Update: The speech has begun, and the headlines are rolling in. So far, Trump has largely stuck with the talking points that were leaked to the press.
As expected, his tone has been largely conciliatory, despite delivering the speech to a divided Congress for the first time since his inauguration. And the bonhomie could be felt across the aisle, as lawmakers from both parties stood and delivered a standing ovation to the president as he walked up to the House rostrum. For roughly one-third of the lawmakers in attendance, this is the first SOTU they have ever attended.
Trump started his speech by saying he stood ready to work with both parties to fulfill our nation’s “unlimited potential”, and that he hoped “we can work together not as two parties, but as one nation.” As telegraphed ahead of the speech, Trump described his agenda “not as a Republican agenda, or a Democrat agenda, but as an agenda for the American people.”
And that agenda is…
- Reduce the costs of health care and price of prescription drugs.
- Immigration that is safe lawful and secure
- And pursue a foreign policy that puts Americans first.
After noting the 75th anniversary since the end of World War II, which Trump noted was the beginning of what Dwight Eisenhower called “the Great Crusade”, before introducing three WWII veterans.
Trump went on to exhort lawmakers to reject the “politics of revenge” and focus on “cooperation” and “compromise” for the common good.
“Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.”
Moving on to his economic accomplishments, Trump touted the “unprecedented economic boom” ushered in by his policies. As evidence of this, he cited,
- 5.3 million new jobs
- 600,000 new manufacturing jobs
- Wages rising at the fastest pace in decades
- And wages for blue collar workers growing faster than anybody else thought possible
- 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps
- Economy growing twice as fast today as when I took office.
- Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century
- African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have reached lowest levels ever recorded
- Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low
- 157 million Americans are working – more than at any time during the history of our country
- Passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit
- We’ve virtually ended the estate tax for small businesses, ranches and family farms
- Eliminated “very unpopular” Obamacare individual mandate penalty
- Gave critically ill patients access to life saving cures with “right to try”
Touting his deregulation push, Trump ntoed his administration has cut more regulations during a shorter period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure, which has helped bring companies back to America in record numbers. And we’ve unleashed a revolution in US energy, with the US now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas, anywhere in the world.
And for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.
With America winning “each and every day” – thanks to our unparalleled military strength – the state of our union is “strong”, Trump said, to chants of “USA, USA, USA” from Republican lawmakers.
Exhibiting his fondness for economic data, Trump touted Friday’s jobs report, noting that the US added 304,000 jobs in January, almost double the number expected. “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or foolish investigations.”
In a shot at House Democrats preparing to let subpoenas fly, Trump warned that they should think twice before following through.
“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.” We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.
And this new era of cooperation can start by confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, some of whom have spent “years and years” waiting.
He touted his sweeping legislation to combat the opioid crisis, the farm bill, and a bill calling for VA accountability, to punish those who mistreat “our wonderful veterans.” They said it couldn’t be done, but just weeks ago, both parties came together to pass criminal justice reform. Trump then brought up the story of Alice Johnson, who was sentenced to life in the 1990s for a non-violent first-offense drug crime. “Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing and the need to remedy this total injustice. She served almost that 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the remainder of her life. But in June, I commuted Alice’s sentence.”
Trump’s “First Step Act” gives non-violent offenders a second chance.
Matthew Charles, in Tennessee, Charles was sentenced to 35 years at the age of 30 for non-violent drug offenses. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the first step act.
Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. Congress has 10 days to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland and pass a bill that will secure our border. Congress must commit to putting “human traffickers, coyotes and drug smugglers out of business,” Trump said, adding that “as we speak, large organized caravans are on the march to the Untied States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to areas where there is little border protection, I have ordered another 3,000+ troops to our southern border to prepare for this onslaught. Trump added that we have a “moral obligation” to protect our borders and ensure that those immigrants who came here legally are respected.
“No issue better illustrates the divide between Americans working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards,” Trump said, a subtle dig at the Obamas, whom he has criticized for building a wall around their homes.
Tolerating illegal immigration leads to overburdened schools and hospitals, while one and three women traveling to the southern border are sexually assaulted during the journey north. Young women are sold into prostitution and sex slavery. Because of this, “open borders” are “actually very cruel.”
Meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl pour across the border as well, brought by gangs like MS-13. Trump then cited the gang member who was arrested for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in Queens. And many innocent Americans, like the parents of Debra Bissel, are killed by illegal immigrants. She attended with her daughter and granddaughter.
Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, and Madison Armstrong
“I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, and that it should never happen again. Not one more American life should be lost because we failed to control our border. Last year border agents like Elvin Hernandez made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings.
Trump credited Hernandez with rescuing more than 300 girls from sex trafficking, while more than 1,500 traffickers have been arrested.
Trump pledged that he will “never abolish our heroes from ICE.”
Trump then outlined a proposal to Congress for the border including humantiarian aid, sophisticated drug detecting equipment, and funding for a wall to protect vulnerable areas along the border. “In the past, many people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built.”
“This is a smart, strategic see-through steel barrier, not just a simple concrete wall, it will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents in the areas identified as having the greatest need.”
“Where walls go up, illegal border crossings go way, way down.”
Trump cited San Diego as an example: A wall along the border “almost completely ended” illegal crossings. A wall also brought down El Paso, Texas’s high rates of violent crime.
* * *
It’s that time of year again. With Pelosi perched on his shoulder, President Trump will deliver his 2nd State of The Union address tonight (after last year’s marathon 80-minute oration). However, Trump’s call for cooperation did little to change the atmosphere of bitter partisan acrimony that has only intensified in Washington over the past year.
After a divisive year that featured partisan battles over the confirmation of SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s zero-tolerance border policies and – most recently – the government shutdown, according to Conway, Trump is once again planning to strike a conciliatory tone to try and silence critics who joke that his speech would be more aptly referred to as “the State of Disunion”.
“This president is going to call for an end to the politics of resistance, retribution and call for more comity,” Conway said, spelling out the last word.
Many of President Trump’s recent decisions have been controversial among both Republicans (the trade war, his decision to pull troops from Syria and Afghanistan) and Democrats (immigration, the wall, the shutdown). And as the president seeks to rally support as the 2020 campaign season gets underway, previews of the speech published by the Hill, the New York Times and NBC News suggest that Trump will spend the bulk of his time touting his victories and selling his policies to the public, while calling for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on issues like passing a sweeping infrastructure bill. The “optimistic” tone will go a long way toward setting out Trump’s goals for the coming year.
Some key highlights include:
*TRUMP TO SAY HIS AGENDA IS AGENDA OF AMERICAN PEOPLE
*TRUMP TO ANNOUNCE 2-DAY MEET WITH KIM IN SOTU SPEECH
*TRUMP TO SAY IMMIGRATION SYSTEM NEEDS TO PROTECT LIVES, JOBS
*TRUMP: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION DIVIDES WORKING, POLITICAL CLASSES
*TRUMP TO SAY GREAT NATIONS DON’T FIGHT ENDLESS WARS
*TRUMP TO REITERATE CALL FOR CHEAPER DRUGS
*TRUMP TO URGE BOTH PARTIES TO UNITE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN
Watch Live, starting at 2100ET…
* * *
But, if you find yourself drifting off – like during the Super Bowl – here are some prop bets (courtesy of ActionNetwork.com)
Will Trump say “thanks” or “thank you” first?
Thanks +300 (25% chance)
Thank You -500 (83.8% chance)
What will be the length of Trump’s speech?
One hour or longer -250 (71.4% chance)
Less than one hour +140 (37% chance)
What color will Trump’s tie be?
Red -120 (54.5% chance)
Blue +110 (52.4% chance)
Other +450 (18.2% chance)
Will Trump say Caravans?
Yes +275 (26.7% chance)
No -450 (81.8% chance)
Will Trump say Fake News?
Yes +800 (11.1% chance)
No -2500 (96.2% chance)
Will Trump say Make America Great Again?
Yes -550 (84.6% chance)
No +325 (23.5% chance)
Will Trump say National Emergency?
Yes +275 (26.7% chance)
No -450 (81.8% chance)
Will Trump say Witch Hunt?
Yes +1200 (7.7% chance)
No -5000 (98% chance)
Which will be said more times during Trump’s Speech?
Wall -600 (85.7% chance)
Huge +400 (20% chance)
How many times will “Kavanaugh” be mentioned?
Over 1.5 -115 (53.5% chance)
Under 1.5 -115 (53.5% chance)
Will Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi stand and clap for Trump?
Yes +200 (33.3% chance)
No -300 (75% chance)
Will Alexandria Ocasio Cortez stand at any point during Trump’s speech?
Yes -220 (68.8% chance)
No +180 (35.7% chance)
How many times will Trump say “Democrats”?
Over 2.5 -300 (75% chance)
Under 2.5 +200 (33.3% chance)
How many times will Trump say “Crisis”?
Over 3.5 -105 (51.2% chance)
Under 3.5 -135 (57.4% chance)
And finally – though we implore responsibility – here is the SOTU drinking game (source)…
* * *
And because we are fair and balanced – here is The Democratic Party’s response by Stacey Abrams…
*ABRAMS TO HIGHLIGHT FREE, FAIR ELECTIONS IN RESPONSE TO TRUMP
*ABRAMS SAYS SHUTDOWN WAS A `STUNT’ ENGINEERED BY TRUMP