these new, better poll numbers for real or at what point do we say this is Hillary Clinton's party -- not everyone in the room would disagree with that -- but most Democrats will say at what point is this Hillary Clinton's party, not Barack Obama's party? And then as you watch the Republicans, they have a big decision to

make. Do they want to keep doing what's worked for them? They have a bigger house majority, they have a Senate majority now. They won 31 governorships. They increased their numbers at the state legislative level. Do they want to keep doing what has worked the last two, three, four, five years at the legislative level and out in much of the America? Or do they start thinking what about what about a White House run in 2016? What about African-American voters? What about Latino voters? What about Asian voters?

And part of that calculation is this, Wolf. It's interesting to watch this middle class debate, is if you look at history, not so much polls at the moment. As the president speaks tonight, I'd love to see what Hillary Clinton thinks about this speech and thinks about these proposes, and how Republicans process them. Because if you look at polling, what is her one strength over the man who beat her, President Obama? She did better in those primaries among white working class voters. And so that I think is going to become a factor in what we talked about earlier -- can the president keep his standing high enough to get a decent deal to get to a point where the Republicans have to give him something to create an acceptable deal on all this middle class economic agenda?

BLITZER: We just saw the president's official photographer walk down. They've cleared the aisle, Jake, for the President of the United States. He's about to get introduced and he'll get a rousing reception.

TAPPER: We should note that this is the first time the president is -- according to a senior White House adviser, a senior White House official -- this is the first time President Obama will state --

BLITZER: Hold on, Jake. Here we go.

TAPPER: -- that the state of the union is strong.

BLITZER: Hold on.

ANNOUNCER: Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States.


BLITZER: All right, so there's the president with Stephen Breyer, one of the supreme court justices. He's obviously very, very warmly received. You know, it's interesting, Jake, he's followed by Kevin McCarthy, the new majority leader in the House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, followed by Mitch McConnell. And it's also interesting that the Senate minority leader, he's not there, Harry Reid, because he suffered a bad facial injury.

TAPPER: No, he's in a bad health. But getting back to the point I wanted to make, is that this will be the first time that President Obama has unequivocally stated that the state of the union is strong. 2012, for example, he said the state of the union is getting stronger. In 2013, said it was stronger. And 2014, he hedged it by saying it is you citizens who make the state of the union strong. But today, his message will be unequivocal. The state of the union is strong.

BLITZER: Let's hear what he says to the speaker.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much, please. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, my fellow Americans.