White House officials hope speech will repair reputation – until the next tweet
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump was last night due to herald a robust economy and push for bipartisan congressional action on immigration in his State of the Union address as he sought to rally a deeply divided nation.
The speech marked the ceremonial kick-off of his second year in office and is traditionally a president’s biggest platform to speak to the nation.
However, Mr Trump has redefined presidential communications with his high-octane, filter-free Twitter account and there was no guarantee that the carefully crafted speech would resonate beyond his next tweet. Still, White House officials were hopeful the president could use the prime-time address to Congress and millions of Americans watching at home to take credit for a soaring economy.
Though the trajectory of lower unemployment and higher growth began under his predecessor, Mr Trump argues that the tax overhaul he signed into law late last year has boosted business confidence and will lead companies to reinvest in the United States.
Considering the strength of the economy, Mr Trump was stepping before lawmakers in a remarkably weak position.
His approval rating has hovered in the 30s for much of his presidency and at the close of 2017, just three in ten Americans said the United States was heading in the right direction, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research. In the same survey, 67 per cent of Americans said the country was more divided because of Mr Trump.
Congress has struggled with the basic function of funding the government, with a brief government shutdown earlier this month only resolved only with a short-term fix that pushed the spending deadline to February 8.
Against the backdrop of the spending fight, Republicans and Democrats are also wrestling with President Trump’s controversial actions to curb immigration.