President Trump Cites Economic Growth in State of the Union

February 5, 2020

In his third State of the Union address, President Donald Trump told a bitterly divided Congress and country that his administration, in three years, has "shattered the mentality of American Decline and we have rejected the downsizing of Americans' destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago and we are never ever going back!"

This marked the first time an impeached president delivered the annual address in a year he is running for re-election.

Trump was greeted by ebullient Republicans chanting "Four more years!"

Many Democrats, looking somber, did not welcome the president with applause. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered her hand for Trump to shake, he turned away without taking it and she then shrugged.

Trump's loyal number two, Vice President Mike Pence, was seated directly behind the president and frequently leapt to his feet to applaud during the address. Also in camera frame behind Trump was a subdued Pelosi, considered a key nemesis by the president for her role in leading the Democrat's impeachment process.

The Democratic Party's women of the House were dressed in white to honor the suffragist movement which led to the right of women to vote in elections.

The speech, with the theme of "The Great American Comeback," mainly promoted the president's domestic agenda and listed accomplishments ranging from trade deals to creation of the Space Force as the newest branch of the U.S. military.

Trump said the country should be "a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans – not criminal aliens," adding that his administration has undertaken "an unprecedented effort to secure the southern border of the United States."

In addition to strongly defending national security and American lives, the president declared "we are working to end America's wars in the Middle East."

Trump said Iran's economy is doing very poorly due to American sanctions. The United States could reverse that in a short period of time "but perhaps they are too proud or too foolish to ask for that help," said the president. "We are here. Let's see which road they choose. It is totally up to them."
The formal address is a rare time when not only are the members of the two chambers of Congress brought together, but are joined by most of the president's cabinet, the Supreme Court justices and the top military brass.

One member of the cabinet usually does not attend, the so-called designated survivor. This year it was Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who remained at an undisclosed secure location not in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Capitol building.

Among the high-profile guests invited by the White House: Juan Guaido, the opposition leader in Venezuela whom the United States regards as that country's president.

Trump said Nicolas Maduro is an illegitimate ruler of Venezuela.

"But Maduro's grip of tyranny will be smashed and broken," vowed the president.

Lawmakers also invited guests. A guest of Pelosi's was Fred Guttenberg, a gun control advocate whose daughter died in a school mass shooting in Florida in 2018.

There were a couple of surprise moments during the 78-minute address.

Trump had the first lady, Melania Trump, award the Medal of Freedom to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who announced the previous day he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

A family of an Army sergeant serving in Afghanistan on his fourth overseas tour of duty, invited to attend the speech by the White House, was stunned when the head of the household walked in for a reunion.

At least ten Democratic Party House members skipped the speech.

"I will not be a witness to puffery and prevarication flowing while our Constitution and our laws are disrespectfully and dangerously flouted," Steve Cohen of Tennessee said in a statement.

"None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it," said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, accusing Trump of "lawless conduct and subversion of the Constitution."

Two members of the so-called "Squad" of progressive wing Congresswomen, Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Somalia native Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, however, decided to attend.

Omar said she was attending "on behalf of all of those targeted by this president to say, ‘We are greater than hate.' My presence tonight is resistance."

Trump last year, faced criticism for telling the Squad to "go back" to the "crime infested places from which they came."

The president was more subdued in regards to his political adversaries on Tuesday night.

"We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare" the president proclaimed after promising to "protect patients with pre-existing conditions."

Health care is expected to be a significant issue in this year's presidential election.

Trump's job approval rating has risen to 49 percent, his highest in Gallup polling since he took office in 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he holds a news conference at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland…

Trump's Public Approval Ratings Reach New High in Gallup Poll

The poll was conducted as Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate neared an end

Trump, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, is only the third president to be impeached. As was the case with the other two, he is expected to survive a Senate vote to remove him from office.

The Senate, which is controlled by Trump's Republican Party, is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the pair of charges brought by the Democratic-controlled House accusing the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who attended the Tuesday evening address, is presiding over the impeachment trial in the Senate, which is virtually certain to acquit Trump.

The annual address fulfills a constitutional requirement for the president to periodically inform Congress of the state of the union.

The first U.S. president, George Washington, addressed lawmakers in 1790. Thomas Jefferson discontinued the speech, deeming it too monarchical and presidents delivered a written message read by a clerk until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson revived what has now become the tradition of the chief executive personally reading the address.

A modern twist is the opposition party's response.

Michigan's governor, Gretchen Whitmer, delivered the Democrats' 10-minute English-language rebuttal to Trump's address.

"Democrats are trying to make your health care better. Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away," she said in the remarks televised from a high school her daughters attend in East Lansing. "It doesn't matter what the president says about the stock market. What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don't have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans, or prescription drugs."

Witmer added that "workers are hurting. In my own state. Our neighbors in Wisconsin. And Ohio. And Pennsylvania. All over the country. Wages have stagnated, while CEO pay has skyrocketed."
A Spanish-language response from the opposition party was made by Veronica Escobar, a first-term Congresswoman from Texas. She spoke from a community health center in El Paso, where her family has run a dairy farm for several generations.

Escobar made reference to the August 3, 2019 targeted attack that killed 22 people and wounded two dozen others in El Paso.

"A domestic terrorist confessed to driving over 10 hours to target Mexicans and immigrants. Just before he began his killing spree, he posted his views online and used hateful language like the very words used by President Trump to describe immigrants and Latinos," said Escobar.

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