Ahead Of Obama's State Of The Union Address, Take A Look At SOTU's Most Memorable Moments

01/28/2014 04:30 pm ET | Updated Jan 28, 2014
  • The Huffington Post
ASSOCIATED PRESS

All eyes will be on President Barack Obama tonight as he gives his annual State of the Union address at 9 p.m. ET.

This will be Obama's fifth official State of the Union address. While each president to give this speech has made headlines, the responses to the speech often make just as much news.

Here's a look back at some of the most memorable moments in SOTU history:

  • Justice Alito Mouths 'Not True'
    AP
    During the 2010 State of the Union, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words "not true," in response to President Barack Obama's statement that the Court's ruling in the Citizens United case had "open[ed] the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections."
  • Attendees Caught Sleeping?
    After President George W. Bush's address in 2007, many outlets reported that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had fallen asleep. However, as The New York Times pointed out, McCain was likely reading a copy of the speech and just appeared to be dozing off. During the 2010 address, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was also caught looking like she was taking a nap, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was spotted yawning while his colleagues applauded President Obama's remarks.
  • Bush Criticized For Using Term 'Democrat Majority'
    AP
    In his 2007 address, President Bush began his speech on a bipartisan foot by commending new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying "I congratulate the Democrat majority." By eliminating the syllable "-ic" from the word "Democratic," Bush caused a stir among liberals. The phrase "Democrat party" has long been an epithet used by Republicans to express contempt for their opponents. However, it's unclear whether the omission was intentional. The text of Bush's speech said "Democratic party," suggesting that the use of the term was accidental.
  • Democrats Boo President Bush
    After Bush claimed in his 2005 address that Social Security will be "exhausted and bankrupt" by 2042, Democratic members of Congress booed and heckled the president. Many pundits called an "unprecedented" reaction. However, as Media Matters pointed out, Republicans had similarly booed President Bill Clinton during previous State of the Union addresses.
  • Bush Coins 'Axis Of Evil'
    In his 2002 address, President Bush highlighted the threats posed by North Korea, Iran and Iraq. "States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world," he said.
  • Clinton Replaces 'Livable' With 'Liberal'
    AP
    President Clinton made a Freudian slip during his final State of the Union address in 2000, twice replacing the word "livable" with the word "liberal," and then abruptly correcting himself: Last year, the Vice President launched a new effort to make communities more liberal -- livable -- (laughter) -- liberal, I know. (Laughter and applause.) Wait a minute, I've got a punchline now. That's this year's agenda; last year was livable, right? (Laughter.) That's what Senator Lott is going to say in the commentary afterwards. (Laughter.) To make our communities more livable. This is big business. This is a big issue. What does that mean? You ask anybody that lives in an unlivable community, and they'll tell you. They want their kids to grow up next to parks, not parking lots; the parents don't have to spend all their time stalled in traffic when they could be home with their children. Tonight, I ask you to support new funding for the following things, to make American communities for liberal -- livable. (Laughter and applause.) I've done pretty well with this speech, but I can't say that. (Applause.)
  • Clinton Bypasses Impeachment Troubles
    AP
    Despite being in the middle of his trial, Bill Clinton made no explicit mention of impeachment during the 1999 State of the Union. The closest he came was alluding to his troubles: "Yet perhaps in the daily press of events, in the clash of controversy, we do not see our own time for what it truly is: a new dawn for America."
  • Reagan Leads With George Washington Joke
    AP
    In 1982, President Ronald Reagan began his first official State of the Union address with a joke that poked fun at the media: "President Washington began this tradition in 1790, after reminding the nation that the destiny of self-government and the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty is finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people. "For our friends in the press who place a high premium on accuracy, let me say, I did not actually hear George Washington say that."
  • Nixon Calls For End Of Watergate Investigation
    AP
    Six months before resigning from office in disgrace, President Richard Nixon called on Congress to end the Watergate investigation. During his 1974 address, he said, "I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough."
  • LBJ Introduces Great Society
    AP
    President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced his Great Society program during his 1965 address. The domestic policy was aimed at eliminating poverty and racial injustice. "The Great Society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth but how to use it; not only how fast we are going, but where we are headed," he said. "It proposes as the first test for a nation: the quality of its people."
  • Lincoln Foreshadows Emancipation Proclamation
    AP
    During his 1862 State of the Union address, President Abraham Lincoln foreshadowed the Emancipation Proclamation, which he would sign just a month later. "In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve," he said.
  • James Monroe Outlines His Eponymous Doctrine
    AP
    In his 1823 address to Congress, President James Monroe outlined what would become to be known as the "Monroe Doctrine," a key foundation of American foreign policy. As he declared, "The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers."

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