Ky. Governor, GM Exec Among Added Speech Guests

Ky. Governor, GM Exec Among Added Speech Guests
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The White House has announced several more guests who will attend tonight’s State of the Union address, courtesy of first lady Michelle Obama. Among them are Kentucky’s Democratic governor, female leaders in commerce and government, and an undocumented immigrant, all part of a wide range of politically and culturally significant figures who support or symbolize the president’s political agenda.

The new invitees include Gov. Steve Beshear (pictured), a popular Democrat in a red state, who oversaw Kentucky’s opening of a health care exchange website and an expansion of Medicaid. He has received praise from politicians who support the Affordable Care Act, and his inclusion in the special section of the House gallery is not surprising.

Also invited was Cristian Avila of Phoenix. The 23-year-old undocumented immigrant fasted for 22 days last year in a plea for immigration reform. He was visited by the president and other top administration officials during his protest.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra, the first female chief executive of a major car company, also has been invited. Barra will also be joined by another pioneering woman, Vice Admiral Michelle Howard, the first female four-star admiral in U.S. Navy history (and the first African-American female to achieve four-star rank in any branch of the military).

Also attending will be Puerto Rico’s representative at the 2013 Kid’s State Dinner, Aliana Arzola-Piñero, who garnered attention for her recipe in Mrs. Obama’s “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.” The first lady has made healthy eating a centerpiece of her agenda.

Additionally, environmental activist Tyrone Davis and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee will be seated in the first lady’s box. Several others will also attend, including: an American saddled with major student loan debt, a manufacturing entrepreneur from Detroit, a physician’s assistant who benefited from the president’s health care law, and a bookkeeper who prevented a school shooting last year.

These guests will be joined by another group of attendees announced yesterday, which includes Boston Marathon bombing survivors and openly gay former NBA player Jason Collins. Also seated with the first lady will be Dr. Jill Biden and presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.

However, that’s not all. A White House press release promises that more guests will be announced ahead of the speech, scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time. 

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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