Even before U.S. President Barack Obama made his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney released a pre-buttal to his speech, warning the President would use the platform to divide the nation with a biased speech targeting the general elections.
As it turned out, Obama did use the platform to deliver a speech aimed at November's general elections and although he never singled out or named his Republican opponents, he did take several jabs at Mitt Romney and the Republicans in general.
The President's speech also provided a taste of the Democrats' attack strategy, if Romney does indeed turn out as Obama's opponent later in the year.
The first unmistakable reference was when Obama spoke about levying a tax on millionaires. Romney, of course, has been at the center of a storm regarding his tax returns.
According to Romney's tax releases, he pays a lower rate of tax (at 13.9 percent) despite being a millionaire several times over. Predictably, his tax revelations were the primary reason he lost the South Carolina GOP elections to Newt Gingrich.
The former Governor of Massachusetts justified his tax rates by saying he could not apologize for being successful and had done exactly what any other American in his position would. In an earlier discussion on the same issue, he also accused Obama of engaging in bitter politics of envy.
The President's reply, delivered during the State of the Union address, was:
When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it's not because they envy the rich. It's because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don't need and the country can't afford, it either adds to the deficit or somebody else has to make up the difference.
Obama also said he was against repealing the reform laws and held the Bush administration responsible for the economic recession he inherited when he took charge of the country. Meanwhile, he stated that tax cut laws which benefitted the rich should be repealed.
I'll oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place, Obama said, referring to Bush taxation policies. In making such a statement, Obama has placed himself at odds with Romney, who is volubly in favor of continuing the Bush-era-tax cuts that have benefited capitalists avoid higher rates of taxes.
In addition, Obama also used the occasion to refer to the success of his economic policies and used the example of the auto industry to suggest the country's economy was on a upswing.
There were more indirect swipes at Romney.
His remarks on housing assistance: responsible homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief, seemed to target Romney, who (for both the auto industry and the housing market) had earlier said they should be allowed to bottom out before being revived.
Finally, Obama also had something to say to Newt Gingrich.
The State of the Union speech contained suggestions that there should be laws to control lobbyists. The reason this could construed as targeting Gingrich is because he has been accused of accepting payments for his services to government-owned mortgage giant Freddie Mac - as a lobbyist. However, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives has always claimed he advised the firm as a historian and not as a lobbyist.
In conclusion, Obama's speech, as was expected, packed several direct and indirect attacks on his Republican rivals and the Republican Party - clearly keeping in mind the general elections. He focused his speech on the brighter aspects of his time in power and also made clear his path for the next eight months.
Nevertheless, his chances of returning to the White House will depend on how much he really will achieve over the next eight months.