How the top 2016 candidates reacted to the State of the Union address

Yahoo | By Hunter Walker

All the leading candidates to succeed him weighed in on President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.

Democrat Hillary Clinton posted a slew of tweets about the speech. She also released an ad during the address in which she expressed support for Obama’s executive actions on guns.

Clinton and her campaign have increasingly focused on gun control as polls show her top rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, running a close race in the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton’s team has argued she has a record of more aggressively favoring gun control than Sanders.

Sanders was in the audience for Obama’s speech along with the other members of Congress. He only posted one tweet about the address, which he dubbed “important.”

“The president reminded us not to be afraid of change, but to wield it to improve the lives of all Americans,” Sanders wrote.

Sanders also discussed the speech in an appearance on MSNBC, praising Obama’s call for campaign finance reform and increased efforts to fight climate change.

“I was thinking that maybe the president was paying attention to my basic speech there,” Sanders said.

On MSNBC, Sanders was also asked about Clinton’s implication that he doesn’t back Obama’s gun control efforts. Sanders said he “very strongly” supports the president on gun control and noted his voting record in Congress earned him a D- rating from the National Rifle Association. He suggested Clinton’s attacks were motivated by her fading lead.

“I think what Secretary Clinton knows is that… she is in trouble now in New Hampshire and Iowa,” said Sanders.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump reacted to the speech with a trio of tweets. In one, he criticized the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran as “terrible.” Trump then slammed Obama’s address as “really boring, slow, lethargic — very hard to watch!” He doubled down on that critique in his final message.

“The State Of The Union speech was one of the most boring, rambling and non-substantive I have heard in a long time. New leadership fast!” he wrote.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chose not to attend the speech. He defended that decision and criticized Obama’s remarks in an interview on NBC News.

“I think the speech tonight surprised nobody. It was more of the same. It was — sadly, I think it was less a State of the Union than it was a state of denial,” Cruz said. “President Obama demonstrated just how out of touch he is. He told the American people the economy’s doing fantastic. … That’s not what I’m hearing from the men and women across this country.”

Cruz also attacked the president for not referring to recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, Calif., which were carried out by sympathizers of the jihadist group the Islamic State (also known as ISIS).

“Once again, President Obama refused even to say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ much less demonstrate any clarity, any vision — any plan to destroy them,” Cruz said.

On Twitter, Cruz posted several similar messages. He also retweeted a post from conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg that referred to the widespread impression that some of Obama’s comments seemed to be directed at Cruz and Trump.

“So, will Barack Obama charge Donald Trump and Ted Cruz rent since it’s clear they’ve set up residence in his head?” Goldberg asked.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., tweeted out a video in which he also criticized Obama’s response to terrorism, among other things.

“Barack Obama released terrorists from Guantanamo, and now they’re plotting to attack us. Instead of fighting to fund our troops, he fights to fund Planned Parenthood. He spies on Israel and cut a deal with Iran,” Rubio said. “His plan after the attack in San Bernardino? Take away our guns. And while ISIS is beheading people and burning them in cages, he says climate change is our greatest threat. … America needs a real commander in chief and a president who will keep us safe.”

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