President Obama Delivers Final State of the Union Speech

The president said it's time to "fix our politics"

ByABC News
January 12, 2016, 10:49 PM

— -- In his final State of the Union address, President Obama outlined his vision for the future of the country, touting his accomplishments during his two terms in office and asking to "fix our politics."

“For my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to just talk about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, the next ten years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future,” he said.

"The future we want, all of us want –- opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids –- all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates," he said. "It will only happen if we fix our politics."

The president’s final State of the Union comes as much of the political world focuses on this year’s presidential election. Though he made no direct reference to specific candidates, Obama alluded to what some would call the divisive rhetoric used by Republicans on the campaign trail, warning of "voices urging us to fall back into our respective tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don't look like us or pray like us or vote like we do or share the same background."

"We need to reject any politics, any politics that targets people because of race or religion. Let me just say this: This is not matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding just what it is that makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith," he said.

The president also challenged those who say America's standing in the world has diminished.

"The talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air," he said. "Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. Let me tell you something: the United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. Period. It’s not even close."

President Obama reiterated his commitment to defeating ISIS, saying "priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks." The president criticized those who suggest ISIS poses an existential threat to the U.S.

"As we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands," he said. "Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks, twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians, they have to be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence."