Nightly News   |  February 13, 2013

Obama lays out ambitious agenda in SOTU

Republicans accused President Obama of rehashing partisan rhetoric during Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, as Obama called on Congress to raise the minimum wage, combat climate change and provide high-quality pre-school for every child in America. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>>> president obama took last night's state of the union message on the economy on the road today to north carolina . but back in washington, the ideas he put forward are falling flat with republicans. our report tonight from white house correspondent peter alexander .

>> reporter: road testing his new economic plan on a day trip to north carolina , president obama toured this auto parts plant near asheville, canadian company expanding its operations here.

>> i believe in manufacturing. i think it makes our country stronger.

>> reporter: republicans today charged mr. obama's speech last night, rehashed the same old partisan rhetoric.

>> another retread of lip service and liberalism. for a democratic president entering his second term, it was simply unequal to the moment.

>> reporter: the president used the first state of the union of his second term to lay out an ambitious agenda.

>> it is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government --

>> reporter: with calls to combat climate change through the use of cleaner energy, provide high-quality preschool for every child in america. and raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour. the white house says would affect 15 million americans. but it's a move republicans insist would hamper growth.

>> at a time when the american people are still asking the question where are the jobs, why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?

>> reporter: but tuesday night's emotional high points --

>> countless other communities ripped open by gun violence , they deserve a simple vote.

>> reporter: the president's personal appeal on behalf of the victims of gun violence . like the parents of 15-year-old hadiya pendelton, who attended last month's inaugural.

>> she was shot and killed in a chicago park after school. just a mile away from my house.

>> reporter: mr. obama closing with a simple refrain.

>> gabby giffords deserves a vote. the families of newtown deserve a vote. the families of aurora deserve a vote.

>> reporter: brian, also tonight, a setback for the president's pick for defense secretary , chuck hagel , because of continued republican opposition. hagel will need 60 votes to be confirmed, not the usual simple majority . that's the first time that's ever happened for a defense secretary nominee. that vote showdown will happen before the end of this week.

>> peter alexander at the white house for us tonight. peter,