(CNN) - Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall released a letter Wednesday proposing that members of both political parties sit next to each other at this year's State of the Union address instead of the normal seating which is divided along party lines.
"As the nation watches, Democrats and Republicans should reflect the interspersed character of America itself," Udall wrote. "Perhaps, by sitting with each other for one night, we will begin to rekindle that common spark that brought us here from 50 different states and widely diverging backgrounds to serve the public good."
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama appeared live on the computer screens of Americans across the country Monday, answering questions they had posed.
In an interview distributed on YouTube, the popular Internet video site, Obama lobbied for his job creation and clean energy plans while disputing one questioner's premise that he broke a campaign promise to conduct business in the open.
"People know more about the inner workings of this White House, the meetings we have," than they did under previous administrations, Obama said in response to a question from a man named Warren. "We have followed through on a lot of what we said, so Warren's mistaken in how he characterized it."
At the same time, Obama acknowledged that some later negotiations on health care reform occurred out of the public eye. He said that would change as he works with Congress in "the last five yards before we get to the goal-line."
"No secrets, no surprises," Obama said of the final health care proposals.
Washington (CNN) - For the past five days, 55,340 people asked 11,695 questions to President Barack Obama on YouTube. Voters then cast 643,507 votes to determine the top questions YouTube will ask Obama Monday at the White House in an unprecedented live interview streamed on YouTube.com/CitizenTube.
"Neither the President nor his staff will know which questions will [be] asked ahead of time," blogged Steve Grove, who heads News and Politics on YouTube. "But what's clear from looking at the submissions is that they represent a broad cross-section of topics and concerns."
The event, which will air at 1:45 p.m. ET, will be the first interview with the president since he delivered his State of the Union. YouTube opened up its platform Wednesday as Obama was delivering his nationally televised speech to Congress. Grove will ask some of the most popular questions that were voted upon by YouTube users.
"When people are asked to weigh in on what matters most to them in an open forum, the result is a fascinating and informative look at the pulse of the country," Grove wrote on the YouTube blog. "It's this kind of transparency and direct access to information that we believe represents the promise of platforms like YouTube to improve our politics."
Later: Obama answers questions from public in YouTube interview
(CNN) - President Obama is taking heat from a Senate Democrat over how he dealt with the issue of health care in his first State of the Union speech.
"I think the president should have been more clear about a way forward on health care last night," Sen. Mary Landrieu told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday. "I'm hoping in the next week or two he will be, because that's what it's going to take if it's at all possible to get this done."
"Mailing in general suggestions, sending them over the transom is not necessarily going to work," the Louisiana Democrat added.
Obama didn't address the signature issue of his first year in office until about halfway through the 71-minute speech, and then only discussed it for about five minutes. But he urged Congress not to abandon the effort that now appears in limbo following the Democratic Party's recent loss of its supermajority in the Senate.
"Do not walk away from reform. Not now," Obama said. "Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people."
Landrieu, one of the last members of her party to agree to the final Senate health care bill, also suggested the president erred in allowing three separate Senate and House committees to pass various versions of the bill.
"As far as I know, the president thought it was a good idea to have three different bills debated," she said.
"No wonder people got confused. So it's not completely our fault that that was the plan."
Landrieu also said she felt the president unfairly blamed the Senate during his speech for holding up a series of initiatives that had already cleared the House.
"I thought he was pointing his finger at the Senate a lot throughout the speech last night … no I do not think its fair," she said. "Moderate Senate Democrats, who give the Senate the 60 votes, come from states that have to appreciate a broad range of ideas and since the president ran on a bipartisan, change, working with Republicans, [he] doesn't do a great service to then say everything the House passes without any Republican votes is something the Senate should just take."
– CNN's Ted Barrett and Alexander Mooney contributed this report
Washington (CNN) - President Obama acknowledged Wednesday night that he's faced political setbacks during his first year in office.
Obama's first State of the Union speech was the pivot his critics believe he should have made months ago. Health care is now on the back burner, and the pain of a lingering economic recession is front and center.
"I realize that for every success story, there are other stories of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from," Obama said. "That is why jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight."
His speech is likely to play well with independent voters, whose support of Obama has waned since helping him get elected, one expert on independent voters said.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – In his State of the Union speech Wednesday night, President Obama touted a slew of federal initiatives aimed at stimulating small business hiring and growth. Again.
Small companies employ around half of America's workers and drive most of the country's job growth. Obama talks frequently in his speeches about the vital role small companies play, and his administration has launched several efforts to bolster struggling Main Street businesses. But most of the president's small business proposals remain in limbo, caught in bureaucratic logjams and the Great Black Hole of Congress.
A year ago, Obama set the stage during his first major economic speech to Congress. "I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can't pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can't get a mortgage," Obama said in February. "That's what this is about. It's not about helping banks; it's about helping people."
But small business owners across the nation say they feel left out of the stimulus and recovery action.
The Tea Party Express has issued a statement responding to President Obama's first State of the Union address. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
After the jump, read the full statement issued by the Tea Party Express in response to President Obama's State of the Union address:
TOPICS: Audience reaction to State of the Union
Full results (pdf)