WASHINGTON -- In a nod to being nice, the three U.S. House members from Nevada sat together for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
That didn't mean they all liked the speech.
Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is running for U.S. Senate on Obama's ticket, rose regularly during the hourlong address to offer standing ovations as the president spoke of restoring "fair play" to the nation's economy and outlined goals on taxes, job creation, immigration and housing.
"What we heard tonight is the desperate need for our nation to focus on the top priority for Nevada families: job creation," Berkley said in a statement.
But seat mates Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, both Republicans, were less impressed, remaining seated and subdued as their Democratic colleague reacted with enthusiasm.
The speech "was a lot of retread from what we heard last time," said Heck, adding that in an election year, Obama's audience was as much voters watching at home as lawmakers in the U.S. House chamber.
"Certainly this is a campaign speech," Heck said. "The same things we have heard before, just repackaged."
Amodei said he wanted to hear more about proposals Obama hinted at to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. But he said Obama did not place as much emphasis as he should have on the nation's debt and budget deficits.
As they did for last year's speech, many lawmakers made a point to sit with someone from the opposing party, in a nod to bipartisanship.
As Senate majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid was in the greeting party for Obama's entrance to the chamber and sat with other Democratic leaders in assigned seats.
During the speech, Reid was the first one to rise and applaud when Obama declared he was strongly committed to pursuing the development of renewable energy sources.
"President Obama offered common-sense solutions that will create jobs and put our country on a path to economic fairness," Reid said in a statement after the speech. "The policies proposed by the President will narrow the inequality gap in our country while making America a leader in clean energy technology, and continue the revival of our manufacturing sector."
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., took notes in a small olive notebook but showed little reaction during the address. He and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., arranged an empty seat between them as a gesture to Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who is recovering in Chicago from a stroke he had last weekend.
"Today our nation has no road map to bolster economic growth or to rein in our nation's massive debt that will impact generations to come," Heller said in a statement. "It is past time for a genuine effort to work in a bipartisan manner to fix our economy."
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.