Joe Biden seeks to draw sharp contrast with Donald Trump in State of the Union


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Joe Biden will vow to reject “resentment, revenge and retribution” as he hails America’s “comeback” in the annual speech to Congress on Thursday night and lays out the battle lines for his election fight against Donald Trump.

According to excerpts of Biden’s State of the Union address released by the White House, the president will say he embraces “freedom and democracy” and “core values” including “to “respect everyone and “give hate no safe harbour”.

“Some other people my age see a different story: an American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That’s not me,” the US president will say in a thinly-veiled swipe at his likely Republican rival in November’s presidential election. While Biden is 81, Trump is 77.

The speech marks a high-stakes moment for Biden, who seeks momentum in his re-election bid despite low approval ratings, a backlash against inflation and immigration, and questions about his physical and mental capacity to serve another four years in office.

Biden is also navigating anger on the left of the Democratic party at his support for Israel’s war with Gaza. Protesters calling for a ceasefire demonstrated outside the Capitol building as he arrived to give his speech on Thursday.

But the president is also presiding over a booming economy and strong labour market, following a string of legislative accomplishments designed to boost domestic manufacturing. Biden will tout an “American comeback” that he believes has not been sufficiently told throughout the country.

“I came to office determined to get us through one of the toughest periods in our nation’s history. And we have,” the president will say.

“America’s comeback is building a future of American possibilities, building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up — not the top down, investing in all of America — in all Americans — to make sure everyone has a fair shot and we leave no one behind,” Biden will add.

The remarks to Congress come two days after Biden and Trump secured big victories in their parties’ presidential primary contests, all but ensuring a rematch this November of their 2020 election.

Republicans’ response to Biden’s speech will be delivered by Alabama Senator Katie Britt, and preview some of the party’s electoral attack lines on the president, including criticism of his stewardship of the economy and “diminished” leadership.

“Right now, our commander-in-chief is not in command. The free world deserves better than a dithering and diminished leader. America deserves leaders who recognise that secure borders, stable prices, safe streets, and a strong defence are the cornerstones of a great nation,” she will say, according to excerpts of her remarks.

Trump, who has said he will respond on social media in real time to Biden’s speech, attacked the president earlier on Thursday.

“Biden is on the run from his record and lying like crazy to try to escape accountability for the horrific devastation he and his party have created,” Trump said. “All the while they continue the very policies that are causing this horror show to go. We cannot take it any longer as a country.”

White House officials said Biden would also speak of his plans to increase corporate taxes and limit the cost of prescription drugs — a populist economic message designed to draw a contrast with Trump’s plans to enact new tax cuts if he wins another term in office.

Biden is also trying to channel anger at restrictions on reproductive rights that have been imposed in many conservative-leaning states in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling that overturned a decades-old precedent protecting abortion rights nationally. The president will pledge to enact legislation on the federal level to protect women’s right to end a pregnancy.

“If Americans send me a Congress that supports the right to choose I promise you: I will restore Roe vs Wade as the law of the land again,” he will say.

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