Obama pleads for political truce

US president Barack Obama blows a kiss to Michelle Obama before delivering the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, DC, last night. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

US president Barack Obama blows a kiss to Michelle Obama before delivering the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, DC, last night. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 00:00

US president Barack Obama challenged a politically polarised Congress to support him in narrowing the gulf between rich and poor, breathing life into a struggling US economy and changing gun laws as he set out ambitious goals for his second term.

In his first State of the Union address since his re-election, Mr Obama pleaded with politicians and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to set aside their differences in an effort to introduce change and to avoid “the brinkmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors”.

“The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next,” he said in the annual State of the Union speech that lasted a little over an hour.

He filled in many of the policy gaps left by his rhetorical inaugural address last month, painting himself as the champion of the middle class and aiming to be a major legislative reformer in his second-term, despite not being in control of Congress.

“A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts,” said the Democratic president in his fourth State of the Union address.

He described it as “our generation’s task” to “reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class".

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