Obama dismisses idea of IS as existential threat

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The latest on President Barack Obama's last State of the Union address. All times EST:

9:55 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the U.S. doesn't need over-the-top claims about the Islamic State group to show the U.S. is serious about defeating it.

Obama is dismissing the idea that IS threatens America's existence in his State of the Union address. Obama says that's the story IS wants to tell and the message it uses in propaganda to recruit. He says references to World War III just play into the extremist group's hands.

Obama is also criticizing those who say IS represents Islam. He says that's a lie and says rhetoric like that pushes away allies the U.S. needs to win the fight. He's alluding to Republican politicians who have demanded Obama declare war on "radical Islamic extremists."

The president says IS is made up of killers, fanatics and twisted souls. He's repeating his declaration that the U.S. will hunt them down and destroy them.


9:50 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is criticizing President Barack Obama's State of the Union address — while it is being delivered.

Ryan says in a statement released by his office that after 30 minutes, Obama's speech "isn't going so well." Ryan says "lofty platitudes and nostalgic rhetoric may make for nice soundbites, but they don't explain how to" solve problems, such as defeating the Islamic State terrorist group, fixing social safety net programs or getting the economy back on track.

Ryan says Obama's speech "isn't a real path forward to restore a confident America," adding, "We can do so much better."

Ryan says the Republican-led Congress has boosted funding for the military, overhauled the No Child Left Behind education law and lifted a 40-year ban on crude oil exports.


9:45 p.m.

President Barack Obama is making good on his promise not to announce a litany of new proposals in his last State of the Union address.

Obama and White House officials said ahead of the speech that he was planning a "nontraditional" speech that would offer a broad, long-term view of the nation. They said he would skip the traditional list of ambitious plans for the coming year and calls for new legislation. Those calls would likely hit a dead end in Congress as Obama's presidency begins to wind down.

Obama is using his speech to repeat his previous calls for legislation on immigration, minimum wage, pay equity and guns, as well as a new war powers resolution.

His only new announcement is that he's tasking Vice President Joe Biden with a mission to accelerate research on cancer. But Biden had already announced last year that he planned to pursue a "moonshot" to cure cancer.


9:35 p.m.

President Barack Obama is making an overture to new House Speaker Paul Ryan by highlighting the Republican's interest in fighting poverty.

Obama, in his State of the Union address, says he'd welcome "a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers without kids."

The president notes, however, that there are plenty of other areas where it's more difficult to find agreement between Republicans and Democrats.

He says those include what role the government should play in making sure the system works for ordinary Americans, not just the rich.


9:25 p.m.

President Barack Obama is opening his State of the Union address with a few jokes about the race to pick his successor.

Obama got cheers when he promised to keep his address short — because some of the legislators are antsy to get back to Iowa.

That's where the first caucuses of the presidential campaign take place in just a few weeks.

Obama ad-libbed that he's been to Iowa, and he's happy to share some advice.

Obama tells the legislators, "I'll be shaking hands afterward if you want some tips."

His audience included Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Marco Rubio of Florida, both presidential hopefuls.


9:22 p.m.

President Barack Obama says those who try to dispute the science of climate change will end up "pretty lonely."

Obama is touting his efforts to fight global warming in his final State of the Union address. He says those doubting global warming are welcome to "have at it." He says they'll be on the opposite side of the military, most businesses, a majority of Americans and almost all scientists.

The president is adding that 200 nations around the world agree climate change is a problem that must be solved. He's alluding to the global climate pact the U.S. and other nations reached in Paris in December.

The president says investing in climate solutions is also a chance for U.S. businesses to produce "the energy of the future." He's pointing to wind and solar technology.


9:20 p.m.

President Barack Obama says if Congress is serious about winning the war against the Islamic State group, it should pass a new war powers resolution for the fight.

Obama says in his final State of the Union address that with or without Congress, IS will learn that when you come after Americans, the U.S. comes after you. He says it may take time but the U.S. has long memories and unlimited reach.

He says both al-Qaida and IS represent a "direct threat" to Americans. But Obama says the U.S. can't try to take over or rebuild every country in crisis. He says that's a recipe for quagmire and American deaths.


9:15 p.m.

President Barack Obama points to the capture of a Libyan militant accused in the 2012 attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi as evidence of U.S. resolve against terrorists.

The president holds out the imprisonment of Ahmed Abu Khattala as a sign of the U.S. commitment to see that justice is done.

It's the first time the president has made reference to the Benghazi attacks in a State of the Union address.

The attacks have become a flashpoint in the U.S. presidential campaign and remain under investigation by a special House committee.

Obama, in his speech text, says terrorists should know that "when you come after Americans, we go after you."


9:13 p.m.

There are two White House hopefuls attending President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

Florida's Rubio was backslapping with GOP colleagues like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, chatting with Arizona Sen. John McCain and hugging Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont shook hands as he entered the House chamber and then joined Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed to hear the speech.

Two other GOP candidates — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — skipped the speech.


9:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama is taking a few jabs at the Republican presidential field in his final State of the Union address.

Obama says the world is looking to the U.S. to address threats in the Middle East and elsewhere. He says the U.S. response must be more than calls "to carpet bomb civilians." Obama says that works as a sound bite on television, but doesn't pass the test on the world stage.

The remarks are aimed at Republican candidates, including Ted Cruz, who has said he'd carpet bomb the Islamic State group. Donald Trump has used similarly bombastic language to describe how he'd attack IS.

Obama is also criticizing those who say the U.S. is getting weaker or that its economy is declining. He says that's just "political hot air."


9:05 p.m.

Vice President Joe Biden says he'll spend his final year in the White House working to double the rate of progress toward a cancer cure.

President Barack Obama is tasking Biden with the mission in his State of the Union address. Biden says the goal is to make a decade's worth of advances in five years.

Biden says in a blog post that he'll work to do two things: increase public and private resources to fight cancer, and break down barriers to collaboration and information-sharing by researchers. He says the federal government will use funding incentives and increased coordination to accelerate research. He wants more sharing of medical and research data.

Biden says it's personal. His 46-year-old son died last year from brain cancer. Biden announced months later that he wouldn't run for president but would launch a "moonshot" to cure cancer. This is the first time he's laying out how he'll pursue that goal.

LIVE: Obama delivers final State of the Union address












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