The American public will get rhetoric and imagery in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

Tyler Burt
Lacey High School student Tyler Burt who will attend the State Of The Union as the guest of Rep. Jon Runyan (R). (Tyler Burt)

The speech will contain a heavy dose on the economy and play out against a visual backdrop dominated by the nation's current debate over guns.

Obama this evening will make a case for measures and proposals that he says will boost job creation and put the economy on a more upward trajectory. But in the audience will be many Americans invited to the witness the speech because of their experience with gun violence.

First lady Michelle Obama will sit with the parents of a Chicago teenager shot and killed just days after she performed at the president's inauguration. Twenty-two House members have invited people affected by gun violence, according to Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who pushed the effort.

New Jersey Seantor Frank Lautenberg has invited Matt Gross, a New Jersey native who was shot in the head in 1997, at the age of 27 in a shooting on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Republican Jon Runyan of New Jersey's 3rd Congressional district will sit with Lacey High School student Tyler Burt.

Republican Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas says he's invited rocker Ted Nugent, a long-time gun control opponent who last year said he would end up "dead or in jail" if Obama won re-election.

That confluence of message and symbolism illustrates where Obama is in his presidency following his re-election.

His economic blueprint represents unfinished business. The gun debate, spurred by the December tragedy in Newtown, Conn., is part of his new agenda.

GOP to label Obama agenda 'big government'

Marco Rubio
Florida Senator Marco Rubio (Riccardo S. Savi/WireImage/Getty Images)

Republicans plan to cast President Barack Obama's second-term agenda as more "big government" and offer a series of proposals to boost economic growth and reduce the federal debt.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will deliver the Republican response to Obama's State of the Union address tonight. He says Republicans will pursue policies that would create jobs for middle-class families, tame the federal debt and hold down future spending.

He says Republicans "don't just want to be the opposition. We want to be the alternative."

Rubio will deliver his address in both English and Spanish. It comes as Republicans say the party needs to do more to attract Latino voters. Obama won 71 percent of Hispanic voters last year against Republican Mitt Romney.


A partial list compiled by

First Lady Michelle Obama:

  • Lt. Brian Murphy, who was wounded while responding to the Sikh Temple shooting last August in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He was struck by 15 bullets.
  • Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel Pendleton Sr., parents of 15-year-old Hadiya who was killed in a Chicago park.
  • Desiline Victor, a 103-year-old Florida woman who waited in line for several hours to vote.
  • Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.

House Minority Leader Pelosi:

  • Mother and daughter from Newtown, Conn. The 4th grader sent Pelosi a letter asking for her support to strengthen gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz.:

  • Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband Mark Kelly

Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas:

  • Musician and gun advocate Ted Nugent

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn.:

  • First Selectwoman Pat Llodra, a Republican and the Chief Executive Officer of Newtown
  • Newtown Detectives Jason Frank and Dan McAnaspie, two of several first responders who rushed to Sandy Hook Elementary School on the day of the tragedy

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.:

  • Undocumented immigrant Gabino Sanchez. The South Carolina husband and father of two U.S. citizen children is fighting deportation. Sanchez entered the country when he was 15 years old and has been working and living peacefully in the U.S. ever since.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

  • Josh Stepakoff, who in 1999 was shot at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, Calif. Stepakoff, now 20, is a student at California State University Northridge.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.:

  • Matt Gross, a New Jersey native who was shot in the head in 1997, at the age of 27. Gross was one of several victims wounded during a shooting attack on the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

More House Democrats bringing guests affected by gun violence:

Rep. Jim Langevin, R.I.
Rep. Keith Ellison, Minn.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, N.Y.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Conn.
Rep. David Cicilline, R.I.
Rep. Diana DeGette, Colo.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Ill.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, Conn.
Rep. Lois Frankel, Fla.
Rep. Lujan Grisham, N.M.
Rep. Janice Hahn, Calif.
Rep. Jim Himes, Conn.
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, Calif.
Rep. Gloria Negrete-McLeod, Calif.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Colo.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Ill.
Rep. Brad Schneider, Ill.
Rep. Bobby Scott, Va.
Rep. Mike Thompson, Calif.
Rep. Krysten Sinema, Ariz.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Md.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)


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