State of the Union: 5 things to watch

NEED TO KNOW
  • Economy, job creation, gun control expected to be hot topics during Tuesday's State of the Union
  • First lady Michelle Obama will have special guests in the viewing box

Fresh off his re-election and second inauguration, President Obama is expected to lay out his second-term agenda Tuesday night. Here are five things to watch for during his State of the Union address.

1. Where's the bipartisan love?: Obama is likely to praise bipartisan support on immigration reform, but the elephant in the room may be how the president and congressional Republicans are far apart in solving the country's lingering budget woes. The president will likely use the address to push for more cooperation across the aisle to further his economic plan.

2. Troops coming home: Obama is expected to announce that 34,000 U.S. troops will have returned from Afghanistan by this time next year, according to sources familiar with the speech. There are currently 66,000 troops in Afghanistan. A senior administration official told CNN that more troop reductions will continue through the year as Afghans take full responsibility for their own security. 

3. Who's on the guest list: In a push for stricter gun control, Obama has invited family members and survivors affected by gun violence. Among the invitees: former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot during a 2011 rally in Arizona, and the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teen gunned down just a week after she participated in Obama's second inauguration.

In addition, lawmakers who represent Newtown, Connecticut, and Aurora, Colorado -- sites of recent deadly shootings -- are also inviting people affected by violence. On the other side of the debate, musician and gun advocate Ted Nugent will be there as a guest of Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas. Last year, Nugent was investigated by the Secret Service after he said he would be “dead or in jail” if Obama got re-elected.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and ECCO Select CEO Jeanette Hernandez Prenger will also be in attendance as Obama talks about jobs and the economy.

4. Looking ahead to 2016: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will give the Republican response to the State of the Union address. Officials say the response will be delivered in English and Spanish as the GOP tries to reach out to Hispanic voters. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will deliver the tea party response after Rubio’s response.

"We are giving a voice to the tea party movement when the mainstream media and the Republican establishment wants to write us off as dead," Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, told CNN. Political pundits say both rising GOP stars could be strong contenders in the next election.

5. What's she wearing? First lady Michelle Obama has used the State of the Union to unveil some bold fashion choices. Last year, she wore a bright blue sapphire gown. What will it be this year? We already know she has a new hairdo, but will the clothes match?

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