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President Obama’s State of the Union address, in 10 memorable quotes

President Obama's fifth State of the Union is now history. Did you miss it? Check out a full recap of speech here and a transcript here.

The key moments from President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address, in three minutes. (Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)

We watched the speech and plucked out the 10 most memorable lines. These are the quotes that caught our attention, are likely to be dissected most in the coming days by opponents and supporters and best summed up the overarching themes Obama sought to drive home.

1. Obama framed his central argument early.

"Let's make this a year of action. That's what most Americans want, for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations."

2. And made clear that he will not wait for Congress to act.

"Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."

3. He jabbed at political gridlock and (indirectly) at Republicans' role in the government shutdown and debt ceiling showdown.

"When that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy -- when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States -- then we are not doing right by the American people."

4. And took Republicans to task for trying to repeal Obamacare.

"Let's not have another 40-something votes to repeal a law that's already helping millions of Americans."

5. But he also praised Republicans -- like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

"There are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments and are moving this country forward. They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. That's what drew our forebears here. It's how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America's largest automaker, how the son of a barkeep is speaker of the House."

6. And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

"There are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit. Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. Think about that. It helps about half of all parents in America at some point in their lives. But I agree with Republicans like Senator Rubio that it doesn't do enough for single workers who don't have kids. So let's work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, help more Americans get ahead."

7. Obama name-checked "Mad Men."

"A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a 'Mad Men' episode."

8. Vice President Biden got some love.

"Tonight, I've asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now."

9. The emotional high point came when Obama mentioned Army 1st Sgt. Cory Remsburg, who was nearly killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.

"Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he's learned to speak again and stand again and walk again, and he's working toward the day when he can serve his country again."

10. Obama closed his speech by mentioning Remsburg.

"The America we want for our kids -- a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us -- none of it is easy. But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us, the way Cory summoned what is best in him, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow, I know it's within our reach."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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Sean Sullivan · January 29, 2014

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