WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Tuesday outlined his agenda to restore economic fairness in a State of the Union address that drew a mixed response from Arkansas lawmakers.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Tuesday outlined his agenda to restore economic fairness in a State of the Union address that drew a mixed response from Arkansas lawmakers.

While impressed with his rhetorical abilities, Arkansas Republicans were skeptical of any meaningful follow through on many of the initiatives they favor including tax reform and energy exploration.

“We’ll have to see if the reality matches the rhetoric,” said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.

Arkansas Democrats offered generally favorable views of Obama’s call for bipartisan cooperation and his focus on rebuilding the economy for the middle class.

“I was pleased with the speech,” said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. “He talked about getting us to work together and how much we can achieve if we do.”

Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, said the president did an “excellent job of laying out the need to strengthen the middle class.”

Boozman and Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, and Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, said they were skeptical that Obama would deliver on his proposal to expand American energy production given his recent rejection of the Keystone pipeline that would link Canada sand oil supplies with Gulf coast refineries.

“It is hard to take him seriously when he talks about putting people to work when just a week ago he killed Keystone. That would have brought thousands of jobs,” Griffin said.

“Keystone also had the added benefit of providing the United States with a new energy source that would make our country less dependent on Middle Eastern oil,” Crawford said. “Even with these tremendous benefits the President chose to reject the Keystone project.”

Womack also questioned Obama’s commitment to reducing the federal debt.

“I listened very carefully for his plan to address our huge deficit and debt. The first mention in his speech came 50 minutes into it,” Womack said.

Obama drew his largest applause early in his xx minute speech as he recognized the heroic efforts of the nation’s military. He drew bipartisan applause after noting that Osama bin Laden was no longer a threat.

As he offered up new proposals including investments in shale gas and new energy-efficient factories that Democrats were quick to applaud. Republicans mostly sat quietly through the speech.

Obama’s address before a joint session of Congress comes just 10 months before American voters will go to the polls to determine if he will serve a second four-year term.

His re-election campaign organized thousands of “State of the Union” watch parties that left no doubt that politics was the focus Tuesday night.

“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules,” Obama said.

Obama proposed new efforts to boost manufacturing, alternative energy and education. And, he renewed his call for a “Buffet Rule” to ensure equity in taxation by eliminating loopholes that allow billionaire Warren Buffet to pay a lower income tax rate than his secretary.

Buffet’s secretary Debbie Bosanek sat with first lady Michelle Obama in the House gallery to watch the speech.

Hours before Obama delivered the address Senate leaders offered their assessments as they opened their morning session.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his early read was that Obama had given up on governing.

“The goal isn’t to conquer the nation’s problems. It’s to conquer Republicans. The goal isn’t to prevent gridlock, but to guarantee it,” McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., blamed Republicans for the stalemate and urged them to give Obama’s “bipartisan vision the consideration it deserves.”

Lawmakers set aside their partisan sparring for at least one emotional moment as they welcomed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., back with a rousing standing ovation.

Injured last year in a shooting in Tucson, she announced on Sunday plans to resign from Congress. Gifford’s husband, Mark Kelly, also sat in the first lady’s gallery box.

The shooting prompted a bipartisan seating effort in Congress at last year’s address. Womack and Ross sat together then and again this year.

Ross said it was “an inspiring moment” to see such a warm bipartisan greeting for his friend Giffords. The two are members of the House Blue Dogs Caucus.

“Seeing her on the house floor you know brought tears to my eyes. Gabby and I are good friends,” he said. “She’s in my prayers.”

House Republicans spent much of Tuesday focused on the fact that it has been 1,000 days since the Senate last approved a budget resolution.

Griffin and Womack turned to social media to make the point.

Griffin pointed his Twitter followers to a press release blasting Senate Democrats for failing to complete a basic responsibility of governing. Womack tweeted to his followers that 1,000 days ago there was no Apple IPad and no budget from Senate Democrats.

The Senate rejected the House-approved budget resolution last July and offered no alternative. At the time, Reid, trashed the measure as “weak and senseless” and “anathema to what our country is all about.”