President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address will focus on a theme of “building a safe, strong, and proud America,” a senior administration official said Friday.
In a background briefing with reporters, the official described next Tuesday’s speech as optimistic and “unifying.”
Trump will recount the achievements of his first year in office, including stock market records, military successes, and the passage of major tax cut legislation.
“People will be reminded, in some cases surprised, about how much President Trump has accomplished in his first year,” the official said.
The speech will address five major policy areas: jobs, infrastructure, immigration, trade, and national security.
The jobs section will address tax cuts, deregulation, and economic growth—all subjects Trump has spoken of often, most recently on Friday morning at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“I'm here to deliver a simple message: there has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the United States,” Trump said in Davos. “America is open for business, and we are competitive once again. The American economy is by far the largest in the world, and we've just enacted the most significant tax cuts and reform in American history.”
Infrastructure is one area where Americans may hear some significant new details next week. The official would not say if the president’s plan will be formally released before the speech or how much it will resemble an outline that was leaked to the press earlier this week, but Trump will explain “how we’re going to do it light and how we’re going to do it fast.”
Trump said Wednesday that the plan would include $1.7 trillion in federal and local investment over the next ten years, significantly more than the $1 trillion price tag he put on it previously. The leaked plan relies heavily on public-private partnership, but it is unclear where the revenue it requires would come from.
On immigration, Trump will reinforce the proposed framework the White House released Thursday, which would offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants but significantly overhaul the legal immigration system.
“The president cares about American workers, American families, and protecting their opportunities to rise,” the official said of Trump’s approach to the issue.
The framework has already faced heavy criticism from conservatives who say it amounts to amnesty for nearly 2 million people and liberals who say the cuts and changes to legal immigration are an unreasonable demand. The White House proposal also included a $25 billion trust fund to pay for Trump’s long-promised border wall and other security enhancements.
Trump’s comments on trade will be consistent with what he said in Davos Friday and at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam in November. He will call for mutually-beneficial, reciprocal trade agreements, jettisoning past deals he believes were unfair.
“From this day forward, we will compete on a fair and equal basis,” the president told business leaders at the APEC summit. “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”
Trump will also tout his efforts to rebuild the military and return to “a policy of peace through strength.” The national security section of the speech will include some discussion of the nuclear crisis North Korea, likely in the same vein as the address the president delivered before the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea last fall.
“I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship,” Trump said in November. “The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face. North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.”
The State of the Union will be an opportunity for Trump to speak “unfiltered” to a wide national audience for an hour, and the official said the president aims to appeal to all Americans.
“It’s the State of the Union speech, not the state of the Republican Party or the state of my base,” the official said.
Despite recent acrimony in Washington, D.C., a government shutdown last weekend, and the president’s personal attacks on Senate Minority Leader “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer” on Twitter, Trump will be reaching out to work with Democrats in Congress.
“The tone will be one of bipartisanship and it will be very forward-looking,” the official said, noting that infrastructure is an issue the president believes is particularly ripe for support from both parties.
The presence of carefully-chosen guests for the speech often helps reinforce the president’s key points, as relatives of victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants did for Trump’s joint address to Congress last February. Administration officials would not identify anyone Trump has invited this year, but they will include people who benefited from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and someone impacted by the opioid crisis.
Trump and Cabinet officials can also be expected to attend events in the weeks ahead intended to carry forward the speech’s messages, but no details of their travel plans were provided.
Overall, the State of the Union address will reflect Trump’s belief that the country is improving and that all demographics are benefiting from his policies.
“One of the headlines will be, in a new way, that President Trump cares about all Americans,” the senior official said.