President Obama closed his State of the Union address with a subtle plea for bipartisan accord -- and he got that within minutes as supporters and critics agreed that he delivered a speech that included neither surprises nor grand plans.
“There wasn’t a lot in the speech,” said Charles Krauthammer, a conservative pundit and Fox News contributor.
“I’ll work with the president … and anyone who wants to get people back to work,” Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul said after the speech.
But speaking on Fox News, he also complained Obama was taking a “my way or the highway” approach by saying he’d bypass Congress to push his agenda, sounding more like a “bully” than someone looking to work with lawmakers.
The president’s roughly 60-minute speech was essentially what the White House had promised Americans for the past several days -- a call to improve education, expand domestic and clean energy and end U.S. involvement in overseas war.
"None of it is easy," Obama said in closing. "But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us ... I know it's within our reach."
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told MSNBC, "I thought it was a good speech, bringing us together."
As for Obama saying he would veto any congressional bill to impose more economic sanctions on Iran, amid talks to slow that country's nuclear program, Manchin said he agreed to such a plan "only as a hammer. But we've got to give peace a chance."
Perhaps the best example of the president staying off the attack -- to the disappointment of other Democrats – was his message to Republicans and other critics about his signature health-care law.
“I don’t expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of the law,” he said. “But let’s not have another 40-something votes to repeal the law. … We got it.”
“It was a … positive speech,” said California Democratic Rep. John Garamendi.
On Obama's call for Congress to pass immigration reform, Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said, "I am glad to see the president give a strong push for the House to finish what we began.”