President Barack Obama has deliverd his final State of the Union speech on Wednesday (Jan 13) as US commander in chief.
He promised to keep this speech, his eighth, "a little shorter," joking that many in the audience need to get to Iowa, site of the first US party caucuses ahead of November's presidential election.
"For my final address to this chamber, I don't want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future," he said.
Mr Obama's final State of the Union address is one of his few remaining chances to capture the attention of millions of Americans before November's election of a new president who will take office next January.
'WORSE INSTEAD OF BETTER'
In his speech, the US president mentioned he would launch a new national effort to cure cancer with Vice President Joe Biden leading the mission, adding he would also press Congress to fund the fight against malaria in Africa.
"For the loved ones we've all lost, for the family we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all."
Mr Obama also called for America to fix its political system to stop the practice of gerrymandering congressional districts, reduce the influence of money in politics, and make voting easier.
"Democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn't matter, that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest," Obama said.
"Too many Americans feel that way right now. It's one of the few regrets of my presidency, that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better," he added.
Addressing poverty, the US president said he was willing to work with Republican Speaker Paul Ryan on reforms to address the issue, such as expanding the earned income tax cut (EITC).
"I'd welcome a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers without kids."
He also touched upon energy, saying the United States must transition away from dirty energy and stop subsidizing fuels of the past.
"I'm going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet," the US president said in his address.
In an address aimed at laying out an optimistic vision of America's future, Mr Obama accused critics of playing into the hands of Islamic State (ISIL) by comparing the fight against the militant group to World War Three.
"Masses of fighters on the back of pick-up trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence," he said.
"That's the story ISIL wants to tell; that's the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don't need to build them up to show that we're serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world's largest religions," he added.
The remarks were a repudiation of Republican criticism of his strategy against Islamic State and, not so subtly, of Republican front-runner Donald Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
"When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn't make us safer. That's not telling it like it is. It's just wrong," Mr Obama said.
"It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals, and it betrays who we are as a country."
Obama's address comes as 10 sailors aboard two US Navy boats were taken into Iranian custody. Iran told the United States the crew members would be "promptly" returned, US officials said. The event gave Republicans further fodder to criticize Obama's nuclear deal with Tehran.
Obama, however, did not address the issue at the top of his speech.
'I BELIEVE IN CHANGE'
President Obama wrapped up his final State of the Union address with a forceful statement of confidence in the future of the United States.
"I believe in change because I believe in you," he said in his closing remarks, generating a standing ovation. "That's why I stand here as confident as I have ever been that the State of our Union is strong."
Obama received about a dozen standing ovations during his address, but just a handful were fully bipartisan.
In addition to the standing ovation that greeted the entry of First Lady Michelle Obama, the other bipartisan applause moments came after his comments on cutting red tape and outdated regulations, when he announced Vice President Biden would lead a cancer "moonshot" initiative and when he lauded the US military as the finest fighting force in the world.