White House of­fi­cials hope speech will re­pair rep­u­ta­tion – un­til the next tweet

Yorkshire Post - - UK & ABROAD -

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.

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