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Florida reaction to Obama's final State of the Union


Here's what Florida politicians had to say about President Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican running for president:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican running for president:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat:

It’s frustrating when partisanship prevents the Congress from getting things done. And it’s pretty clear that Americans are fed up with our inability to enact common-sense reforms. While we were able to get a few things passed back in December, there’s still a lot that we need to accomplish. And I will continue to do everything that I can to try to bring people together in a bipartisan way to get things done.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami:

President Obama's final State of the Union Address will be remembered not for what he said, but for what he didn’t say.

The President has failed yet again to use this opportunity to lay out a comprehensive plan to Congress and the American people on how best to defeat ISIS, and instead has opted to try to lull us into a false sense of security that is belied by the facts on the ground here in the U.S. and across the globe.

It's much the same situation with Iran: the President touted his nuclear deal with Tehran, yet what the President didn't say is that, since the deal, we have seen an increasingly bellicose regime flouting the international community, daring us to take action against its illicit behavior and then threatening to walk away from the nuclear deal if we do respond.


Just like there is no provocation Iran can take that would preclude the President from moving forward with his nuclear agreement with Iran, there is no abusive act committed by the Castro regime that is not rewarded by the White House with even more concessions. The President touts his normalization effort but what we don't hear from the President is that the Castro brothers continue to detain, arrest, and beat the Ladies in White and other pro-democracy leaders in addition to denying the Cuban people their basic human rights. It is also inexcusable for the President to advocate to lift the embargo but not mention the conditions within the embargo that are necessary for it to be lifted nor did he advocate for sanctions or criminal penalties for any individual who was behind Cuba acquiring a U.S. Hellfire missile or not demand for the Castro regime to return this equipment immediately. 

Just a few short days ago, the world was reminded of precisely what the consequences of a weak and dangerous nuclear deal with a rogue regime could be as North Korea claimed to have conducted its fourth nuclear detonation, foreshadowing what we can expect from Iran in the coming years as a result of this administration's failure to secure a strong and ironclad assurance that Iran can never produce a nuclear weapon.

In Venezuela, the President failed to acknowledge the countless human rights violations in Venezuela and has been silent on the recent news that Maduro is using his power to nullify elections results for fear of the opposition taking control of the National Assembly – ignoring the intent of the U.S. Congress to harshly sanction Venezuelan officials who have abused the judicial system for political means.

The President is clearly more interested in preserving his legacy, than holding rogue regimes accountable or standing up for those people that are being oppressed.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who is running for U.S. Senate:

I was both inspired and motivated by the President's address, showing how far we have come as a nation in recent years as well as reminding us of all the important work still ahead. I was pleased to see President Obama's continued focus on strengthening the middle class to make sure the American dream remains in reach for all hardworking families. That's why Congress should act immediately on common-sense policies like raising the minimum wage, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and making healthcare more affordable. Furthermore, as a native Floridian, I understand the urgent need to act on climate change and protect our environment for future generations. I applaud the Administration's commitment to tackling this global crisis and to Everglades restoration and other local environmental projects in our backyard.

As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, it was important for the American people to hear more about the President's strategy for defeating terrorism at home and abroad. We need our friends and allies to better coordinate efforts to defeat violent extremism wherever it occurs. Here at home, following the President's executive actions to reduce gun violence, Congress must now do its part by acting to strengthen background checks and improve mental health services. These are common-sense policies that a majority of Americans – including gun owners – support. And we need to put partisanship aside to immediately close the loophole that allows a suspected terrorist to walk into a gun shop and purchase a firearm.

Tonight I was honored to be joined by renowned civil rights attorney Daryl Parks, and I share his commitment to fixing our broken criminal justice system. It was great to hear the President discuss much-needed criminal justice reform and continue to expand civil rights efforts to ensure equality can be realized by all Americans.

Unfortunately in recent years, compromise has been the exception when it should be the rule. Regardless of the issue, the American people desperately need our government to put partisanship aside and work together to address the many challenges facing our nation.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee:

President Obama delivered a strong, inspirational address to the nation this evening.

I was thrilled to hear the President reiterate his longstanding calls for comprehensive immigration reform, paid family leave, a higher national minimum wage, and protected and strengthened Medicare and Social Security programs.

As a cancer survivor, I was personally moved to hear the President talk about a new mission to combat this pernicious disease, led by Vice President Joe Biden who, after tragically losing his son Beau last year to cancer, admirably called for a moonshot effort to ensure fewer families experience the heartbreak the Biden family has endured.

Importantly, President Obama also spoke about the America he envisions and aspires toward beyond his Presidency, such as fewer deaths from gun violence, more opportunity for more people to get and stay ahead in a strengthened economy, more affordable educational opportunities and solutions to combat climate change. The President eloquently highlighted the unique attributes of our people and our nation – hard work, optimism, innovation and diversity – and illustrated how they will serve us and future generations well into the future.

And the future of our country is bright because of President Obama’s leadership.

Listening to the President tonight, I reflected again on his unwavering resolve to bring our nation back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Seventy straight months of private sector job growth that has led to more than 13 million jobs created. Saving the auto industry. Quality, affordable health care for 17 million more Americans. Enacting important Wall Street and consumer protection reforms. Deficits cut by nearly three-fourths. These are just some of the accomplishments the American people have come to count on from their President, despite Congressional Republicans’ best efforts to prevent him from achieving nearly all of his agenda these past seven years.

Lastly, it was incredibly important when the President called out politicians who insult Muslims.

At one point, the President also said, ‘democracy […] require[s] basic bonds of trust between its citizens.’ Of course, demonizing and lying about Muslims and Muslim-Americans is one flagrant attempt to rip those bonds of trust apart, but the President and Congressional Democrats won’t stand for it. And neither do the vast majority of the American people.

Nearly two dozen of my and Congressman Keith Ellison’s Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate took up our invitation to invite a Muslim constituent to tonight’s address. Hateful rhetoric and ideas driven by fear have no place in our nation and in fact diminish our standing abroad, a message I believe President Obama conveyed forcefully this evening.

The American people should be proud of President Obama’s accomplishments on their behalf, and know that because of his leadership, our best days indeed lie ahead.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami:

After hearing President Obama’s final State of the Union Address, it is abundantly clear that our leaders must search for common ground now more than ever. To elicit positive change in our communities, both parties must work together to craft solutions. We have already seen willingness to come together and pass laws that will address such issues as revitalizing our nation’s transportation & infrastructure networks and reforming our education policy to strengthen America's schools. I’ve made both of these issues high priorities during my first year in Congress, and we’ve made real changes to benefit South Florida. The need to mitigate the effects of climate change, a matter of vast concern to the families of our state and coastal communities across the country, is another urgent problem that I will continue to find common ground with the President and Congress. I appreciate the President's emphasis on this issue.

On foreign policy, regrettably the President fell way short and described a world far different than the one most Americans are observing. Under this Administration radical terrorist groups like ISIL have grown and become highly disruptive to the world order. The conflict in Syria continues to rage with over 300,000 people dead and millions displaced. There was no mention of Iran's ballistic missile tests and of the emerging situation where Iran has apparently detained American military assets and personnel. What about North Korea's possible testing of a hydrogen bomb? Here in our hemisphere the President continues to advocate for a reckless policy of unilateral concessions for the Cuban dictatorship, asking for nothing in return for the American people - not even the "hellfire missile" that mysteriously ended up in the hands of Cuba's dictators. No mention of the continuing instability in Venezuela and of the Maduro regime's abusive conduct. These are serious threats and challenges for our safety and security, and the President was not serious in the way he addressed them.

I’d like to thank Mrs. Tara M. Parks for being my guest for last night’s address and for reminding Americans of the need to reduce violent crime across the country. I support assigning additional FBI agents to process background checks and requiring those in the business of selling guns to obtain a license. In Congress, we must advance legislation focused on keeping firearms out of the hands of those who might suffer from mental health disorders. I am pleased President Obama also discussed the urgent need to address criminal justice reform. Our country has a tangled system of laws, intended not to rehabilitate offenders but to keep them trapped in a web of poverty. Criminal justice reform, coupled with an economic environment where those seeking work can get it, will put us on track to strengthen families and keep neighborhoods safe. 

Lastly, I agree with the President's call for a healthier politics in our country. The American people have had enough of the nasty partisanship and vitriol that has characterized our politics over the last decade. We must seek common ground while honoring our principles. Here in Congress, we must show respect to those we represent by respecting one another.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton:

Tonight, President Obama argued that a bright future awaits our nation should we as a people come together to work for it. Our nation has made great strides in recent years, with a deficit reduced by a trillion dollars, an unemployment rate cut in half, and a health care system that covers 18 million more Americans. Yet as the sponsor of the Democracy for All Amendment, I wholeheartedly agree with President Obama that so long as we have elections that value dollars over voters, our ability to build a future of equal opportunity and economic security will remain compromised.

From solving our student debt crisis to strengthening Social Security, I truly believe that the answers to our greatest challenges lie in elevating, not drowning out, the voices of the American people.

Finally, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I was pleased to hear the President make a tough case not only for hitting the terrorists in ISIS hard but working even harder to bring an end to the deadly conflict in Syria. At a time when so many of the challenges confronting our nation are global in scale, from the spread of violent extremism to the threat of climate change, principled and steady leadership from the United States of America has never been more welcomed or more needed worldwide.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach:

Countering the noise of negative political rhetoric, the President delivered an optimistic message affirming the greatness of our country. He offered a vision of a future that advances people instead of holding them back, keeps our nation secure, and leaves our planet healthy for generations to come.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a Republican running for U.S. Senate:

We heard the State of the State from the Governor today here in Florida, and this evening we heard the State of the Union from the President. There is a stark difference.

In Florida, we have created an environment where Florida families can get a job. We have cut taxes over 50 times and have had billion dollar surpluses for three straight years. We’ve done that through fewer taxes, less regulation and less government power. We didn’t hear that tonight from Washington and we have not seen that coming out of Washington.  

What we heard from President Obama was empty rhetoric aimed at preserving his legacy rather than introducing new ideas for moving our country forward, putting Americans back to work and defeating our enemies. President Obama told a tale of “success” but he ignored his doubling of our national debt to almost 20 trillion dollars, millions of good paying jobs replaced by lower paying ones and a much more dangerous environment where Americans feel less safe and secure.

In Washington, they have it backwards, accepting higher taxes, accepting more government, and accepting less freedom. It’s time for change in Washington.  It’s time to start seeing the results in Washington like we have seen in Florida. In Florida, we deliver results, and take nothing less than that as success.

State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida:

While President Obama may be content with the status quo, the American people will not settle for the Democrat’s failed agenda in 2016 and beyond. Obama’s suggestion of more government intervention is the reason why the American people overwhelmingly distrust big government and say the country is on the wrong track. It is clear that our nation wants to see the next president take a new direction. Our State Party is entirely committed to defeating Hillary Clinton and electing a strong Republican president who will create the real economic opportunity that the American people deserve.