Face to face with emboldened Democrats, President Donald Trump called on Washington to throw away”revenge, opposition and retribution” and finish”ridiculous partisan investigations” in a State of the Union address delivered in a vulnerable moment because of his presidency.
Trump appealed Tuesday night for bipartisanship but refused to yield on the hard-line immigration policies which have infuriated Democrats and forced the current government shutdown. He renewed his call for a boundary wall and cast illegal immigration as a danger to Americans’ safety and economic security.
Trump admitted no blame for his job in fostering the rancorous atmosphere in the nation’s capital, and he did not outline a clear route to collaborating with Democrats who are eager to block his strategy. Their resistance was on brilliant display as Democratic congresswomen in the crowd formed a sea of white in a nod to early 20th-century suffragettes.
Trump is staring down a two-year stretch that will ascertain whether he’s re-elected or leaves office in defeat. His address sought to shore up Republican support which had eroded slightly during the current government shutdown and previewed a fresh defense against Democrats as they ready a round of investigations into every aspect of his administration.
“If there will be peace and legislation, there can’t be investigation and war,” he declared. Lawmakers from the cavernous House room sat largely silent.
Trump calls for bipartisanship
Looming over the president’s speech was a fast-approaching Feb. 15 deadline to fund the government and avoid another shutdown. Democrats have refused to comply with his demands for a border wall, and Republicans are increasingly reluctant to shut down the government to help him meet his signature campaign pledge. Nor does the GOP support the president’s strategy to declare a federal emergency if Congress will not fund the wall.
Wary of publicly highlighting those intraparty divisions, Trump made no mention of an emergency declaration in his remarks. He did provide a lengthy defense of his call for a border wall, declaring:”I shall build it” However he delivered no ultimatums about exactly what it’d require him to sign laws to keep the government open.
“I am asking you to protect our very dangerous southern border from devotion and love to our fellow citizens and to our nation,” he said, painting a dark and foreboding picture of the risks posed to Americans by illegal immigration.
The 72-year-old Trump harkened back to minutes of American greatness, celebrating the moon landing as astronaut Buzz Aldrin looked on by the audience and heralding the liberation of Europe from the Nazis. He headed the House room in singing happy birthday to a Holocaust survivor sitting with first woman Melania Trump.
“Together, we represent the most extraordinary nation in all of history. What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?” Trump said.
The president ticked through a litany of issues using crossover appeal, such as boosting infrastructure, lowering prescription drug costs and combating childhood cancer. But he also appealed to his political base, both with his rhetoric on immigration and a call for Congress to pass laws to prohibit the”late-term abortion of children.”
Trump devoted much of his speech to foreign policy, yet another area where Republicans have distanced themselves from the White House. He announced details of a second meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, representing a Feb. 27-28 summit in Vietnam.
Trump and Kim’s first summit garnered only a vaguely worded commitment by the North to denuclearize. However, the president said his outreach to Pyongyang had made the U.S. safer.
“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” he said.
Since he condemned political turmoil in Venezuela,” Trump announced that”America will never be a socialist country” — a remark that may also have been targeted at high-profile Democrats who recognize as socialists.
Clearly Seeing this Trump calls for bipartisanship
The president was surrounded by symbols of his emboldened political opposition. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was praised by Democrats for her hard-line negotiating during the shutdown, sat Trump as he talked. And many senators running for president were also in the audience, such as Sens. Kamala Harris of both California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Another Democratic superstar, Stacey Abrams, delivered the party’s response to Trump.
Trump’s speech equates to a primary debate because of his re-election campaign. Polls reveal he has work to do, with his approval rating falling to just 34 percent after the shutdown, as per a recent poll performed by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
One bright spot for the president has become the market, which has additional jobs for 100 consecutive months.
“The one thing which may stop it,” he said,”are absurd wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations” — a clear swipe at the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 effort, as well as the upcoming congressional investigations.
The varied Democratic caucus, including that a bevy of women, sat quietly for much of Trump’s speech. But they leapt to their feet when he noted that there are”more women in the work force than ever before.”
The increase is due to population growth — rather than something Trump can credit to some of his policies.
The president also defended his decisions to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan over the resistance from national security officers and many Republican lawmakers.
“Great nations don’t fight wars that are endless,” he said, adding the U.S. is working with allies to”ruin the remnants” of the Islamic State team and that he’s”accelerated” attempts to reach a settlement in Afghanistan.
IS militants have lost land since Trump’s surprise announcement in December that he had been pulling U.S. forces outside, but army officials warn that the fighters could regroup within six months to a year of the Americans leaving. Several major GOP lawmakers have criticized his plans to withdraw from Syria, in addition to from Afghanistan.
Trump’s guests for the speech comprised Alice Marie Johnson, a girl whose entire life sentence for drug crimes was commuted from the president, and Joshua Trump, a sixth-grade pupil from Wilmington, Delaware, that has been bullied over his name. They sat with Mrs. Trump through the speech.
This story has been adjusted to show that Trump’s guest to the address has been Alice Marie Johnson, not Anna Marie Johnson.
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