President Obama defended his record and attempted to downplay the threat of ISIS as he delivered his final State of the Union address on Tuesday. The remarks on ISIS are sure to rile Republican critics who say the president’s strategy for confronting the group is inadequate – particularly just hours after ISIS was blamed for another deadly attack, this time in Istanbul. He was on defense on foreign policy, calling Republicans’ strident threats of a growing ISIS overblown. Republican GOP candidates swiftly rebuked him for underestimating the threat of terrorism. He mocked the contention that fighters on “on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages” represented an existential threat to America.
Obama’s election-year address had the air of a valedictory farewell, defending the progress made over the last seven years and setting out an agenda that will likely remain unfinished long after his presidency ends: turning back the effects of climate change, launching a “moonshot” to cure cancer, and cultivating a grassroots movement to demand changes in the political system. Obama also gave an undertaking to fight to close the war on terror camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.