Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Biden turns the State of the Union into a fiery campaign stump speech: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 Mar8,2024



Welcome to the special edition of Post-Community From the policy desknewsletter that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill from the NBC News Politics team.

On tonight’s episode, senior national politics correspondent Jonathan Allen explains that Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech was more like a campaign stump speech. Senior National Political Correspondent Sahil Kapoor takes you inside the House chamber for the much awaited event.


Biden turns the State of the Union into a fiery campaign stump speech

Analysis by Jonathan Allen

President Joe Biden declined tonight under the pretense of rising above the political fray. State of the Union address it hit his general election opponent, former President Donald Trump, and congressional Republicans with unusual force.

“Not long ago, Republican President Ronald Reagan boomed: ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – said Biden a few minutes after his speech, referring to the former Soviet leader and the Berlin Wall to continue US aid to Ukraine. “Now my predecessor, the former Republican president, is telling Putin to do whatever he wants. … I think it’s outrageous; it is dangerous and unacceptable.”

It was one of dozens of times Biden referred to Trump, who he beat in 2020, as his “predecessor.”


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In what amounted to a fiery campaign stump speech in the House of Representatives, Biden offered his second-term proposals — cutting prescription drug prices, raising taxes on corporations and providing mortgage subsidies — to his political rivals on a broad scale. His allies will be reassured by his energy and the combative tone of his remarks — signs of a vitality that cut through caricatures of the 81-year-old Biden with a carefree, nonchalant tone.

But with critics saying age was catching up with him, Biden botched a few lines badly. In an unscripted moment, he invited Republicans to travel abroad with him and included Moscow – the Russian capital from where the invasion of Ukraine was ordered – on his list. Later, he mixed words intended to punch as he blasted Trump for trying to sink the border security measure.

“I was told that my predecessor called the Republicans in Congress and asked them to block the bill. He thinks it will be a political victory for me and a political defeat for him,” Biden said. He should have followed it up by saying it would be a victory for the American people.

Instead, Biden said, “I would have won — not really.”

Those two moments were brief in the appeal, which lasted just over an hour. Biden has spoken with a great deal of conviction and courage, and he has laid out areas where he will be at odds with Trump between now and November in ways that will excite House Democrats.

“Four more years,” they shouted over and over.

In other words, there was enough for Democrats to feel good about the man who effectively sealed their nomination on Tuesday — even if it left Republicans with a little more political ammunition.


Inside the house room: A long wait, followed by good cheer and a few hecklers

By Sahil Kapoor

When the President entered the House of Representatives, he was 16 minutes late.

But spirits were high while they waited for him. And when he finally came to deliver his final State of the Union address ahead of the 2024 election, he spent a few minutes talking to MPs like nowhere else.

Standing across the aisle, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., wore a red “MAGA” hat and was seen speaking in Biden’s direction. He continued and chatted with others, several Democrats stopping to take selfies with him. Democrats started chanting “four more years” while Republicans stood stone-faced.

There was also some bipartisanship on display: Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, sat next to Senator Mitt Romney of Utah on the Republican side of the aisle as an escort committee prepared to bring the president. The two retired centrists were greeted with friendly smiles and handshakes by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., running for Senate.

It took about 10 minutes for Biden to start speaking. He sometimes received shouts and screams from the visiting section and sometimes from the MPs. In a minor miracle, he avoided the leftist objections to Gaza throughout his speech.

The most regular shout “Laken Riley!” it was Greene who shouted. As Biden discusses immigration. Biden called Riley “an innocent young woman killed by an illegal person” and urged Republicans to pass a bipartisan border security bill.

Biden said they were thwarted by the order to deny Trump a political victory. “Unfortunately,” he said, “politics have derailed this bill so far.”

Dozens of Democratic women dressed in white and wore pins that read “Fight for Reproductive Freedom” and (apparently) deliberately congregated in a field.

While Democrats were busy — cheering, cheering, laughing in approval at Biden’s jokes — Republicans seemed bored by much of his speech, many looking at their phones and some leaving early.

After about an hour, they finally cheered when Biden said, “Let me close with this…”

“I know you don’t want to hear it anymore, Lindsey, but I have a few more things to say,” Biden told Sen. Lindsey Graham, RSC.

After Biden finished his speech and Johnson adjourned the House and turned off the lights, the president held court for about half an hour before finally exiting.

Read Sahil’s thoughts on Biden’s speech here.


For now, that’s it from The Politics Desk. If you have feedback – like it or not – send us an email politicsnewsletter@nbcuni.com

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