But, now, it's going to take more than words to get him re-elected. It will take actions to prove that what he said tonight was not just words. Because even though he's been in office for two years, America still isn't sure who he is.
In a poll taken this month. 45% described him as a liberal. Nearly as many, 40% said "moderate" and 11% said "conservative" or "very conservative."
Who knows who's right?
But the mystery is about to end, and the President himself will end it.
The tipping point will be his calls tonight for a spending freeze, an end to earmarks, and a government that lives within its means. If he can walk that walk, then I believe he'll walk back into the White House for a second term.
Because the rap on the President has been that he spends too much and makes government too big. Unfortunately for Obama, there's the catch-22 of budget politics: Americans say "yes" to cuts, but "no" to reductions in their own benefits.
Even a speaker as skillful as the President will have a tough time talking his way around that.
It's going to take more audacity than hope.
I'm Andy Hiller, and that's my instinct.
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