Trump Focuses on 'Great American Comeback' at State of the Union Address

President boasts of domestic achievements at yearly address peppered with surprise announcements

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U.S. President Donald Trump's deliver his State of the Union address, Washington, U.S. February 4, 2020
U.S. President Donald Trump's deliver his State of the Union address, Washington, U.S. February 4, 2020Credit: LEAH MILLIS/ REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his third State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, hours before his likely acquittal in his impeachment trial.

In the speech, which lasted slightly longer than an hour, Trump exalted the successes of his major policies, from resource extraction, to economic development, immigration control, with domestic taking precedence over foreign policy.

He made only a short mention of the Middle-East peace plan, praising his administration's "groundbreaking plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians." 

Jared Kushner, next to Lara Trump, attends the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, February 4, 2020Credit: AFP

"We must be determined and creative in order to stabilize the region and give millions of young people the chance to realize a better future," Trump said.

American involvement in the Middle-East was a primary focus of the speech. Trump defended two high-level targeted assassinations, the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, which brought the Middle-East to the brink of war earlier in January.

"Soleimani was the Iranian Regime’s most ruthless butcher, a monster who murdered or wounded thousands of American service members in Iraq," he said, praising Iran's protesters, and adding that crippling Iran sanctions could be lifted at any minute. "Let's see which road they choose. It's totally up to them," Trump concluded. 

The address started with a reciprocated snub between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the Democratic politician not giving the president the usual honors, and him appearing not to shake her hand.

Pelosi also ripped the copy of the address Trump handed her after he finished speaking, sparking criticism from the White House. 

Trump's performance was peppered with surprise announcements, including the return of a U.S. serviceman, unbeknownst to his family, to shouts of "U.S.A.! U.S.A!" from Republican representatives. 

On the other side of the aisle, which was mostly silent throughout, Democratic women all wore white to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the 1920 19th amendment to the U.S. constitution, which allowed white women to vote for the first time.

'Freedom unifies the soul'

The president also introduced Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to general applause, blasting the government of Nicolas Maduro.

"Socialism destroys nations, but always remember freedom unifies the soul," he said, emphasizing that the "defense of American liberty" justified increased military spending.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido accepts applause at the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, February 04, 2020Credit: AFP

Trump courted controversy by awarding the Medal of Freedom, the highest official civilian honor, to conservative media personality Rush Limbaugh during the speech. The medal was given to Limbaugh by first lady Melania Trump.

Shortly thereafter, the president launched into a detailed account of crimes committed by undocumented migrants, praising the work of immigration enforcement agencies. Donald Trump's stringent policy on illegal immigration has attracted criticism in recent months.

With impeachment proceedings coming to an end, and Democrats facing difficulties following an unconvincing first primary in Iowa, Trump blasted his Democratic opponents' social reforms and boasted of what he viewed as the successes of his 'Make America Great Again' policies. 

"We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare!" he said, directly aiming at Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have proposed healthcare plans that would be entirely run by the government.

"In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American Decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America's destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!" Trump said.

"Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God’s grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come!" Donald Trump concluded.

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