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Local lawmakers watching President Obama's State of the Union speech in the House chamber Tuesday night split on partisan lines in their reaction.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said in a telephone interview with The Blade that the President's speech seemed tailored for her district, with its emphasis on energy, manufacturing, and the need for training and education.
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"He talked about the automotive industry, about manufacturing, rewarding investment in the United States. That is music in our district. I was thrilled that he dedicated an entire page of his speech to energy and jobs," Miss Kaptur said. She said his references to natural gas directly concern Ohio and his emphasis on electric cars is an opportunity for her district, that stretches from Toledo to Cleveland, because of its wealth of natural and human resources.
She applauded his speech as a "vigorous call for action," and graded it an "A-plus."
U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) said the President should have taken responsibility for the "failures of Obamacare" and shown "a vision for how we can create jobs and get this economy back on track."
"Instead, we heard the same rhetoric and empty promises to which we've grown accustomed,” Mr. Latta said in a prepared response issued after the President finished his address.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R., Tipton) said the President's call for "a year of action" was "long overdue."
“If the President wants real action, he and the Senate need to start working with the House in helping improve education, create jobs, lower health care costs and help Americans take home more of their paychecks," Mr. Walberg said in the statement issued by his office after the address.
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Urbana) also thought the President whiffed.
"President Obama missed a great opportunity to humbly engage both Congress and the American people with new ideas about how to turn our economy around. Instead, he went back to the same old arrogant Washington playbook that for the past five years has failed to help create the jobs families in Ohio need," Mr. Jordan said in a prepared comment after the speech.
Lawmakers were entitled to bring one guest each, and most used the opportunity to press their ideological point.
Miss Kaptur brought along Lorain teacher Manuel “Manny” Santana, a special ed teacher, who used his unemployment benefits to get an education degree from Ashland University.
“When we invest in our people, we reap the dividends for many years to come,” Miss Kaptur said.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) brought with him Elizabeth Dandridge, a teacher’s assistant in Cincinnati, as an example of the nearly 1.3 million Ohioans who stand to receive a pay raise if the minimum wage was increased to $10.10 an hour as Brown has proposed.
Mr. Latta brought along Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, owner of a Findlay trucking company, who said the Affordable Care Act is driving up the cost of health care.
“We need to scrap it and start over,” said Ms. Brumbaugh, explaining that she blames “ObamaCare” for the 17-percent increase in her insurance last year and a projected 20-percent increase in 2014.
Mr. Walberg brought Julia Boonstra, 49, of Dexter, who has been fighting leukemia. She lost her coverage because of ObamaCare and wanted her old plan back, she said.