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Obama’s top five State of the Union zingers


In front of the new, Republican-controlled Congress, a forceful and determined President Obama used his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night to push for a program of “middle class economics.” With his pitch, also came a slew of zingers – some scripted and some ad-libbed – that received applause, laughter and some GOP scowls. Here’s a look at his five best lines.

1. “I know because I won both of them.” Towards the end of his speech, Obama called for Republicans and Democrats to work together, acknowledging “I have no more campaigns to run.” But when Republicans began to clap, the commander-in-chief shot back, off-the-cuff:  “I know because I won both of them” he said, to applause and laughter from Democrats.

2. “Let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline.” Obama zinged Republicans for focusing too much on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline – which he has voiced opposition to – and instead urged them to focus on a long-term infrastructure bill. “Twenty-first century businesses need 21st century infrastructure — modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come,” said the president.

1/20/15, 9:52 PM ET

Obama: No greater threat than climate change

President Obama describes the threat posed by climate change, emphasizing the consensus of scientists and the need for changes in energy policy.
President Obama describes the threat posed by climate change, emphasizing the consensus of scientists and the need for changes in energy policy.
3. “Well, I’m not a scientist either.” President Obama took a jab at climate change critics, arguing, “I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.”

4. “It’s time to try something new.” Obama addressed his controversial decision to thaw relations with Cuba and asked Congress to begin to lift the embargo against the communist country. “In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new,” he said.

5. Congress: You try living off the minimum wage. In his continued push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, Obama challenged members of Congress who are against the proposal. “And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise,” he said.

Scenes from the State of the Union
Obama heralds economic recovery in State of the Union address