By Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist Published Jan 26, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Have to admit it, despite the cold temperatures, the spotlight is keeping all of us warm.

During last night's State Of The Union speech by Barack Obama, we were already basking in the glow from the success of a certain professional football team last Sunday.

But following the speech, the political spin masters of both parties know that Wisconsin is the place to be.

Because of who we are, who we vote for and how we interact in this community, we are a perfect gauge in how the rest of the nation will follow.

Both parties know they need to sway independent-minded people, and that in Wisconsin, most of our voter base has no qualms of switching parities to back an individual or set of ideals that match our own.

Rep. Paul Ryan was tapped by the GOP to offer the response on the national stage. What he said in his speech didn't surprise. Ryan focused on the platform he and his party have been talking about lately in the need to control spending. But I have to say that his delivery, while I believe it was genuine, was toned down -- even a little too much.

I'm sure he was conscious to the nature of the timing, given the tone set by the tribute of support for the victims in the Tucson, Ariz., shootings. I'm sure he purposefully kept things quieter, and by his sniffling, I'm guessing he wasn't feeling his best.

But I've seen him speak, I've witnessed first-hand his interaction with the camera on TV. He did a fine job, don't get me wrong, but I don't think it was the top of his abilities.

Today the spotlight shifts to Manitowoc, where Obama will make three stops with national media in tow. The Democrats know they need to offer a blue-collar approach to selling the points of the speech, moving forward the agenda of rebuilding and making investments in the future.

This is Wisconsin's chance to shine, proving that determination, the ability to overcome obstacles and offering a manufacturing hub is good for the nation and its competitiveness in the international market. There's a lot hanging on positive image, and more importantly, getting buy-in from the rest of America.

Later this evening, Milwaukee hits the national stage with a showcase of performances on "American Idol." The Milwaukee Art Museum will be showcased, gleaming with its stunning architecture along the Lake Michigan shore.

There's a lot of Wisconsin in the spotlight right now. My hope is we all seize this opportunity to shine.

Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist

Media is bombarding us everywhere.

Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.

The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.