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Less than four hours before he headed to Capitol Hill on Tuesday night, the Obama campaign sent out a fundraising email to supporters with a note from the president stressing that the address will set the tone for the election year ahead.

Brookings Institution senior fellow Bill Galston said the speech sets up an election-year full of stark contrasts.

“Throughout his speech, Obama invoked the principles of fairness, collective action, and common purpose,” said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Conspicuously absent was the theme on which the Republican Party rests its case — namely, individual liberty — a contrast that prefigures a 2012 general election waged over clashing partisan orientations as well as competing accounts of the president’s record.”

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, who chairs the Senate’s campaign arm, said the speech highlighted the “massive disconnect” between the president’s priorities and the nation’s most pressing challenges.

“Americans must decide whether we want to return to our roots as a beacon of entrepreneurial energy, or continue down a path towards a European-style social democracy. I’m confident that Texans will choose the first option, and that’s what I will continue to fight for here in Washington,” he said.

The speech earned high marks from the president’s base of support. AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka praised the president for laying out a vision for “an America that can create jobs and prosperity for all instead of wealth for a few.”

“Tonight he made clear that the era of the 1 percent getting rich by looting the economy, rather than creating jobs, is over — what a contrast to the vision presented by presidential candidates squabbling over how much further to cut the taxes of the 1 percent,” Mr. Trumka said in a statement.