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President’s speech seen as soft launch to 2024 re-election bid – follow all the latest politics news.
It’s been less than a year since Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address on March 2 of last year, but a lot has changed over the last year. Top of mind for many Americans has been the economy, with inflation rising to decades-high level over the summer. Republicans gained a slim majority in the House during the midterm election. One thing has not changed: The war in Ukraine is still rattling on.
In last year’s 62-minute speech, Congress was largely unified in support of Ukraine, with the invasion having taken place just a week prior. Both Democrats and Republicans were wearing yellow and blue in solidarity with Ukraine, and some held small Ukrainian flags.
This year, First Lady Jill Biden has invited Ukraine’s ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova to be her guest to the address for the second year. Markarova received a standing ovation when she was introduced during Biden’s speech last year.
Biden is expected to ask for bipartisan support in sending more aid to Ukraine as the anniversary of the invasion approaches. Yesterday, NBC News reported that Biden is expected to travel to Poland later this month for the anniversary, though the trip has not been confirmed.
Amid a divided Washington, Biden expected to call for unity
State of the Union addresses are usually a pretty big deal – it’s a major opportunity for the president to set the tone for the year in front of the most important people in Washington. This year, the stakes for Joe Biden are even higher. The 2024 presidential election is already looming on the horizon, and while Biden has yet to officially launch a reelection campaign, he is expected to do so in the next few weeks.
Biden has been prepping for his speech for weeks and is expected to lay out an underlying theme of unity, angling for stable leadership over one drenched in partisan disarray. He is expected to speak at length about the achievements of the last two years, including the passage of the $1.2tn Bipartisan Infrastructure bill that was passed in 2021 and invests in repairing America’s roads and bridges, among other investments. He will also touch on recent good news around the economy, including a low unemployment rate and the decreasing inflation rate.
Republicans are already readying up their punches in response to tonight’s address as the party tries to make their own case to Americans that Democrats have failed while in power.
“The state of the union is weaker and American families are suffering because of Joe Biden,” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement this morning. “There is a reason Republicans took back the House, and that’s because of speeches like tonight where Biden will ignore and deflect blame for inflation, rising crime, and a border crisis he created. Americans deserve solutions, but all they’ll hear from Biden are excuses.”
Biden prepares for State of the Union
Good morning, and welcome to the politics live blog.
Washington is gearing up for Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, what many are seeing as a “soft launch” to a likely 2024 re-election campaign. The president will touch on the economy, touting the economic measures that have been passed under his tenure so far, especially the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill and Inflation Reduction Act. He will also likely point to recent job figures and declining inflation as signs that the economy is heading in a good direction.
The speech comes at a pivotal moment for Biden as the 2024 presidential election, while nearly two years away, is starting to roll in. This is the first year in Biden’s tenure that he will be addressing a divided Congress, with a Republican-controlled House. Republicans are starting to zero in on attacks against Biden, whose approval ratings have been fluctuating just above 40% in the last few months. The address gives Biden an opportunity not only to set the tone for the year ahead, but to try to reframe how voters see his presidency so far.
Here’s what else we’re watching today:
Republicans are gearing up for a widespread rebuttal of tonight’s address – as the party not in power always does. Arkansas governor and former Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is poised to give a key speech tonight in response to Biden’s address.
Revelations on the failure of US air defenses to spot the Chinese air balloon were revealed yesterday. Republicans have been doubling down on criticism toward Biden over the mishandling, though reports show the balloon was in the air during Donald Trump’s presidency too.
Stay tuned for more live updates.