WASHINGTON – On one issue — the war — there was no disagreement.
Republicans and Democrats alike stood shoulder to shoulder in Congress Tuesday in a steadfast show of support for President Bush's State of the Union pledges in the war on terror. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay said "Americans can be proud" of the effort so far, and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt sounded as adamant as the president when he said told terrorists that, "We are going to hunt you down and make you pay."
But there was less agreement about Bush's proposals to fight economic battles at home.
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said the administration now must fit "the ten pounds in their wish list into a five-pound bag," and his colleague, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., decried what he called "irresponsible tax breaks for special interests and the wealthy" in Bush's economic plans.
Bush went into Tuesday's speech with astronomical standing in the polls. The president's command of the war in Afghanistan and the anti-terrorism campaign at home have driven his popularity to sustained levels of 80 percent and higher, the highest of any president since World War II.
"You're not walking alone," said Alice Atoui, a bartender, as she watched from a pub at Boston's Logan International Airport. "It's like you've got people to hold your hand as you step forward."
Bush's vow to keep the pressure on terrorists had Amy Littel nodding in agreement.
She watched the speech in a suburb of Phoenix with her 2-month-old son, Decklan, sleeping by her side. Her husband, Justin, a mortarman in the Marines, was deployed to Afghanistan shortly after Sept. 11 and remained there until earlier this month, when he was transferred to a location his wife can't disclose.
Littel expects her husband, who has never seen his son, to return home in March. In the meantime, Bush's strong words helped her maintain her resolve.
"I'm glad to hear it's not over, that we're going to show once and for all that terrorists can't get away with what they've been getting away with for decades," she said. "We're going to finish the job we started."
Matching the repeated applause of Bush's congressional audience, many Americans watching from home displayed a level of support transcending ordinary politics.
And the president's clout showed in the halls of Congress Tuesday night.
"When our nation was attacked in September, the president promised that we would seek out global terrorism wherever it exists. Now he stands by that oath, and as he leads us in future battles, we as a nation stand by him and our men and women in uniform" said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
When the issues turned domestic, however, the applause was more subdued from the Democratic side of the aisle. With their eye on the midterm congressional races, Democrats have little incentive to help Bush legislatively and, in fact, see vulnerability there.
Many of the domestic items Bush outlined — his stimulus package, his version of a prescription drug plan, his proposal to allow some Social Security money to be invested in the stock market — will be hard to pass in the closely divided Congress.
"Just because you've got high approval ratings because of foreign policy that doesn't necessarily translate into a lot of leeway on domestic policy," said David Wyss, chief economist for Standard and Poor's Co. in New York.
Speaking for the Democrats, Gephardt, D-Mo., also expressed unrelenting support for the war on terror but laid out a Democratic agenda calling for fewer tax cuts and more spending on social safety nets for those impacted by the recession.
In the formal Democratic response to Bush, Gephardt said both parties stand with "one resolve" to ensure victory against terrorists at home and abroad.
"To our enemies, we say with one voice: No act of violence, no threat will drive us apart or steer us from our course — to protect America and preserve our democracy," Gephardt said. "And make no mistake about it: We are going to hunt you down and make you pay."
Gephardt also called for a bipartisan White House summit on economic growth, and said the Enron debacle should spur changes in pension plans and 401(k)s to give people greater protection against corporate mismanagement.
Other Democrats said they were reserving judgment on the Bush platform until they see the hard numbers of a budget proposal.
"The president gave a great speech tonight, but our fiscal reality means we face tough financial choices ahead," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. "The State of the Union is traditionally a chance to promise all things to all people, but the budget is when you find out what you can actually afford to do."
Some Republicans in Congress supported the platform but were also wary of the fights ahead. Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said it is time for "the political obstructionists to call a cease-fire so Congress can send President Bush the legislation he needs for the American people.
"The president has put forth an ambitious agenda that Congress must pledge to make a reality this year," Watts said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report