GOP pans Obama's SOTU call for unity

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell waits for the start of the State of the Union address by President Barack Obama Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama called on America to "turn the page" on the difficulties of the past decade and a half during Tuesday night's State of the Union.

But many congressional Republicans said with the speech, the President closed the book on them entirely.
House Speaker John Boehner echoed many of his Republican colleagues with a statement that decried the address as more of the same from a President that's never been interested in working with the opposing party.
"The State of the Union is a chance to start anew, but all the President offered tonight is more taxes, more government and more of the same approach that has failed middle-class families," he said in a statement. "These aren't just the wrong policies, they're the wrong priorities: growing Washington's bureaucracy instead of America's economy."
    The address did lay out a laundry list of progressive priorities — tax credits for middle class families, paid for by raising taxes on wealthy Americans; hikes in the minimum wage and protections for gay Americans; free community college — most of which had been previewed over the past week and pre-emptively panned by Republicans.
    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, accused Obama of waging "class warfare" with the policies in Tuesday morning remarks.
    But Obama capped the speech off with a call for unity, and for Washington to transcend partisan politics, that was reminiscent of his campaign stump speeches in the early months of the 2008 race.
    Republicans, however, said they weren't fooled.
    McConnell headed straight for the exits after Obama stepped down from the podium and in a release knocked Obama for giving a "speech that made it look like he's going to run for office again."
    Texas Sen. John Cornyn said while Obama called for unity, "his actions contradict what he said."
    "I thought [the tone] was better suited for his first State of the Union not his seventh," Cornyn said in the hallways of the Capitol. "I mean, he's got six years of a track record he has to reconcile with the rhetoric. You have to suspend your disbelief based on the facts to believe everything he said."
    Indeed, the White House issued two veto threats to Republican bills before his speech Tuesday night, and during the speech the President took multiple potshots at Republicans.
    Even some Democrats acknowledged Obama may have gone too far. Sen. Joe Manchin, a blue-dog Democrat from West Virginia who often breaks with the President, told CNN he felt Obama could've been more "conciliatory."
    "At first he started [reaching out to Republicans], but then he hit them pretty hard. It got pretty partisan about 60% of the way through," Manchin said. "I thought, 'Oooh, he could have kept from saying that.' I just think we need [to be] more conciliatory."
    But it was that liberated charisma, and the stark contrast with the GOP that the President drew, that had congressional Democrats enthused and buoyant. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid lauded Obama for offering a "clear contrast" with Republicans going forward.
    "President Obama laid out a clear vision for strengthening America's middle class that draws a clear contrast with the Republican Congress' partisan political agenda of special interest giveaways and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans," he said.
    Some Republicans did, however, express hopes for cooperation, particularly on his push for a new trade deal. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said while on Obama's tax proposals "we're going to have disagreements," there is opportunity on trade.
    "There's a real area where we're going to have agreement to increase trade promotion authority, and that's something that can help our economy grow," he told CNN.
    But that's one area where Obama's likely to face rare opposition from his own party. Liberal Democrats in the House are opposed to a deal they believe will just drive jobs overseas.
    Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., said she thought the speech was "great, except for the trade part -- I just can't buy that."
    Slaughter dismissed the push for a new trade deal and the argument it will boost the middle class, telling CNN, "there's not a thing they can tell me" that would convince her to support new legislation on trade promotion authority. 
    It was clear from Obama's speech, however, that he won't shy away from moving unilaterally if needed, where he can — regardless of the response from the right or left.
    Still, it's an approach that has Republicans decrying the Obama they say they've always known, unwilling to work with them to even broker compromises where they might find agreement.
    "He is so detached and uninvolved in the legislative process he just speaks as if he's on Mt. Olympus saying, 'if you send this to me I will veto it,'" Cornyn lamented. 
    "It's not the recipe for getting anything done."