Most presidents are clearly energized from delivering their State of the Union addresses. The grandiose setting of a packed House chamber, the pomp and pageantry, the certain waves of applause from your own party and sometimes from the other side, too, are a good adrenaline rush. It's a hard act to follow.
Just ask the lucky — or unlucky — politician chosen to deliver the subsequent nationally broadcast opposition-party response.
This year the dubious honor belongs to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising GOP star believed able to connect well with Hispanics and young people —two voting blocs that went heavily for Obama in 2012 and that Republicans now covet.
Tuesday night's GOP response constitutes an opportunity for the 41-year old Cuban-American lawmaker to show that he can handle the national spotlight and stand up to the president oratorically. He will speak in both Spanish and English.
The pressure is particularly high this year. The speech could propel Rubio into becoming the leading contender for the 2016 Republican nomination.
But the spot has potential pitfalls, too, with high chances for a stumble.
It's hard to sound presidential when you have none of the trappings of the office. And the contrast immediately is apparent to millions of TV viewers.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, most recently known for urging the GOP to "stop being the stupid party," fell flat with his soft-spoken, platitude-filled GOP response to Obama's first address to Congress in February 2009. It was widely panned.
The problem, Jindal later reflected, is that Obama "is a great speaker, probably the greatest we've seen in a generation. I'm not nearly as good of a speaker. I'm not the only one that's got that opinion."
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell delivered the Republican response in 2010, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan in 2011 and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2012. None of those speeches are likely to be long-remembered.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will deliver a separate tea party response on Tuesday.
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