Trump squabbles with Democrats before speech on unity

Minnie Murray
February 6, 2019

"It's a little bit of a late-in-life conversion, where now that the Democrats are in charge of the lower chamber it's time to strike a chord of unity", said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at consumer financial services company

For Trump and his inner circle, the wall has become the dominant policy concern, to the exclusion of almost all else: As an administration official told The New York Times last month, it has become a one-issue White House.

For Trump, the focus on reaching across the aisle is a tacit admission from the White House that Trump may need a course correction if he is to win re-election. That's because Trump likely will describe his time in office as, in the words of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday, "two of the most successful years under a first-term president".

Welcome to our live coverage of the 2019 State of the Union address, with US President Donald Trump to address Congress from 1pm AEDT. They faced Trump down during the shutdown, and when the heat turned up as the days turned into a month, the public blamed Trump and didn't even like the wall very much (and more than two-thirds of them today are opposed to a national emergency).

"To every Republican, if you don't stand behind this president, we're not going to stand behind you, when it comes to the wall", he said in Greenville, South Carolina.

While Trump was still putting the final touches on the speech Tuesday afternoon, he was expected to use some of his televised address to showcase a growing economy.

Trump has said that if no deal is reached to his satisfaction by February 15, it could lead to another shutdown.

A source close to Trump said the president was not expected to take that step, which likely would draw a swift court challenge from Democrats. Despite the shutdown, the US economy added a robust 304,000 jobs in January, marking 100 straight months of job growth. Despite the objections of some advisers, Trump announced in December that he was withdrawing USA forces in Syria.

In a weekend interview with CBS, Trump said efforts to defeat the IS group were "at 99 per cent right now".

Foreign policy has been another area where Republicans have increasingly been willing to distance themselves from the president.

Trump, in excerpts of his address, defended his moves, declaring: "Great nations do not fight endless wars".

Millions of Americans were expected to watch the address on television, giving Trump his biggest opportunity to date to explain why he believes a barrier is needed on the US southern border with Mexico.

Trump is also expected to address several foreign policy issues, such as trade talks with China, pulling United States troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, a diplomatic drive with North Korea and a growing political crisis in Venezuela, among others.

Meanwhile, some White House officials are trying to spin the upcoming speech as positive and unifying. An announcement is expected on a new initiative aimed at ending transmissions of HIV by 2030.

What say you all about the state of our union as President Trump prepares to give his second address to a joint session of Congress?

"Anybody who's sitting there with their arms folded ... looking like they sucked on ... lemons, that's not on him because he's calling for unity, he's calling for working together", White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News of Democratic lawmakers.

The student from DE, who is not related to the president, made news previous year after his parents described how other children would chant his surname on the school bus.

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