The speech 

  • A view of the of the White House early October 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney and US President Barack Obama barnstormed across toss-up states while seeking swing votes two weeks before election day. With their debates behind them, the candidates raced out of the blocks and onto the campaign trail, hoping to corral the most ballots from the shrinking pool of Americans still undecided in a race heading for a photo finish. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

    What six presidents think America is

    Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have all weighed in on their ideas of America.
  • Interesting facts

    • It was first officially called the "State of the Union" address in 1947 under President Harry Truman.
    • Since 1977, new Presidents have not called their first speech before a joint session of Congress a "State of the Union." They are often referred to as an "annual message" or a message/address on a particular topic.
    • The US Constitution requires the President to brief Congress on the "state of the union."
    • The President is escorted into the House chamber by members of both the House and Senate. The arrival of the President is announced by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives and then the speaker of the House introduces the President.
  • By the numbers

    • 1 hour, 28 minutes, 49 seconds: Bill Clinton held the longest State of the Union/annual message in 2000.
    • 10 minutes: George Washington's 1790 speech was 833 words and is believed to have lasted less than 10 minutes.
    • 2: Number of Presidents who never delivered their speech (both died before a year in office).
    • 12: Franklin Roosevelt's record for most State of the Union/annual message addresses.
    • 1: Barack Obama is the only African American in history to have addressed a joint session or joint meeting of Congress.
  • First time the speech was:

    • Nationally broadcast on radio: President Calvin Coolidge on December 6, 1923.
    • Televised: President Harry Truman on January 6, 1947.
    • Aired during prime-time: Lyndon B. Johnson on January 4, 1965.
    • Streamed live online: George W. Bush in 2002.
    • Postponed: Ronald Reagan on January 28, 1986, after the space shuttle Challenger disaster, moved the speech to February 4.

The Latest