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Jakarta Post

Trump to tout 'one American family' in State of the Union address

  • Andrew Beatty


Washington, United States   /   Wed, January 31, 2018   /   07:55 am
Trump to tout 'one American family' in State of the Union address Activists and dreamers protest before US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Jan.30 in Washington, DC. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

US President Donald Trump will make a pitch for national unity in his maiden State of the Union address Tuesday, calling for "one team, one people, and one American family" to work together.

Delivering his biggest speech of the year before a joint session of Congress, this most polarizing of presidents was to declare a "new American moment," according to excerpts of his speech released by the White House.

"Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family," he will say.

Over the years, the State of the Union address has lost some of its influence, but the primetime address, watched by as many as 40 million Americans, is a once-in-a-year opportunity for Trump to speak to the nation and mend his sunken approval ratings.

During his first year, Trump has proven to be one of the most divisive political figures in modern American history, defying norms and sticking to a base-first approach with little attempt to widen his appeal.

But with legislative elections scheduled for November and the probe into his campaign's ties with Russia intensifying, Tuesday's speech may see something of a change in strategy.

"I would love, I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity," Trump said at the White House, previewing his remarks.

That softer tone may be borne from political necessity. Trump's approval rating is languishing around 40 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average, and opposition to his presidency is intense.

At a donor retreat in California this week, Republican strategists warned that an unpopular president and strong enthusiasm among Democrats could spell electoral doom.

If the Republican-controlled Congress were to change hands in November, whispers calling for Trump's impeachment would undoubtedly become screams.

Adding to Republican woes is a steady stream of revelations about the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, which is accused of trying to tilt the 2016 election in Trump's favor.

- The state of the union is... -

In 94 previous addresses, American presidents have described the state of the union as "good," "strong," "sound" or in the case of a glum Gerald Ford, "not good."

Expect no such moderation from the 71-year-old real estate mogul and reality TV star.

Trump is poised to tout a long bull run on Wall Street and improving growth rates, something the White House is calling a "Trump bump" -- even though that narrative suffered a setback when stocks suffered their biggest drop in eight months on Tuesday amid fears of a bubble. 

"Just as I promised the American People from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history," Trump will say. 

"Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses," he will add. "Since we passed tax cuts, roughly three million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses -- many of them thousands of dollars per worker."

Since Trump came to office a year ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up by almost 33 percent. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low.

- 'America First' -

Tuesday's speech will also touch on the highly charged issue of migration, where Trump continues to play firmly to his base.

Two couples whose daughters were murdered by MS-13, a Salvadoran gang, are among those the White House invited to attend the address in Washington.

"Tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed," he will say -- while advocating immigration policies that focus on the "best interests of American workers and American families."

Trump can also be expected to lift his gaze beyond the United States to what Washington sees as Iran's troublesome activities across the Middle East, as well as North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

He will declare America and her allies have liberated "almost 100 percent of the territory" once held by the Islamic State group, but add "there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated."

And trade is expected to be a strong focus, with Trump repeating claims that the current terms of global business are unfair to the world's largest economy. (**)