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.
Read the president's speech | Key points of his speech
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."
Obama gave same promise in last three years, change never happen, I see nothing!
NO HE DIDN'T.. pull yer Faux Snews sunglasses off, you look like a idiot!
59 years old and a commercial construction company owner and used to be republican. My industry crashed with the banks a few months into 2009 and has not come back as with housing. The lack of recovery has nothing to do with Obama over-regulating drinking water, the EPA or strip mines or because he hates America. The birther crap and its equivalent does not ring true. I don't like scare tactics, which is what the GOP has to offer. The old line republicans have become dedicated to insurance and banks and the big money special interests. The tea-party is nuts. I feel sold out and proud to have switched to support Obama now and every Democratic congressmen and senator up for re-election.
I like President Obama, I agree 100 % Mom
It is plain and simple, let private industry create jobs. They will if they had any confidence in the administration that they would help rather than hinder. Look at the regulations the administration has imposed. Private industry is scared to create jobs because they don't know what he will do next. Government will spend money but when it is gone what it created, if anything, will go away. The private sector will create them and they will continue since they want to grow. This is what the Republicans have been saying, listen please.
stupid is as stupid does, Forrest has you in the brains department!
Under Bush, republican: 641 new regulations. Under Obama, less regulations than Bush. This is not from my mouth. It is from FACTCHECKING. Be knowledgeable. Don't just listen to either Republican or Democrat. Do some research guys. The TRUTH: Obama inherited a nearly, totally colapsed economy from the miscalculation of Bush who started 2 wars. Get everything back home. Take care of us here first, then help later when we get back to normal.
Bush is gone. He is not coming back. Obama is now responsible. Romney 2012!
He's a cheerleader, nothing more nothing less
You writers are obviously slight biased. He has tried to compromise, but the Republican congress is bound and determined to block him at every turn. Get real people moderation is imperative, the Republicans have none. I resent the religious right trying to run the live of the majority of Americans, all the while acting like they are being reasonable. Look at the fiasco over raising the debt limit, now we have a mess. The Republicans are only concerned about lining their pockets. I am not a democrat and have in the past voted for many Republican politicians, I never will again they do not have the welfare of the majority of us at heart. And Newt hope you win the nom, you are a slimy pig and can usher in the end of the party. I remember why you had to leave congress.
Really, can't we just all get along! We have enough negative already. Look where we were and look where we are at now, it's Not perfect but it is better and if we all try to work together maybe we can accomplish even greater/better things. :)
In his speech he was trying to convince us that he wants to bring manufacturing back to America – when will someone in the Media (mainstream or cable) stand us and as him why he just awarded a defense contract to BUILD new planes to Brazil – Hello these are MANUFACTURING JOBS as well as OUR TAX DOLLARS going to BRAZIL! I don't believe a word he says He says one thing but he does another.
Let's tax the rich and give the money to the government. Taking more money out of the private sector and giving it to the governmental waste machine is the perfect way to jump start the economy and create private sector jobs.
How predictable is it that some moron from CNN asks if his speech worked as a campaign speech? Here a hint moron.. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS.
He is a JOKE!!!!
No I did not and I pray to God that he is not re-elected.
Absolutely NOT.....he cannot run on his record...so he blames everyone else for problems and attempts to take credit for all successes! Like he had something to do with our booming energy sector?...he's done everything to slow it down.....or his giving millions to green energy companies run by his contributors, and not just Solyndra!
Time for real change -- send this failure back to Chicago and vote in a leader to return the country to greatness..
Where are the jobs. Where is the savings? What will gas prices be this summer? These will be deciding factors for a lot of people not me. 2 years ago I had to settle for a job that pays what I made in like 1998. That did it for me. I will never ever vote for a democrat who likes the idea of rich people getting behind rather than poor people getting ahead!
Anyone who blames Obama for not restoring the economy to boom times a mere 3 years after inheriting the smoking wreckage Bush left behind simply doesn't understand how bad things were in 2008. Housing imploded. Economy crashed. Unemployment soaring. Financial system meltdown. All in 2008, before Obama was even elected. We were literally 72 hours from a complete global economic collapse – that means no food in the grocery stores, no fuel, no heat, no a/c, no transporation, no nothing. His policies stopped the hemorrhaging and prevented a depression worse than the 30's Yes, it's slow climbing out of the hole, but think how deep the hole was! Unprecedented in history. Damn straight he's got my vote. I sure as h3ll don't want to go back to the Repub policies that crashed our economy in the first place. If the voters send us back there, then they deserve the carnage that will follow.
Obama said the sky was falling and suckers like you bought into it.
It's not about what economy he was given. It's about the fact that Obama decided to triple the debt we already have. There has not been a budget in place this president took office. Instead of reining in costs he chooses to just tax more. He takes absolutely no fiscal responsiblity, he wants his blank check to spend more. I'm broke & I have no more to give
Empire : I agree democrats seem to thrive when there is chaos and over-spending in government. Never let a good crisis go to waste can have 2 meanings if you catch my drift.
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