What to Expect During Tonight's State of the Union Address

Tonight, President Trump will deliver his third State of the Union address and his fourth speech to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber.

The speech will begin around 9:10 p.m. Eastern time and is scheduled to go on for about an hour and fifteen minutes. The president's address will be followed by responses from two Democrats, one in English and one in Spanish.

The big unknown is whether the president will address the issue of impeachment, as he'll be in front of the 100 jurors deciding his fate tomorrow, along with the chamber that issued the two articles of impeachment against him. The White House had hoped the trial would have concluded with an acquittal by tonight's address. However, the Senate delayed the final vote until tomorrow so that members of both parties could give speeches explaining their decisions. Bill Clinton is the only other president to deliver a State of the Union address during an impeachment trial, and he declined to mention it in his 1999 speech.

Several Republican senators have urged the president not to include any mention of impeachment in his address. If he does, it likely won't sound at all like his tweets on the subject. Looking back at his past addresses to Congress, President Trump has always taken a much different tone than what you'd find on his Twitter feed or what you'd hear from him at a rally.

According to White House officials, the president will use tonight's address as a way to essentially kick-off his reelection campaign, with the theme of the speech being "the great American comeback." He's going to talk about the work done rebuilding the United States over the past few years, while accusing his Democratic opponents of favoring socialist policies and warning that a win for them in November would mean the reversal of the progress his administration has made.

The president will highlight his record on the economy, his appointment of conservative judges, the completion of the USMCA trade agreement, and funding increases for the military. He'll also spend a sizable amount of the address shining a spotlight on his special guests.

Focusing on the future, the president will discuss issues like lowering health care costs, more changes to our immigration policies, school choice, and possibly even another round of tax cuts. He'll also encourage Congress to work towards passing a paid-leave program that would enable all workers, not just federal employees, to take paid time off of work after the birth of a child. That's an issue he's brought up before during past State of the Union addresses, and it's one his daughter, Ivanka, has pushed behind the scenes.

When it comes to tone, expect an optimistic speech, along with a push for both parties to work together on crucial issues.

For the Democratic rebuttal, the party chose Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who represents a critical battleground state and who won her election in 2018 with a sizable 10-point victory over the president's handpicked candidate. Delivering the party's Spanish-language response is Texas Representative Veronica Escobar, who declined to join President Trump when he visited El Paso last August following the mass shooting at a Walmart there.

The president enters tonight in a unique position. He's dealt with a prolonged investigation into his campaign that resulted in indictments against numerous associates. More recently, he became only the third president in United States history to be impeached. Yet his acquittal tomorrow in the Senate trial is a foregone conclusion, his Gallup approval rating is at 49%, the highest of his presidency, and his opposition is in disarray following a complete debacle of the first contest in the Democratic Party's nominating process.

That, along with tonight's bully pulpit, an improved campaign infrastructure compared to 2016, and a giant war chest of campaign cash heading into the general election, and somehow the president finds himself in a strong position as he stands before the Congress and the country and delivers tonight's State of the Union address.

Something else to keep an eye on tonight is the guests that the president and members of Congress invited to the address.

In the president's speech tonight, he'll feature a mother who lost her Army husband to a roadside bomb in Iraq, likely around the time he mentions his decision to take out Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. He'll also feature a man whose brother was killed by someone the White House contends should have been deported rather than released from jail, and a 2-year-old girl born at 21 weeks.

As for members of Congress, Senator Marco Rubio is featuring a Uighur human rights activist, who's been raising awareness of the Chinese government's atrocities against Uighur Muslims.

A Hong Kong democracy activist joins Florida Senator Rick Scott. California Representative Jackie Speier decided to bring Courtney Wild, a Jeffrey Epstein accuser. Virginia Representative Gerry Connolly is joined by the fiancé of murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And some Democrats have brought patients in need of insulin as a way to highlight high prescription drug prices.

Four Supreme Court Justices are attending tonight's address: Chief Justice John Roberts, who's been presiding over Trump's impeachment trial, along with Justice Elena Kagan and both of Trump's appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

There are a few Democratic members of the House who have decided not to attend tonight's address. They include representatives Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Steve Cohen, Earl Blumenauer, Al Green, Hank Johnson, and Frederica Wilson.

You can listen to the entire address via the iHeartRadio app.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

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