February 12th, 2013
08:26 AM ET
2 years ago

State of the Union: The guest list

(CNN) - It's not a typical red carpet, but the guest list for Tuesday's State of the Union address features a range of names from successful CEOs to average Americans to local elementary school students.

Victims of gun violence will especially have a prominent role on the list of attendees, as President Obama is expected to again highlight his firearm proposals. Seated in the gallery will be at least 20 survivors of gun violence invited to attend the annual event by members of Congress, who are each given one ticket for a guest to view the speech in person.

Watch CNN's comprehensive coverage of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address starting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV and follow online at CNN.com or via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Follow our real-time State of the Union live blog at cnn.com/conversation.

The effort is organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. They've been vocal advocates for stricter gun control restrictions, airing television spots calling for legislative action following December's massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Joining the group will be former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, who were invited to attend the State of the Union by Rep. Ron Barber and Sen. John McCain. Both Barber and McCain represent Arizona, the state where Giffords was seriously injured during a shooting in 2011

The parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old Chicago girl shot and killed in Chicago last month, will be guests in first lady Michelle Obama's box. Pendleton was killed just a week after she performed in the festivities surrounding Obama's second inauguration, and the first lady attended her funeral on Saturday.

"This is a way of continuing the momentum, keeping the focus on the need for gun control legislation so we can further protect the people in our communities," Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, told CNN's Brianna Keilar on Sunday. A gun accident in 1980 left Langevin a quadriplegic.

"I want every member of Congress to known that when the president is speaking that night, he's addressing the nation, and he's talking about gun control, members of Congress are going to look up and they're going to see people in the gallery, and they're going to know those people have been affected by gun violence," Langevin said.

Among the lawmakers inviting gun violence survivors to Tuesday's speech is Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. Democratic lawmakers who represent Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado, are also inviting people affected by violence. Both of those communities were sites of deadly shootings in the last year.

People who were affected by both those shootings will be at Tuesday's speech. Carlos Soto, Jr., whose older sister Vicki was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary school, was invited by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut. Soto was killed as she attempted to hide her first grade students.

And Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, invited Teresa Hoover, who lost her son A.J. Boik in the Aurora movie theater shooting last summer. Other invitees include parents of children gunned down in gang violence, and family members of police officers who were shot.

Pelosi also invited legendary singer Tony Bennett as her guest. Bennett recently appeared in a Washington press conference urging Congress to act on tougher gun legislation. Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who backed tough gun legislation in Maryland, was also on Pelosi's list.

On the other side of the gun debate, musician and gun advocate Ted Nugent will be a guest of Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, on Tuesday.

While Obama will likely delve into gun violence, he's mostly expected to focus on jobs and the economy. As evidence, Apple CEO Tim Cook has made it onto the very short list of guests accompanied by the first lady. Cook will sit with Michelle Obama in special box seats, said a source with knowledge of the matter.

Also to sit in Obama's box is Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old woman from Florida who stood in line for three hours to vote early for the president on October 28. Poll workers advised her to come back at a later time when she wouldn't have to wait–and she did. Victor has since become a high-profile figure on the issue of voting rights and voting delays.

Bobak Ferdowsi, flight director for the Mars Curiosity Rover, will also get a seat with Obama's group. Known as NASA's "Mohawk Guy," Ferdowsi was part of the team that helped land the car-sized robot on Mars in August.

House Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile, invited Ted Kremer, a former batboy for the Cincinnati Reds. Ted, 30, was born with Down syndrome and has been "the toast of the town" since Cincinnati Enquirer sports writer John Erardi and video journalist Jeff Swinger featured Ted's story in September. Ted's parents, his brother and sister-in-law, and Erardi and Swinger will be joining them as well.

Jeanette Hernandez Prenger, named "Enterprising Women of the Year" for 2013 by Enterprising Women magazine, will also be a guest of Boehner. She serves as the CEO of a Kansas City-based data management firm called ECCO Select.

Laci Joseph and Henry Joseph, III, two fourth grade students at St. Anthony's Catholic School in Washington, D.C. will also attend as the speaker's guests. They'll be joined by Arthur Mola, principal at Sacred Heart School in Washington, the only bilingual elementary school in the Archdiocese of Washington.

Those also invited by Boehner include Jason Barlow, the president of UAW Local 402, a branch of the United Auto Workers union, and Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross.

– CNN's Ashley Killough, Kevin Liptak, Deirdre Walsh, and Julianne Pepitone contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • Gun control • Gun rights • State of the Union
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Al-NY,NY

    He's going to be there but maybe he'll follow thru on his promise. Psycho Ted Nugent said he'd be "either dead or in jail" So please Ted, keep your promise. The former is the preferred

    February 12, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    On the other side of the gun debate, musician and gun advocate Ted Nugent will be a guest of Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, on Tuesday.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Question: WHY? Why invite Ted Nugent?
    This man has expressed his disdain, dislike, and disrespect for THIS President. He didn't even feel the need for a public apology vis-a-vis his rant against the President, so why invite him to an event where the ONLY speaker will be the President?
    You can't convince me that these sore-losing, sour-grapes,disrespectful Republicans are not counting on Ted Nugent pulling a Joe Wilson. I don't trust them.
    So I'll be watching tonight....and listening.

    February 12, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  3. Moose

    Mr lip services finest hour, gitmo closing??? cut deficet in half ??? stimulas to put unemp @5.6%???
    solyndra??? and the hits keep comming, what a joke!!!

    February 12, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  4. Guest

    Wonder why they dont invite gun owners that have defended their families and homes against attack from violent criminals??

    February 12, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  5. Gurgyl

    They all look like sold-out thugs to me....

    February 12, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. Beth Burke

    I am confused. Since when is it okay for someone who clearly threatened the President, Ms Clinton, amonst others be allowed in a place where there is access to Our President. The people voted, President Obama clearly won. I personally went to a Ted Nugent concert in the late 70's. He should have stuck with music. His extremism and radicalism is the real danger to our freedom. He actually said "chop off thier heads"! Are there not background checks for events such as this. I am actually worried about what this man will do.

    February 12, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. Larry IN Houston

    Certainly they will give 'ol nugent a "pat down" lol – – – To be perfectly honest, they should do such a through pat down of anybody Nugent knows, or is friends with. I wouldn't trust Nugent with my own dog. ( if i had a dog ) (he's a big blow hard, among other things)

    February 12, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  8. plain&simple

    The ONLY appeal Ted Nugent has to anyone is in your face outright disregard and disrespect for this president AND the office of president. It's immature and an act of cowards. So all the small minded tea party bigots can feel real brave now,and the rest of the nation can see them for what the are.

    February 12, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. Lars

    I agree with Larry of Houston....In fact, that "pat down" need to include an "all cavity inspection" to ensure the safety of President Obama, whom Nugent has openly threatened should President Obama be re-elected to a second term.

    February 12, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Ah, yes. Steve Stockman, who probably could not pass a background check for gun purchase, inviting Ted Nugent. He was a mediocre musician back in the day, and has obviously ingested way too much peyote for his own good. Well, at least no one has invited "The-Former-Governor-of-Alaska-who-resigned-before-the-end-of-her-term-because-she-couldn't-take-the-pressure-of-having-a-failed-vice-presidency-candidacy-a-failed-TV-show-and-a-failed-career-with-FAUX-News(?)"!

    February 12, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Is Nugent going to demand his 2nd Amendment rights before he comes in?

    February 12, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    They got Nugent because Alex Jones was not available: besides, Nugent needs the exposure. When Joe Wilson is one of the moderates on the GOP side, you know they have crossed the threshold into irrelevancy. I just hope they keep a camera on his face throughout the address, so we can record every gesture, every word that he mouths or utters: he will be the face for the GOP in the debate about gun control, and he will sink the GOP. Self-control is not something that people will associate with Nugent, and I want him to be his usual Motor City Madman self during the SOTU address.

    February 12, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. Guest

    Liberal threats are nothing new yet now that it involves your boy king it should be considered disrespect and a danger to the president? Hypocrites.

    February 12, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |