Obama talks up bright future for US in last Union speech
PRESIDENT Barack Obama told Americans in his final State of the Union address not to fear the future, portraying a revitalised country as he countered charges by Republicans that he had led the United States in the wrong direction in the past seven years.
In the prime-time address on Tuesday before a joint session of Congress, he assailed Republicans for talking up the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group and talking down the American economy, the Agence France-Presse reported.
The address departed from Mr Obama's past practice of outlining executive actions intended to sidestep gridlock in Washington, the New York Times pointed out.
Instead, he sought to pose and answer the four central questions his aides said were driving the debate about America's future - how to ensure opportunity for everyone, how to harness technological change, how to keep the country safe and how to fix the nation's broken politics.
Mr Obama insisted "America has been through big changes before" as he took thinly-veiled shots at Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other leading Republican presidential candidates.
"Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future, who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control.
"And, each time, we overcame those fears."
With less than three weeks until the Iowa caucuses - the first votes cast in the process to replace him - Mr Obama berated Republican economic rhetoric, saying "anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction".
But some of his toughest words were for Republican statements over the rise of ISIS.
He admitted that the extremists, who have overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq, pose an "enormous danger" but made clear: "They do not threaten our national existence."
He said: "Our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet-bomb civilians.
"That may work as a TV soundbite but it doesn't pass muster on the world's stage."
But the President also tacitly, and explicitly, admitted mistakes.
There was no mention of the racial tensions that have dogged the tenure of the first black president, and only a fleeting reference to gun control and the toll of American gun violence.