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Reaction to the State of the Union


11:40 pm: That's all for First Read tonight. Look for lots of fresh analysis from the NBC politics team in tomorrow's First Thoughts. Thanks as always for following along!

11:37 pm: One last update as we get ready to sign off from a big night of live-blogging. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reported earlier tonight that Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left the State of the Union after finding out that her son needed an appendectomy.

He's okay, the senator said tonight.

"Thanks for all the prayers for Matt. Appendix is out - with just a few hours before rupture - all is well," she tweeted.

11:33 pm: Via Luke Russert, one ardent conservative was pleased that Obama spoke at length about America's greatness.

Speaking to NBC News tonight, Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a spirited retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, commended Obama for his mentioning of "American Exceptionalism."

"When he talked about American exceptionalism and the American dream it was great to finally hear him say those type of things because it does make us unique in who we are," West said.

11:29 pm: More on that "socialism" tweet by Rep. Paul Broun, via Roll Call:

Broun spokeswoman Debbee Keller told Roll Call that her boss tweets about the address every year from the confines of his office, instead of attending the event in the House chamber. “Out of respect, he watches the President’s speech from his office and uses his desktop computer.”

NBC's Luke Russert notes that Broun has said outlandish things about Obama before. In March of 2010 he compared President Obama to "Snooki" from the MTV show "The Jersey Shore," saying "I don't know if we should be insulted or humored at the President's feeble attempts to incorporate Republican ideas into his latest health care proposal, Snookie [sic], from the Jersey Shore, has more substance than President Obama's offer."

11:26 pm: Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democrat, liked the president's remarks - saying his focus on the economy "hit exactly the right notes" -- but she would have liked more specifics on the debt.

“I think the best thing the President did was explain the transition of the economy so the average person can understand it," she said in a statement. "But I was disappointed by the absence of an overall formula to deal with the very serious and worsening deficit.”

11:18 pm: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., commented on Obama's Sputnik reference in his response to the speech.

"The president’s biggest push was to advance an argument he has made many times in the past – that the government is a vital partner in making investments and spurring innovation.  The problem is we’ve had countless Sputnik moments in recent decades that have created little more than space junk."

11:14 pm: At least one congressman was tweeting his responses to Obama's remarks during the speech itself, and he wasn't happy with what he was hearing.

Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., wrote on his Twitter feed during the speech - among other critiques  - "Mr. President, you don't believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism."

11:12 pm: Bachmann camera shot explained: Reports say she was looking into the Tea Party Express camera, not the network pool camera operated by Fox News.

11:06 pm: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat who campaigned against some Obama policies and faces a re-election race in 2012, praised Obama's call for civility but raised questions about his strategy for addressing the deficit. "I appreciate the President’s call for a freeze on existing spending, but I am, frankly, concerned to hear him signal additional new spending by the federal government, and I will carefully evaluate his proposals. The fact is, we must deal with our long-term debt problems in a responsible way that does not burden our children and grandchildren with more debt."

He also disagrees with the president's call to ban earmarks. "I truly believe that spending geared toward infrastructure – when done in a transparent manner – is a commonsense investment in countless communities in West Virginia and around the country," he said in a statement.

11:04 pm: In a tweet, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she enjoyed the seating arrangement at SOTU.

"Liked bipartisan seating tonight.Less like a team sporting event,more serious"  

11:03 pm: Ouch - Sen. John Cornyn of Texas: "In Texas we prefer straight talk and promises kept, over grandiose pledges and zero results."

10:58 pm: House Speaker John Boehner, in a statement, said that he's glad Obama "recognizes the need" to reach across the aisle, but he bemoaned Obama's spending proposals.

"As I've stated in the past, when the president is willing to work with us on the people's priorities, we'll be ready to work with him. Unfortunately, even as he talked about the need for fiscal discipline, President Obama called for more 'stimulus' spending without making a commitment to the cuts and reforms the American people are demanding."

Boehner called the "partial" spending freeze "inadequate."

10:57 pm: Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts told NBC News that he thought Obama's remarks hit on "good points."

"It wasn't a ra-ra speech but it was balanced and it hit on a lot of good points," Brown said. "As a Republican I'm looking forward to working with him and finding some common ground to move our country forward."

Brown's up for re-election in blue Massachusetts in 2012.

10:56 pm: Bachmann's remarks now complete. We'll bring you a few more from lawmakers and organizations as we get 'em.  

10:55 pm: Lots of Twitter traffic about how Bachmann appeared to be looking slightly off to the right of the camera rather than right into the lens...

10:54 pm: Bachmann shows famous image of six young soldiers at Iwo Jima.

"Our current debt crisis we face today is different, but we still need all of us to pull together. We can do this."

10:53 pm: Bachmann: "Thanks to you, there's reason to hope that real spending cuts are coming. Last November you went to the polls and voted out big-spending politicians and you put in their place men and women with a commitment to follow the Constitution and cut the size of government."

10:52 pm: Like Ryan, Bachmann offers strong words about health care and calls for its reform. "In the end, unless we fully repeal ObamaCare, a nation that currently enjoys the world's best healthc  re may be forced to rely on government-run coverage that will have a devastating impact on our national debt for generations to come."

10:51 pm: Bachmann: "Deficits were unacceptably high under President Bush, but they exploded under President Obama's direction, growing the national debt by an astounding $3.1 trillion-dollars."

10:50 pm: She's got charts! Bachmann uses a visual aid to show unemployment rates over the last 10 years.

10:50 pm: Right off the bat, Bachmann notes that she's not the official GOP representative responding to the speech. She says she's speaking at the invitation of the Tea Party Express.

10:49 pm: Bachmann's remarks are starting now.

10:45 pm: If you missed Ryan's speech, you can watch the video here.

10:43 pm: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also a gun control advocate, is also unhappy that Obama did not mention gun laws.

"... in discussing the terrible tragedy in Tucson, he missed an opportunity to bring the country together on an issue that has support among the vast majority of Americans: fixing the nation's broken background check system that is designed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Its absence was disappointing, but it will not slow the momentum we are building around the country, and in both parties, for common sense measures to strengthen law enforcement and improve public safety."

10:42 pm: Gun control advocate Rep. Carolyn McCarthy says in a statement that she's "disappointed" that Obama didn't speak about gun control laws.

10:37 pm: Meanwhile, the responses from lawmakers continue to pour in.

In a video response, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky slammed Obama's overtures to moderates as shallow. "President Obama will try to run to the center, to emulate President Clinton after the Republicans took over in 1994. But it hurts him, and he isn't quite as good at it as his predecessor."

10:36 pm: Michele Bachmann will be speaking shortly. You can watch the stream online here:

Only one television network - CNN -- is taking Bachmann's unofficial response live to air.

10:35 pm: Ryan and Obama both spoke about the uniqueness of America. Ryan, tonight: "These are not easy times, but America is an exceptional nation. In all the chapters of human history, there has never been anything quite like America. The American story has been cherished, advanced, and defended over the centuries."

10:35 pm: Notes NBC's Chuck Todd: "Obama was trying to sell optimism, [but] Paul Ryan has a more somber message."

10:34 pm: Ryan: "We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative - not political clout - determines who succeeds."

10:33 pm: Referencing debt crises in Greece and Iceland, Ryan says "Speaking candidly, as one citizen to another: We still have time… but not much time. If we continue down our current path, we know what our future will be."

10:30 pm: Fun Ryan fact: After the 2008 election, some - including an editorial in the Wall Street Journal - encouraged Ryan to challenge then-Minority Leader John Boehner as leader of the GOP in the House. The editorial said Ryan was equipped, especially because of his "youthful energy," with the ability to "pull his party in a more promising direction." Ryan obviously decided against it.

10:30 pm: On government spending: "We owe you a better choice and a different vision."

10:28 pm: He slams health care reform. "Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees."

He references House Republicans' vote to repeal the law week.

10:27 pm: "Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies - an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus."

10:26 pm: Ryan: "Tonight, the President focused a lot of attention on our economy in general - and on our deficit and debt in particular. He was right to do so, and some of his words were reassuring. As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, I assure you that we want to work with the President to restrain federal spending."

10:26 pm: "We all miss Gabby and her cheerful spirit; and we are praying for her return to the House Chamber."

10:25 pm: Here's Ryan. He's speaking from the House Budget Committee meeting room.

10:18 pm: We'll be live-blogging reaction to the president's State of the Union speech here, including the official GOP reaction from Rep. Paul Ryan and the (unofficial) Tea Party response from Rep. Michele Bachmann.

As one of us wrote earlier today, Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998 at age 28. He was once offered the job of budget director for President George W. Bush. (He turned the job down to stay in Congress, where he rocketed to the top of the budget panel two years later.)