The secretary for one of the world's wealthiest men and the wife of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs were among those invited by the White House to attend President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
The State of the Union guest list has become an annual rite, with the first lady's box taking on the sort of gravitas shown at the Academy Awards' red carpet ceremony. The guests often have ties to a proposal or initiative the president will outline in the address.
Among this year's most provocative guests was Debbie Bosanek, the longtime secretary for billionaire Warren Buffett. Mr. Obama has frequently cited Mr. Buffett's complaint that the nation's tax code is unfair because he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, and did so again Tuesday.
Laurene Powell Jobs, the wife of the late Apple co-founder, also attended Mr. Obama's prime-time address along with Richard Cordray, the new consumer watchdog whom Mr. Obama installed using a controversial recess appointment, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has fought bank misconduct in the mortgage market.
Adam Rapp, a cancer survivor from Fall Creek Township, Ill., also joined Mrs. Obama in the first lady's box Tuesday night above the House chamber floor. The White House said Mr. Rapp has benefited from Mr. Obama's health care overhaul law.
Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of outgoing Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat, sat at Mrs. Obama's side during the speech. Ms. Giffords, who is resigning from Congress to focus on her recovery after being shot at a political event a year ago, received a thunderous ovation when she appeared on the House floor just minutes before the president arrived to give his address.
The Navy SEAL who commanded the risky, top-secret raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last year was another guest. Adm. William McRaven now heads the military's Special Operations Command.
Other guests included:
• Sgt. Ashleigh Berg, Malibu, Calif., a veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq
• Alicia Boler-Davis, Detroit, a plant manager at General Motors Orion Assembly
• Jackie Bray, King's Mountain, N.C., a process operator at Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub
• Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio
• Bruce Cochrane, Lincolnton, N.C., president and CEO of Lincolnton Furniture
• Sara Ferguson, Parkside, Pa., a literacy and math teacher at Columbus Elementary
• Hiroyuki Fujita, Cleveland, founder, president and CEO of Quality Electrodynamics
• Mahala Greer, Denver, a student at University of Colorado Denver
• Adrienne Howard, San Diego, a military spouse
• Mike Krieger, San Francisco, co-founder of Instagram
• Lorelei Kilker, Brighton, Colo., an analytical chemist
• Joan Milligan, Orlando, Fla., refinanced her home through Mr. Obama's Home Affordable Refinance Program
• Amber Morris, Virginia Beach, responded to White House Twitter question during last year's payroll-tax debate
• Juan Jose Redin, North Hollywood, Calif., an attorney
• Bryan Ritterby, Holland, Mich., a lab technician
• Col. Ginger Wallace, McLean, an Air Force intelligence officer