| 12.5°C Belfast

Live: Obama State of the Union - jobs are top priority

Watch live streaming covergage of Barack Obama's State of the Union speech.

An embattled Barack Obama vowed in his first State of the Union address to make job growth his top priority, as he looked to reignite his stalling presidency.

Speaking to a before a politician-packed House of Representatives chamber and a TV audience of millions, Mr Obama urged politicians to come together around new stimulus spending and short-term economic relief.

He said he would still pursue ambitious longer-term changes to health care, energy, education and beyond.

"Change has not come fast enough," Mr Obama said "I do not accept second-place for the United States of America."

Free TV : Ustream

Mr Obama looked to use the high-profile speech to change America's conversation from how his presidency is troubled - over the messy health care debate, a limping economy and the missteps that led to Christmas Day's barely averted terrorist attack - to how he is seizing the reins on the economic worries foremost on Americans' minds.

The president devoted about two-thirds of his speech to the economy, emphasising his ideas for restoring job growth, taming budget deficits and changing a polarised Washington "where every day is Election Day".

These concerns are at the roots of voter emotions that drove supporters to Mr Obama but now are turning on him as he governs.

He looked to rescue the health care plan, his top domestic priority. The plan was on the verge of passage, then got derailed after opposition Republicans captured a crucial Senate seat last week. The United States lacks universal health care.

"Do not walk away from reform," he implored. "Not now. Not when we are so close."

Hoping to salve growing disappointment in a key constituency, Mr Obama said he would work with Congress "this year" to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

But in a concession to concern about the move among Republicans and in his own party's right flank, Mr Obama neither made a commitment to suspend the practice in the interim nor issued a firm deadline.

State of the Union: In numbers

837 words Length of shortest State of the Union, delivered by George Washington in 1790



27,465 words Length of longest State of the Union, composed by Harry Truman in 1946



12 Number of State of the Union speeches made by Franklin Roosevelt – still a record



1982 Year the practice of inviting people to be recognised in speech began, courtesy of Ronald Reagan

Belfast Telegraph