With his re-election at stake, President Obama in his State of the Union address late Tuesday said "no challenge is more urgent" than keeping the American dream alive.
He laid out his plan for reinvigorating the economy by¬†again calling for the wealthy to pay more in taxes. He¬†called for lowering corporate taxes and providing incentives for U.S. manufacturers to bring overseas jobs back to America, while ending tax breaks for businesses that continue to outsource. Obama also ordered his administration to open up 75% of potential offshore oil and gas resources.¬†He also challenged Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform, and he called for legislation like the DREAM Act that offers children of illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military a path to possible citizenship.
Whether he can get a divided Congress to act on the issues he set forth Tuesday night will be a big¬†question during his re-election campaign. As CNN contributor¬†Julian Zelizer asks:¬†Is the Obama presidency "built to last"?¬†But perhaps the bigger issue is: Can¬†Obama get the support of a frustrated nation behind him to give him another term?
Zennie Abraham told CNN iReport that he¬†was impressed by Obama's State of the Union address, which he saw as a wholehearted and necessary embrace of a pro-U.S. trade policy.
"The President now realizes that nationalism is the one approach that will save America, whereas when he first took office, our allies, like France and Germany, were trying to talk him into maintaining the 'free trade is good' policy that has harmed America,"¬†Abraham said. "In doing so, Obama also hones his case for good old-fashioned Liberalism."
Abraham, from Oakland, California, said he felt Obama delivered "an excellent speech," one that was right for our struggling country, and took the steps to¬†begin¬†showing just how he will turn it around.
"He outlined the role of government in our lives as it is needed in our lives now to improve America and restore our standard of living," he said.
But Vernon Hill, a conservative-leaning voter, was generally disappointed with¬†the State of the Union speech, and doesn't think that¬†Obama has¬†achieved enough to deserve another term as president.
Hill felt there were many more issues that Obama needed to address that had been hampering his ability to get anything done.
"Obama has been his own worst enemy by surrounding himself with people who will not disagree with him and whom¬†have no business backgrounds," he argued.
Hill, who is from¬†Morehead City, North Carolina, said he felt the president is a "master storyteller," but needed to talk more actual substance about bypassing Congress, the Keystone XL pipeline project, the deficit, and the current cost of gas. So, for him,¬†Obama's speech was just another example of "more promises and hope." ¬†And Hill said Obama hasn't shown that he can go past rhetoric and deliver results.
"If he can't succeed in three years, four more years would be more failure on his part," he said. "Obama has been his own worst enemy."
Egberto Willies told CNN iReport that Obama needed to go harder and more forcefully moving forward.
"I hope Obama does take a more aggressive approach. People like his calm approach. They know his accomplishments but they are still in dire¬†straits," he said. "He must point specifically to the root of our current demise, and forcefully state that being given a second term with a Congress willing to work for the American people, as opposed to an ideology, is essential."
Willies, from¬†Kingwood, Texas, said he did however think Obama took the first steps toward that goal by delivering an appropriately articulated speech that presented how he will move his vision forward. Willies said he believes the speech will help get the president re-elected.
"It is likely the best State of the Union address that he has ever given," Willies said.
Willies said he thought Obama was able to tout his specific accomplishments, while refuting what he saw as fallacies being floated by the Republicans about his policies. And he told the American people¬†that regardless of the gridlock, he would find a way to help them, Willies said.
"He also most importantly said where he has the power to act, he will, and if Congress comes along it would be better," he said.
Willies, who attended a watch party, interviewed several guests about what they thought about Obama's speech. Several of the people there said they thought it was an "excellent speech," one that touched on all of the issues he needs to be talking about. And many of those people said they were pleasantly surprised that Obama delivered even more than they had expected in his fight for a strong middle class.
But not everyone praised Obama's ideas or believes he can pull off the feat of bringing the government together to¬†create change.
A commenter with the username xtallake said that Obama's ideas are just not the right ones for this country.
"He is too far liberal and the cause of the completely divided Congress. And he doesn't even know it," xtallake wrote. "He needs to unite and compromise...but he doesn't. He will not be re-elected again....unless he actually tries to work with the other side. We need a uniter."
Longtime iReporter and¬†political¬†junkie Omekongo Dibinga is optimistic about Obama's presidency after watching Tuesday night's address, but believes Obama has a way to go before his rhetoric and accomplishments come into alignment.
"Presidents are generally more aggressive with their agenda on their second time around," Dibinga said. "The main thing I want to see are long-lasting improvements in education."
For him, it is time for Obama's rhetoric to really bear some fruit. And while he feels that Obama delivered some strong ideas that set him apart from the Republican candidates' offerings, the proof of whether Obama is the right one to lead will be in the results, he said.
"'I am indeed optimistic but I just haven't seen some of the things he was talking about bear¬†themselves out over the past three years," he said.
Mark Ivy agreed that Obama presented some solid ideas during his speech that delivered plenty of red meat to his base, but said that¬†Obama needs to address the national debt and deficit spending in order to attract swing voters and win re-election.
"'We are all in this together. We must all be willing to give a little," he said. "The number one way to attack the debt and attract Independents and Republicans is a real plan of attack on the tax breaks, the tax deductions that cause the disparity in the effective tax rates. This must (be) done across the board."
Ivy, who is from Farmersburg, Indiana, said he believed closing the "loopholes" would have a real impact, and it is a move he believes both Republicans and independents can support.
The speech, Ivy said, was a "populist and mostly moderate course of action for the next 10 months." But Ivy said he wished the president had discussed even more specifics rather than general themes.
Overall, Ivy thought Obama gave an "excellent stump speech."
"But he offered nothing¬† that would inspire or win over Republicans or independents," Ivy said. "While I give the President kudos for his closing and¬† mentioning Seal Team 6 and the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden, there was very little new and nothing to breathe life into our sagging¬†economy¬†or to stymie the ruptured artery of debt siphoning the life from the nation."
But not all of those who generally oppose Obama thought he did all that badly in laying out his vision for the country.
"Forgive me. I am a Republican and a Conservative. But I just cannot deny that Obama is EXACTLY what the country needs right now," user SteedLaw commented. "What I just heard is what every American has been waiting to hear. Can he achieve it? Well, it sounds like Congress just needs to get those bills put together. Otherwise, I think it is safe to say it is curtains for the GOP this round.
"Obama may not be many things, but there is no doubt he is a true leader. Until I hear anything of that magnitude come from the mouth of a republican candidate (which I doubt), Obama can count on my vote."
That's a sentiment other readers echoed, wondering if what Obama did last night shines a spotlight on the GOP and what it is offering - or not offering.
"Obama is not the perfect choice, but the best one for 2012," a user named imdudesdad commented. "The Republicans offer nobody who can do better. With them, it's more Bush policies and maybe worse - attacking Iran for another expensive government spending program. Obama isn't perfect, but is by far the best."
Adriana Maxwell said she thinks that Obama's State of the Union address was great oration, but she's skeptical about how much of his agenda will actually be put into action unless he attempts to compromise with the GOP-controlled house.
After talking about several of the plans that Obama mentioned¬†Tuesday night, Maxwell said she suspects that Republicans will argue his plans will only increase the size of the government and not actually save money for consumers.
"Occasionally Speaker Boehner and other Republican leadership will comment that they haven't spoken to the President about the legislation," she said. "It gives the appearance the that the White House is not cooperating on domestic issues."
And that could be a big issue, based on all of the plans Obama laid out Tuesday night. If he can't get support, he'll be forced to try to go at it alone, and that's something Maxwell said she thinks isn't exactly the best idea. She said there needs to be a real effort¬†by the president to lead a collaborative effort to turn the nation around from what she calls a "state of disunion."
One commenter, Mike500, said the speech only solidified his opinion that Obama was the worst leader since President Jimmy Carter.
"More class warfare. More big government. More spending other people's money," he wrote. "Truly sad."
Independent voter Melissa Fazli was motivated by the State of the Union address to support Obama's re-election campaign. She says she strongly supports Obama's call to investigate and bring prosecution against the lending practices that led to the housing crisis.
As a former real estate agent, she said she saw mortgages that never should have being given. So when Obama announced his special task force, it hit Fazli hard.
"I was literally brought to tears," she said.
She added she hoped that Attorney General Eric Holder would take Obama's message to heart and work to bring real justice to those "that were bamboozled by these big banks."
"I would like to see it enforced by everyone using social media everyday to keep it on Obama's table until indictments are made," she said. "I would love to see some of these banks go directly to jail and not collect even $200 along the way."
Obama's statement didn't just make her get teary-eyed. It also convinced her to make a drastic change, proving that perhaps for some, Obama did do enough to restore their faith in him.
"I have something to confess," she said. "As a 22-year registered voter of the American Independent¬†Party I am switching over to the Democratic Party. I believe in a democratic society, for the people and by the people and¬†President¬†Barack Obama has convinced me to switch from an Independent to a Democrat."
While she voted for Obama in 2008, she felt that Tuesday's speech cemented her belief in his views.
"I realize after listening to all the GOP candidates and listening to Obama's State of the Union address that I am really a Democrat, so much so, that I printed out my voter registration form and already switched to the Democratic Party."