State of the Union themes prominent in President's UNO speech

President Barack Obama speaking at UNO's Baxter Arena Wednesday. (Photo by Mike Tobias, NET News)
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January 13, 2016 - 10:25pm

President Barack Obama made his first significant trip to Nebraska Wednesday, in the wake of his final State of the Union address. The president delivered a speech at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


From the moment President Obama took the stage at Baxter Arena it was obvious this was a crowd more like the Omahans who helped him win one of the state’s split electoral votes in 2008 than the large majority of Nebraskans who twice voted against him. Lots of adoration and lots of raucous ovations for mentioning UNO hockey, name dropping Warren Buffett, recognizing Omaha’s lower-than-national average unemployment rate and noting Nebraska’s role in the Ebola fight.

Watch President Obama's entire UNO speech HERE

"We couldn’t be prouder of the heroic doctors and nurses, including here at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, who heroically treated and care for patients," Obama said.

Most of Obama’s 45-minute UNO speech continued four themes that comprised a major portion of Tuesday’s State of the Union address: economic opportunity and security, making technology work for and not against us, keeping America safe without becoming the world’s policeman…and political civility.

“America is at its best when we see ourselves as one people," Obama said. "Not Democrat first, not Republican first, but Americans first. That’s our priority.”

The term “change” has been a constant theme throughout Obama’s two elections and seven years in office. At UNO, he spoke of change in relation to a letter from Papillion-LaVista High School teacher Lisa Miller. That led to Miller introducing the president on stage, shortly after he stopped at her home for a visit. His message to Miller, and the audience: this is a time of "extraordinary," "unsettling" change, but "we’ve been through this before."

“And each time we overcame our fears, and we overcame our challenges," Obama said. "Each time we made change work for us, and each time we emerged stronger and better than we were before.”

After a little more than three hours in Nebraska, Obama departed from Offutt Air Force Base for Thursday events in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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