WASHINGTON, DC (WWBT) - The president offered an opportunity for compromise, but warned that he wasn't going to give in. He touched on populists themes of a fair playing field and the return of manufacturing jobs. But the big take away had to be his renewed call for the rich to pay more in taxes.
President Barack Obama had a lot on the line tonight. His goal? Reach out to the American people in way that could re-ignite an enthusiasm with his supporters that will keep this State of the Union from being his last.
"The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we've come too far to turn back now," President Obama said.
The president built the case that he is making progress, and outlined plans to move things forward even quicker.
He proposed new incentives for keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and balancing the tax code to encourage job creation. The president said given the opportunity American workers will rise to the challenge.
"Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you - America will always win," he said.
But the lasting moment will come from his challenge to Congress to even the playing field when it comes to tax rates...ensuring that the richest Americans will always pay at a rate higher that the middle class.
Republicans have already rejected numerous attempts to raise taxes on the wealthy, and they argue it attacks people who invest and create jobs. The president doesn't buy it.
"We can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules," Obama added.
A concept that could have a tough time passing, but may sound very good on the campaign trail.
The republicans chose Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to deliver their rebuttal. A man many wish had challenged Obama for the presidency. He called the president's policies "a grand experiment of trickle down government". He said the president must get control of the countries debt.
But before all the politics was perhaps the most touching part of the night. The president met Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the end of his walk to the podium and swallowed her in a huge bear hug.
Of course Giffords survived a horrific shooting a little more than a year ago. She will resign her seat in Congress tomorrow.