In clear campaign style, President Barack Obama gave a broad-ranging State of the Union address Tuesday night, primarily focusing on the economy and job creation, but also tackling issues like education and immigration reform.
Obama started his speech with a list of accomplishments, earning a standing ovation over the mission that led to Osama bin Laden's death. He then urged lawmakers to take note of the military's comradery and use it as an example of the teamwork needed in Washington.
Watch CBN News Reporter John Jessup's report. Also, watch the entire State of the Union below.
"These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America's Armed Forces. They're not consumed with personal ambition," Obama said. "They don't obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together."
"Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example," he added.
That tone of working together and continuing to believe in America remained throughout the night. Obama sent a message of a nation that's continuing to rise from the ashes of recession.
"America is back," he said. "Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn't know what they're talking about."
Hinting to his efforts to end tax cuts for the wealthy, the president continued to rally for "fairness" for the middle class. He argued that anyone making more than $1 million should pay a minimum tax rate of at least 30 percent -- the so-called "Buffett rule" named after billionaire Warren Buffett.
"We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or 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 said.
The president later touted improvements made to the auto industry, noting that since he took office, "the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs."
He painted a picture of an America that makes its own money rather than outsourcing jobs, and uses manufacturing and renewable energy projects as ways to keep the economy on track.
The president proposed using money saved by drawing down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to invest in U.S. infrastructure. He wants the money to go toward fixing roads and building new high-speed rail projects.
"In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects," Obama said. "There's never been a better time to build, especially since the construction industry was one of the hardest-hit when the housing bubble burst."
Obama remained positive and upbeat throughout the State of the Union, rarely mentioning unemployment and foreclosures, and instead focusing on what he feels can be done if party bickering ends.
In probably the most touching moment of the night, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords entered the chamber to take her seat in the House of Representatives one last time. One year after being shot in the head, Giffords recently announced she would be resigning to focus on her recovery.
With her colleagues chanting "Gabby! Gabby!" she smiled and waved, accepting a bear hug from Obama before he took the podium.
Republican opponents saw much of the address as an extended campaign speech. Watch the entire GOP response here.
"On these evenings, presidents naturally seek to find the sunny side of our national condition," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels charged in the GOP response. "But when President Obama claims that the state of our union is anything but grave, he must know in his heart that this is not true."
"In three short years, an unprecedented explosion of spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffordable national debt. And yet, the president has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead," he later added.
Daniels called this election year a "true opportunity" to restore America and criticized the Obama administration for "sad" attempts to divide the nation and pit rich against poor.
"Republicans will speak for those who believe in the dignity and capacity of the individual citizen; who believe that government is meant to serve the people rather than supervise them; who trust Americans enough to tell them the plain truth about the fix we are in," Daniels said.
"And to lay before them a specific, credible program of change big enough to meet the emergency we are facing," he continued.
Daniels also used the GOP response to shut down Obama's tax proposals.
"There are smart ways and dumb ways to do this: The dumb way is to raise rates in a broken, grossly complex tax system, choking off growth without bringing in the revenues we need to meet our debts," he said.
"The better course is to stop sending the wealthy benefits they do not need, and stop providing them so many tax preferences that distort our economy and do little or nothing to foster growth," Daniels added.
Giving a State of the Union address in election season can be tricky since what's said can gain or lose a potential voter. President Obama plans to build on the momentum of Tuesday's speech by heading to Iowa Wednesday for three days of campaigning in five key states.
Watch the entire State of the Union: