By MARK PENN
Published January 24, 2012

Tonight, President Obama has the kind of opportunity that former President Clinton had in 1996 — a chance to jumpstart his presidency, set the framework for his election and show that he has a dynamic agenda for America’s future in the 21st century.

The mess on the Republican side, along with improving economic numbers, has given him a singular opportunity to break through with the American people. The Republican presidential candidates have now proved as fractious and mean-spirited as the Republicans in Congress, widening the president’s opportunity.

So he has to give a speech that is long on job creation and short on rhetoric that could be interpreted as class warfare. In this speech, he has to bring America together and rise above politics and partisanship. It’s a time for tough words on Iran along with strong support for Israel. It’s a time to embrace optimism and the ability of America to succeed in the face of adversity. And it’s time to mend fences with the business community by bringing back offshore profits to jumpstart the economy. Above all, he has to give Americans renewed hope in his ability to restore the American Dream for this and the next generation.

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