Sitting with the First Lady’s during the State of the Union address is sure to earn one some attention. But several guests sitting near Michelle Obama on Tuesday night got an extra taste of the spotlight when President Obama called them out in his speech, prompting applause throughout the chamber.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stood and clapped when Obama mentioned the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old Chicago girl who performed during Obama’s inauguration and was shot and killed a week later.
“Hadiya’s parents, Nat and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence,” Obama said, referring to the couple, who had sat stoically through the speech. “They deserve a vote.”
The lawmakers turned toward where they sat, paying respect, and Democrats began chant of “vote, vote!”
Obama also singled out former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was sitting among the First Lady’s guests. “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he thundered. The chant spread.
Later, one of the first lady’s guest inspired another bipartisan standing ovation when he told the story of Desiline Victor, the 102 year-old Miami woman who stood in line for hours waiting to vote in the presidential election last year. Victor waved as the chamber turned and cheered. “We should follow the example,” Obama said.