Biden's State of the Union speech changes some people's impressions at SF watch party

 Pizza, politics, and a pint of beer, brought people out to the State of the Union watch party at Manny's in San Francisco's Mission District Tuesday night. 

A hometown crowd of about one hundred people cheered as President Joe Biden recognized those from California, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Later on, there was more applause for her husband Paul Pelosi, one of the President's invited guests, as President Biden called for an end to political partisanship and violence that allegedly inspired Pelosi's attacker.

Other guests from California included Brandon Tsay, the man who disarmed the Lunar New Year shooter in Southern California. The executive director of ALAS Belinda Hernandez Arriaga, who helped the farmworkers and victims' families in the Half Moon Bay mass shooting was also a guest. Two scientists who worked on nuclear fusion Dr. Tammy Ma and Dr. Kim Budil with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory were also invited as guests of Rep. Eric Swalwell and Rep. Zoe Lofgren. 

The crowd responded with some of the biggest applause when President Biden talked about reducing prescription drug costs and some laughed when President Biden's call for both parties to protect Medicare and stand up for seniors, brought Congressional Republicans to their feet in support.

"I thought it was masterful, actually, how he was able to do that. He kind of put them on the spot. He wasn't afraid to call them out," said Peter Gallotta, a San Francisco Democrat who says he backed Bernie Sanders over Biden in 2020.

President Biden has faced criticism and indifference from some Republicans and Democrats who are worried about his age and mental acuity, particularly with 2024 elections around the corner.

For some people in the watch party crowd of mostly Democrats, Biden's State of the Union speech dispelled any concerns.

"I thought it was spicy...I can't recall feeling this engaged in the State of the Union," said Precious Green of Oakland, "He was vibrant, he was grounded, he was present, and he was with it."

Others said they were glad to hear Biden touching on issues that mattered to them. 

"It was great and what inspired me is when he spoke about gun control, banning assault rifles, abortion rights for the women," said Horace Thomas of San Francisco.

"I thought it was a great speech. I really liked the part about climate change was really important for me," said Isabel Markus of San Francisco.

For others, Biden's speech felt like a turning point, changing some Democrats' impressions and even one San Francisco Republican who said Biden impressed her.

"I'm a Republican and I want Donald Trump to be president, and I'm going to campaign for him in 2024… However, the speech tonight, he knocked me off my feet," said Patricia Cuadoa, a San Francisco Republican, "I thought it was insightful. I felt like Biden was on top of things. I think he's on top of the world, and he's for the American people."

Some Democrats said they were glad to see Biden calling on Republican allies to work with him, calling out Republican opponents, and bringing Democrats together.

"They showed shots of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and their policies have been enacted by this President, so he's been able to bring Democrats together around issues that we haven't always been in agreement on within the Democratic Party," said Peter Gallotta, a San Francisco Democrat who supported Bernie Sanders over Biden in 2020. 

For Isabel Markus, however, there is still hope that another Democrat will top the ticket in 2024.

"I hope there is a new person for 2024, but he's done a great job."