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By Larry Kane

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Tonight, the president offers his State of the Union address. It is a tradition, required by the Constitution, but it also comes at a critical time.

What a fascinating night ahead. There are three speeches. The President delivers the State of the Union. His comments on the budget deficit and taxes will be watched carefully to see if he is willing to compromise. If he’s conciliatory, he might see progress. If he is tough and unrelenting, it could be a sizzling spring of dissent. He walks a fine line and unlike the inaugural this speech requires specifics.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio will deliver the GOP answer. He’s a good speaker but in a show of Republican division, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will give the Tea Party response. Republican leaders are livid that Paul, who views himself as a Presidential candidate is giving that speech.

One thing is certain: when the President talks, the Democrats will cheer, the Republicans will be polite. It’s how many times that both sides applaud that will tell you if real compromise is possible.

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