Trump seek­ing a re­set with State of the Union

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller

WASH­ING­TON — Be­set by poor poll num­bers and the grind of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will look to re­set his term with his first State of the Union ad­dress, ar­gu­ing that his tax cut and eco­nomic poli­cies will ben­e­fit all Amer­i­cans.

The theme of his Tues­day night ad­dress to Congress and the coun­try is “Build­ing a safe, strong and proud Amer­ica,” and the pres­i­dent is look­ing to show­case ac­com­plish­ments of his first year while set­ting the tone for the sec­ond.

Aides say the pres­i­dent plans to set aside his more com­bat­ive tone for one of com­pro­mise, and to make an ap­peal be­yond his base.

Trump of­ten en­gages in hy­per­par­ti­san pol­i­tics, and his tax over­haul has been crit­i­cized for dis­pro­por­tion­ately fa­vor­ing the wealthy. But he will try to make the case that all groups of peo­ple have ben­e­fited dur­ing his watch, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial who was not au­tho­rized to pre­view the speech for the record and spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

The an­nual ad­dress is a big set piece for any pres­i­dent, a prime-time win- dow to ad­dress mil­lions of vot­ers. Ev­ery word is re­viewed, ev­ery pres­i­den­tial guest care­fully cho­sen, ev­ery sen­tence re­hearsed. The stakes are enor­mous for Trump, hop­ing to move past a tur­bu­lent first 12 months in of­fice.

Trump is giv­ing the speech “with the low­est ap­proval rat­ings of any pres­i­dent in his first year in the his­tory of pres­i­den­tial polling, and can point to the least num­ber of leg­isla­tive ac­com­plish­ments,” said Wendy Schiller, po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at Brown Univer­sity. “Ev­ery month that goes by in which Trump fails to in­crease his sup­port works against him be­cause vot­ers’ neg­a­tive im­pres­sions of him will just so­lid­ify.”

She said the ad­dress “could turn that around if he strikes a bi­par­ti­san con­cil­ia­tory tone and makes it more about the coun­try than about him­self.”

Five themes are ex­pected to dom­i­nate: the econ­omy and the tax over­haul, in­fra­struc­ture, im­mi­gra­tion, trade, and ter­ror­ism and global threats.

Sell­ing the GOP’s tax plan is an elec­tion-year project as Repub­li­cans look to re­tain their ma­jor­ity in Congress. The tax changes are billed as es­sen­tial to pow­er­ing the am­bi­tious pro­jec­tions of eco­nomic growth, and Trump is ex­pected to cite the ben­e­fits to the pub­lic that pro­po­nents en­vi­sion.

Trump also plans to out­line a nearly $2 tril­lion plan that his ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tends will trig­ger $1 tril­lion or more in pub­lic and pri­vate spend­ing on roads, bridges and other pub­lic works projects.

On im­mi­gra­tion, he will pro­mote his new pro­posal for $ 25 bil­lion for a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der and for a path to cit­i­zen­ship for hun­dreds of thou­sands of young peo­ple brought to the United States as chil­dren and now here il­le­gally.

Trump’s trade talk will re­flect what he dis­cussed at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Switzer­land on Fri­day: a pref­er­ence for one-on-one deals in­stead of mul­ti­lat­eral agree­ments.

The pub­lic should get an up­date on the fight against ter­ror­ism and an as­sess­ment of in­ter­na­tional threats, in­clud­ing North Korea.

The se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said Trump prob­a­bly would avoid the taunts of “Lit­tle Rocket Man” for Kim Jong Un and “fire and fury” that he used be­fore.

The ad­dress comes at a crit­i­cal point for the pres­i­dent. He wants to move past the gov­ern­ment s hut­down t hat co­in­cided with the an­niver­sary of his in­au­gu­ra­tion and pre­pare for a gru­el­ing elec­tion sea­son that is shap­ing up as a ref­er­en­dum on his lead­er­ship.

Trump and mem­bers of his Cab­i­net are ex­pected to travel in the days after the speech to drive home its themes.

Crit­ics won­der why the pres­i­dent will show the re­solve to stay on mes­sage.

“The most ca­pa­ble White Houses use the State of the Union as an or­ga­niz­ing mo­ment to set agenda for the whole year, from both a mes­sag­ing and leg­isla­tive per­spec­tive,” said Jen­nifer Palmieri, for­mer com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. “I don’t think this White House is ca­pa­ble of that kind of dis­ci­pline.”

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