US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech will urge optimism, pulling back from Washington’s current climate of strife, a top official insisted Friday.
Previewing next Tuesday’s speech before Congress, a senior administration official said Trump will “cast an inspiring vision of American greatness.”
The president — in open warfare with opposition Democrats, as well as railing almost daily against prosecutors looking at allegations that he colluded with Russia in his 2016 election — will take the high ground, the official said.
“Optimistic and unifying, but I think it can also be considered visionary,” the official said of the speech.
However, the speech is bound to be one of the most politically fraught in years, coming against the backdrop of a bitter row with opposition Democrats who refuse to fund Trump’s plan for more walling along the US-Mexican border.
The dispute even led to Congress delaying the date of the speech.
And Trump himself hinted Friday that he will use the delayed event to declare a national emergency, allowing himself to unilaterally appropriate wall building funds, bypassing Congress altogether.
The senior administration official refused to confirm any specific details of the speech and emphasized that the president’s main goal was to present a more healing tone.
According to an excerpt given to journalists, Trump will say: “Together, we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.”
The administration official, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said that Trump would focus on five areas:
– The contentious debate on illegal immigration over the Mexican border.
– An “update” on trade negotiations with China and other countries where Trump says he is strengthening markets for US workers.
– Asking Congress to approve “substantial investments” on US infrastructure projects.
– Lowering sky-high prescription medicine costs.
– Foreign policy and efforts in countries like Syria and Afghanistan to “bring an end to our endless foreign wars.”
The official refused to give concrete details of policy announcements. However, he did say that Venezuela, where Washington is supporting the opposition’s bid to push out leftist President Nicolas Maduro, would feature.
Speaking at the White House, Trump gave his strongest indication yet that he is readying to declare a state of emergency on the border, something that would undoubtedly deepen partisan bickering in Washington.
“Listen closely to the State of the Union, I think you’ll find it very exciting,” Trump said.
Trump’s threat comes well before the expiration of a February 15 deadline that he set for Congress to agree on funding for wall construction. But on Thursday he described negotiations with opposition Democrats “a waste of time.”