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Inside the State of the Union

Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sport green ribbons at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, Feb. 12, in Washington. The ribbons commemorated the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Facts and figures from President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night:

Speech statistics
The president spoke for about an hour. The prepared text clocked in at 6,432 words, which might seem like a lot, but it's nowhere near President Harry Truman's record of more than 25,000 words in 1946. 

Obama used 1,737 different words. Here are some comparisons:

  • America(n)(s): 54; Afghanistan: 4; Africa: 2; Europe(ean): 2
  • our: 145; we: 122; I: 33; my: 12
  • job(s): 43; energy: 18; family(ies): 18; tax(es)/taxpayer(s): 17; education: 14; economy: 13 
  • deficit: 10; drone(s): 0

How many times was the president interrupted by applause?
79 by NBC News' unofficial count.


Who was missing? 
Tradition dictates that one Cabinet member skip the speech, to run the government in the event of a catastrophe. This year, that duty fell to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito also weren't in attendance. 

Guests of the First Lady 
Among those joining Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, in the gallery were:

  • Marine Sgt. Sheena Adams, recipient of the Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal after her deployment in Afghanistan September 2010 to April 2011
  • Alan Aleman of Las Vegas, an undocumented resident from Mexico and activist for the DREAM Act
  • Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple Inc.
  • Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr. of Chicago, parents of Hadiya Pendleton, who was slain last month after she performed at the president's inauguration.
  • Bobak Ferdowsi, flight director of the Mars Curiosity Rover (aka "Mohawk Guy").
  • Tracey Hepner, co-founder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition; and Kaitlin Roig, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Full list: A diverse guest list for State of the Union 


What were those green ribbons about?
Many lawmakers and others, including Tony Bennett, sported green ribbons in honor of the victims of the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

What was the deal with Joe Biden's glasses?
Aides said the vice president scratched his left eye with a contact lens, leaving it irritated and red.

What's next?
Obama travels Wednesday to Asheville, N.C., to deliver a speech pushing the manufacturing policies he spoke about Tuesday night.

Follow M. Alex Johnson on Twitter and Facebook.

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