Entries in State of the Union Address (5)


Gun Violence Victims Sound Off as State of the Union Guests

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- “Do something. You can.”
That was the plea of Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton to Congress Tuesday afternoon, hours before she was set to appear in the guest box of first lady Michelle Obama during the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The Pendletons lost their daughter in January when she was shot by what police believe to have been Chicago gang members. Only days earlier the 15-year-old drum majorette had returned from Washington, D.C. where she had participated in the president’s second inaugural festivities.
“No one should feel the way we do and I'm appealing to Congress to be smarter than me. You guys signed up for the job,” the mother said.
Hadiya Pendleton’s death became the latest symbol in a renewed national debate on gun control.
The Pendletons are among at least 42 victims of gun violence who will be present for President Obama’s address Tuesday night, including family members of victims of the Dec. 14 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 first graders and six adults were slain. The guests were invited on behalf of the White House and dozens of lawmakers.

Cowley-Pendleton and other guests spoke Tuesday in the Capitol about what they want from the legislature and the Oval Office. The guests gathered in the Gabe Zimmerman Meeting Room, named for the aide of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was fatally shot in 2011 when a gunman opened fire on the congresswoman and the crowd around her at an event in Tucson, Ariz. Zimmerman’s mother and fiancé were among the participants at Tuesday's event.
Also in attendance was Elvin Daniel of McHenry, Illinois. Daniel, a hunter and long-standing member of the National Rifle Association, lost his sister, Zina Haughton, when she was killed by her husband in a shooting rampage. Local media reported that days earlier the woman had obtained a restraining order against her husband that would have barred his ownership of a firearm.
Choking back tears Tuesday, Daniel implored the government to pass universal background check measures for all gun purchases.

Many members of Congress who had invited the guests were present for the remarks, wearing green and white ribbons in memory of the victims. Each lawmaker had been personally affected by gun violence in the past.

Representatives of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, Million Mom March and Mayors Against Illegal Guns were also present for the event.

Not all victims of gun violence present on Capitol Hill had come to petition for strengthened gun control measures. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning, one victim told lawmakers that had she not complied with state gun laws by leaving her firearm in her car, she may have helped to avert a 1991 massacre at Killeen, Texas that left 23 dead and scores more wounded.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Who Will Sit With the First Lady at State of the Union?

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- It’s the most exclusive guest list in a town full of power players. Sitting with the first lady as the president delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday night will be an elementary school teacher, a college student and a secretary, among other VIPs.

The coveted invitations go to people who reinforce the message of the president’s annual address, putting a human face on policies ranging from the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” to the killing of Osama bin Laden, to health care reform and rebuilding American manufacturing. Of the 21 guests invited to see the president’s election-year address, 12 hail from battleground states.

Joining the first lady will be Sara Ferguson, a Pennsylvania elementary school teacher who vowed to continue working without pay in the face of budget cuts, and Adam Rapp, a cancer survivor from Illinois who the White House says benefited from the president’s health care overhaul.

Two Coloradans will be also sitting with Mrs. Obama. Lorelei Kilker is a chemist who benefited from an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation into alleged sexual discrimination. University of Colorado Denver student Mahala Greer, who will graduate in May with $35,000 in student loan debt, represents the administration’s push to make college more affordable.

Entrepreneur Hiroyuki “Hiro” Fujita, whose Cleveland-based company exports high-tech products around the world, will sit with Mrs. Obama to highlight the importance of manufacturing and bringing jobs back to America.

Michigan lab technician Bryan Ritterby will also join the first lady. After being laid off from his manufacturing job in 2009, Ritterby enrolled in community college and was hired by Energetx Composites, testing materials for wind turbines. Ritterby said he was surprised to receive the invitation, telling his hometown paper The Holland Sentinel that he’s “just an average Joe.”

You may not recognize her name, but Debbie Bosanek has been a central figure in the president’s push for economic fairness. Bosanek is the secretary of billionaire Warren Buffet, who has famously argued that he should not pay a higher tax rate than she does. The argument is the basis of the president’s “Buffet Rule” and tonight he is expected to continue to call for wealthy Americans to “pay their fair share.”

Wife of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs will also be in attendance. Jobs is the founder and chair of Emerson Collective, an organization focused on harnessing the potential of individuals from underserved communities to help them build a better life.

Last may be the most recognized invitee, Mark Kelly. From the first lady’s box, the astronaut will watch over the House floor where his wife Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will sit with her colleagues. Giffords announced Sunday she is stepping down from her position to focus on her recovery following last year’s tragic shooting.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Behind the Scenes: Sneak Preview of State of the Union Speech

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House has released a behind-the-scenes video showing President Obama working on his State of the Union speech, which he’ll deliver Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress.

The video includes speechwriters Jon Favreau and Cody Keenan in the Oval Office talking with the president, and shows close-ups of the president’s handwritten edits on the page, and moments with Favreau, Keenan and assorted top White House aides.

Just hours before he was set to deliver his third State of the Union address, President Obama told reporters Tuesday he “may have a few touch ups left” to make on the speech.

Asked if he was pleased with the address, the president responded with a smile. “It’s not bad,” he said.

Obama’s brief comments came during a short photo-op as he walked along the White House colonnade.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Homeless Teenager Invited to State of the Union

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- In the past week, Samantha Garvey‘s love of mussels has given her family a home and saved her a seat at President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Garvey, a homeless high school senior with a 3.9 grade point average, garnered recognition after she became a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search for her work studying the effects of predators on mussels.

Inspired by her story of overcoming the odds, Long Island Rep. Steve Israel offered Garvey a coveted gallery ticket to the Jan. 24 State of the Union address.

Israel is not the first person who was motivated to act after hearing Garvey’s story. Suffolk county official Steve Bellone announced last week that Garvey and her family, who have lived in shelters and hotels for years, could soon move into a rent-subsidized home.

Garvey will find out next month whether she’s a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, the top prize is $100,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Condition Upgraded from Serious to Good

Mark Kelly watches President Obama deliver his State of the Union address, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in the hospital room of his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Photo Courtesy - Office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords(HOUSTON) -- Doctors for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords upgraded her condition from serious to good late Tuesday night and said she is ready to be transferred to a brain rehabilitation hospital as early as Wednesday morning pending a medical review, ABC News has learned.

The fluid accumulation in her brain that concerned doctors over the weekend has already begun to subside.

An tentative news conference has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, where Rep. Giffords' medical team will give an update on her progress, according to a news release from Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, the hospital where Giffords is currently recovering.

Meanwhile, at Tuesday night's State of the Union address, members of both political parties were wearing black and white ribbons in a show of solidarity with Giffords and the people of Tucson.  In a special gesture, her friends in Congress left one seat unfilled.

In Houston, Giffords' husband, NASA Commander Mark Kelly, watched Tuesday night's State of the Union Address from his wife's bedside at the hospital.  While he keeps watch over her care, the clock is ticking on a critical decision.  Kelly has said he will decide within two weeks whether he will command the space shuttle Endeavor's final mission in April.

Over the weekend, doctors inserted a small drain in Giffords' skull to remove the brain fluid that had delayed her transfer out of ICU.  Experts say it is not uncommon for someone suffering a traumatic brain injury to have such fluid accumulation, caused when the brain bleeds or swells.

Giffords' doctors have expressed confidence that she has passed the most critical period for complications and say that the fluid is not keeping Giffords from receiving three hours of physical therapy a day.

Giffords was brought by a specially equipped private plane from Tucson to Houston's Hobby Airport last Friday, and immediately was transported to the Texas Medical Center's intensive care unit by medical helicopter.  She will eventually be treated at nearby TIRR Memorial Hermann. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio