He alluded to the bipartisan agreement that has emerged since the election on immigration and called for "real reform," which he said includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a penalty, learning English, and "going to the back of the line" behind applicants already waiting before receiving citizenship. He said he would sign a comprehensive reform bill right away.
On the minimum wage
Obama called for a $9 hourly minimum wage. "It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank," he said. One state, Washington, currently mandates a minimum wage over that rate.
On Afghanistan and al-Qaida
In an announcement that was leaked earlier in the day, Obama said 34,000 U.S. troops—about half the current fighting force—will be withdrawn from Afghanistan over the next year. He said the U.S. is negotiating an accord with Kabul that will have two missions: training their forces so the country does not "slip into chaos" and pursuing counterterrorism efforts there. He also rejected the philosophy that led to counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan. Speaking of what he cast as a weakened al-Qaida, Obama said, "We don't need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad or occupy nations. Instead we will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya, and Somalia."
On North Korea
Acknowledging North Korea’s nuclear-weapons test on Monday, Obama said the country "must know" that it can only achieve security if it meets its "international obligations."
Only one sentence in the speech was devoted to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. He said the U.S. would do what is "necessary" to prevent the country from getting a nuclear weapon. He called for Tehran to recognize that there must be a "diplomatic solution" to the standoff between Iran and the West.
He pointed out that he signed an executive order that he said would strengthen U.S. cyber defenses. He asked Congress to pass legislation that would give the government "greater capacity to secure our networks."
On the Middle East
Obama said the U.S. would keep pressure on the Syrian regime and said America would "stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace."
On the military
Nodding to outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's order allowing women to serve in combat zones, Obama said, "We will draw upon the courage and skills of our sisters and daughters." He called for ensuring equal benefits for gay and straight service members and nodded to veterans and "wounded warriors."
This was by far the speech's most emotional section. Obama called for a vote on each of the gun-control proposals put forward. With Vice President Joe Biden sitting behind him wearing a green ribbon for Newtown, Obama said "a thousands birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun."