In his first address to a divided Congress, President Obama implored both parties to work together to confront the nation's challenges and outlined a broad strategy for keeping America competitive and stimulating economic growth.
The president spoke in front of an emboldened Republican Party and new House Republican majority that is deeply skeptical of his proposals for ways to boost the economy, create jobs and cut spending.
With that new reality on Capitol Hill, Obama emphasized bipartisanship and ways he and his fellow Democrats could work with Republicans, including a ban on earmarks and a spending freeze on parts of the budget that he said would save approximately $400 billion over five years.
"New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans," the president said. "We will move forward together, or not at all -- for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics."
The president began on a sober note, referring to the absence of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is in a Houston hospital, recovering from gunshot wounds suffered in the shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this month. Arizona's congressional delegation honored their colleague by leaving a seat vacant for her
Obama said that while there have been contentious debates between the two parties over the last two years, it is "what a robust democracy demands."
It is because of that, he said, that the tragic shootings in Tucson "gave us pause."
"Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater -- something more consequential than party or political preference," he said. "We are part of the American family.
"We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled," he said in a reference to Christina Taylor Green, who was killed in Tucson two weeks ago.
Green's parents and younger brother were in the House Chamber, seated next to first lady Michelle Obama.
There was much made before the speech about the seating arrangements -- Democrats pairing off with Republicans in a gesture of bipartisanship and cooperation in the wake of the Tucson shooting.
Obama said the true test of bipartisanship is not where lawmakers sit, "but whether we can work together tomorrow."
Obama said that in last November's midterms, which he called a "shellacking" for his party the morning after, "the American people determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties."
Obama called on Democrats and Republicans to move on from campaigning, and instead focus on a bipartisan approach to creating new jobs and a robust economy.
"At stake right now is not who wins the next election -- after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded," he said. "It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world."
The president struck an optimistic tone on the economy.