WASHINGTON (CBS) -- President Obama heads to North Carolina today to begin pushing the plans he laid out in his State of the Union address last night. The president called on Congressional leaders from both parties to find compromise on economic issues, and for lawmakers to bring gun legislation to the floor for a vote.
President Obama used the first State of the Union address of his second term to send a message to lawmakers: get to work. He says, "The American people don't expect government to solve every problem. But they do expect us to put the nation's interests before party."
The hour-long speech focused mainly on domestic and economic issues, and on the need for a divided congress to compromise. He said political brinksmanship, threats of government shut-downs and unilateral spending cuts hurt the country. President Obama says, "Let's agree, right here, right now, to keep the people's government open, pay our bills on time and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America."
The president drew strong applause when he announced that 34,000 troops would return from Afghanistan by this time next year, half the U.S. force there. He also got a standing ovation when he talked about gun laws.
The president said bills on background checks and large magazines are being discussed and that lawmakers owe it to victims of gun violence to bring them to the floor. President Obama says, "They deserve a vote. Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote."
In the Republican response, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the president's economic plans would hurt the middle class. He says, "Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors."
President Obama will make his case to the American people with rallies later this week in Georgia and Illinois.
The president also called on Congress to send him an immigration reform bill that he can sign into law in the next few months.