State of the Union address draws praise, criticism from Columbians

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | 10:56 p.m. CST; updated 12:33 a.m. CST, Wednesday, January 26, 2011
From left, Mykel Archie, Rachel Quick and Hayley Cole watch the State of the Union speech Tuesday at Room 38 Restaurant & Lounge. Quick and Cole are graduate students at MU and were pleased to see the local venue was hosting a watch party. "Columbia doesn't have many political outlets to come and watch these sorts of things." Cole said.

COLUMBIA — In the backroom lounge of Room 38, 20 people looked up at the television, waiting to hear President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Generation 44, an arm of the Democratic National Committee, organized the watch party in hopes of creating a "grassroots" effort in Columbia.

“I really want President Obama to talk about what he has accomplished over the past two years in clear terms. The prevalence goes to what’s said on Fox News,” said Crystal Lovett, the Generation 44 coordinator for the Columbia area.

Although most people in attendance described themselves as liberals, not everyone was there to lend a sympathetic ear to the president.

“There aren’t any jobs in Columbia, not for an engineer,” said Tim Bishop, 60, a mechanical engineer for BioMérieux in St. Louis.

Bishop often commutes to work in St. Louis and has to spend most nights there.

“I want Obama to talk about why he is still giving tax breaks to companies who send their business overseas,” he said.

Obama spent more than an hour outlining his legislative agenda for 2011, including issues such as renewable energy, education and investment in infrastructure.

After the speech, Bishop said he felt he was still missing the information he had come to hear.

“He addressed everything but jobs," he said. "Everything he said was based on taxpayer money. We can’t pay taxes if there is no jobs. He has to address that.”

When asked to describe how he felt about the address overall, Bishop said he was “encouraged, but I can’t compete with a guy making $5 an hour. I just can’t.”

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