"From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream," President Obama said in Tuesday night's State of the Union Address. "That's how we win the future."
That declaration came from the same man whose dream led him to a historic presidential victory only two years ago.
But just two months ago, his chances of retaining that position seemed precarious; his party had just lost control of Congress in a blistering midterm election, many of his own supporters were visibly agitated with his lack of progress on important issues, and his poll numbers were at all-time lows.
But on Tuesday night, the President was in high spirits; he stood before a mixed crowd of Democrats and Republicans, buoyed by greatly improved approval ratings and a new sense of purpose.
The Obama our nation heard Tuesday night wasn't the same Obama we have become accustomed to over the past two years. Instead, we witnessed the return of candidate Obama, the man who made the nation believe that change was possible.
In his speech, he channeled the two most celebrated of the modern presidents, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, by calling the United States "a light to the world."
By doing so, he joined other American leaders who embraced the idea of "American exceptionalism," a term that refers to the idea that America holds a unique, special place in the world.
In the past, Obama seemed reluctant to uphold that notion, which raised questions about his patriotism among conservatives and some independents.
His high opinion of America was accompanied by a lofty vision for her future that included clean energy, education reform, and investment in new programs and technologies.
"We do big things," he said.
That's true. But we also run up big debts. On that point, the president was less than clear, and perhaps a little contradictory. While one part of his speech focused on investing money into the nation's future, another part lamented over the nation's mounting debt and promised hefty budget cuts and a spending freeze. Those two conflicting goals left many scratching their heads.
But one thing was clear—Obama is ready to make the case for his re-election. His outreach to Republicans left even the new Republican Speaker of House, John Boehner, visibly choked up.
His optimistic vision for America reminded independent voters of the man who gave them hope and made them say, "Yes, we can."
He even reassured his Democratic base by reminding them that he had fulfilled his promises to pass health care reform and to overturn the policy that forbade gay men and women from "serving the country they love because of who they love."
With that kind of approach, Obama could begin to start drawing in votes from all across the political spectrum just as he did in 2008.
And maybe that's how Obama hopes to win the future – or, at least, 2012.