2020 State of the Union: Trump plans optimistic address

NOTE: The State of the Union will begin at 9pm EST on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.

(by Morgan Chalfant, The Hill) – President Trump’s third State of the Union address on Tuesday will put forth a vision of “relentless optimism” that focuses on addressing issues affecting America’s working families, a senior administration official told reporters Friday.

“The theme of the State of the Union is the great American comeback,” the senior administration official said. “In his address, the president will lay out a vision of relentless optimism.”

“He will encourage Congress to work with him to continue building an inclusive economy where the least well-off are making some of the fastest gains and where people of every background are finding new opportunities,” the official said.

Trump’s address to the joint session of Congress on Feb. 4 comes at a time of high tensions between the president and Democratic lawmakers.

When the president heads to Capitol Hill, the Republican-controlled Senate will be on the verge of acquitting the president of the impeachment articles brought against him by the Democratic-controlled House. It’s unclear whether or how the vote will impact what he plans to say.

The official on Friday declined to say whether Trump planned to address impeachment at all, further emphasizing that the speech would strike an “optimistic” tone and urge Congress to take action on legislative actions related to health care and other areas.

The official spoke to reporters before the Senate passed a resolution Friday evening paving the way for a vote on the impeachment verdict next Wednesday. …

The senior administration official said that the central focal points of the speech would be U.S. economic gains as well as the Trump administration’s policies with respect to health care, immigration and national security. …

The president is likely to tout his “phase one” trade agreement with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) he signed into law this week as well as efforts to secure the U.S. southern border with Mexico and crack down on sanctuary cities. He is also expected to highlight his health care policies while contrasting his plans with proposals put forth by Democrats.

Trump plans to [describe how] his administration’s efforts to cut taxes, roll back regulations and secure new trade agreements [have] boosted the domestic economy.

The president intends to “put forward an agenda focused squarely on the needs of working families, addressing issues that affect Americans’ quality of life and laying out solutions with can-do optimism in the face of unjustified pessimism we are hearing from some in Congress,” the senior administration official said.

Published at thehill .com on January 31, 2020. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from The Hill. Updated: 8:40 p.m.


NOTE to students:  Read the information under “Background” below before answering the questions. 

1. a) What is the State of the Union address? What is the purpose of the address?
b) When and where is the State of the Union given?

2. What will be the theme of President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night?

3. What will the president ask Congress to do?

4. a) What did the senior administration official tell reporters the tone of President Trump’s speech will be?
b) After watching the speech, what do you think? Was that the president’s tone? Explain your answer.

5. a) What policies and accomplishments is the president likely to note in his address?
b) Why should the president talk about his accomplishments in his address to the nation?

6. As every president’s does, President Trump’s address will focus on multiple issues. Which of the following do you think are most important for the president to include in his State of the Union address tonight? Explain your answer.
a) the economy/the historic job growth & record low unemployment
b) tax reform
c) national security and terrorism
d) illegal immigration crisis/building a wall on our southern border
e) healthcare
f) gun rights / protecting 2nd Amendment / gun policies
g) China tariffs and a fair trade deal; China theft of intellectual property
h) infrastructure
i) education
j) the homeless crisis
k) the federal budget deficit
l) Democrat proposed programs of free college, free healthcare, (and in Andrew Yang’s case free money) for all people living in the U.S., and increasing taxes on “the rich” to 70-90%
m) climate change
n) other (explain)

7. Ask a parent what issues he/she thinks President Trump should focus on in his State of the Union, and to explain his/her answer.

8. Overall, what did you think of the president’s State of the Union address? (Do you think Trump supporters all thought it was great and those who don’t like the president thought it was terrible?)
Opinion question. Answers vary.


  • For the text and video of the 2020 State of the Union address, go to the White House youtube page, or c-span.org.)
  • Read the text of the President’s address at WhiteHouse.gov.
  • Watch the State of the Union address and answer the following questions: (NOTE: All links will be enabled when they are available – some after the SOTU.)

1.  Tone is the attitude a speaker takes towards a subject. What was the tone of President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address?

2. What was the overall theme of the president’s speech?

3.  a) What major points did President Trump make about the economy in his address to the nation?
b) What is your reaction to these encouraging statistics?
c) Ask a parent the same question.

4. List some of the things the President promised to do to on trade.

5.  What new initiatives did President Trump propose in his State of the Union?

6.  Which issues did the President bypass altogether, or just mention briefly?

7.  What issue presented by President Trump was the most important to you?  Did any aspect of the speech disappoint you?  Explain your answers.

8. a) Do you think the President is focusing on the correct issues? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.

9. The response speech is shorter and often given as a rebuttal to the opposition party’s ideas and plans. This practice began once television became a major part of politics.  Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar (El Paso) will give the 2020 SOTU response in both English and Spanish. Watch/read the Democratic response to the President’s State of the Union on live TV following the President’s SOTU or at c-span.org.
What do you think of Gov. Whitmer and Rep. Escobar’s response?


The annual State of the Union Address is a time for a president to lay out his agenda for the nation.

“The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”  US Constitution Article II, Section 3

  • The State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda (for which he needs the cooperation of Congress) and his national priorities.
  • By tradition, the President makes this report annually.
  • While not required to deliver a speech, every president since Woodrow Wilson has made the State of the Union report as a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress. Before that time, most presidents delivered the State of the Union as a written report.
  • Since Wilson, the State of the Union is given typically each January (or early February) before a joint session of the United States Congress and is held in the House of Representatives chamber of the United States Capitol.
  • George Washington gave the first state of the union address on January 8, 1790 at the Federal Hall in New York City.
  • Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president, did not continue this practice. In 1801, Jefferson detailed his priorities and sent written copies of his message to each house of Congress. Jefferson “was concerned that the practice of appearing before the representatives of the people was too similar to the British monarch’s ritual of addressing the opening of each new Parliament with a list of policy mandates, rather than ‘recommendations.’”
  • For the next 112 years, the President’s annual message was written, not spoken.
  • In the 20th Century, the oral address was revived, first with Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Like Washington, he spoke to both Houses of Congress.
  • Ten years later, in 1923, Calvin Coolidge broadcast his address on radio to the entire nation.
  • Franklin D Roosevelt called the speech the “State of the Union” in 1935.
  • In 1947, Harry Truman, FDR’s vice president – who succeeded him as President, was the first to broadcast his State of the Union address on television.
  • Since 1966, the State of the Union address has been followed by a response from a member of the opposition party.
  • Since President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union addresses, some of the President’s personal guests in the House Gallery have been publicly recognized in the course of the address.


  • To read pro-Trump and anti-Trump perspectives, go to a website that links to op-eds from both perspectives: RealClearPolitics.
  • Liberals/progressives stand in strong opposition to every proposal/policy President Trump makes. For a liberal perspective of President Trump’s speech, go to the liberal website TheNation.com  
  • Conservatives generally support the President’s policies.  Although in President Trump’s case, several traditional consevative websites like National Review have been opposed to him personally as well as his policies on several important issues. These conservatives are known as “never-Trumpers” Fox News is known as the “conservative” news station. However, Shep Smith, John Roberts and Bill Hemmer appear to hold him in disdain. They ususally oppose/question any policy Trump attempts to implement. For a conservative perspective of President Trump’s speech, read a commentary by Michael Goodwin or Mark Steyn or listen to conservative radio talkshow hosts Rush Limbaugh or Mark Simone.
  • It is customary for the opposing party to respond to a President’s State of the Union address. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar (El Paso) will give the 2020 Democratic SOTU response in both English and Spanish. Watch Gov. Whitmer and Rep. Escobar’s response at c-span.org.
  • For texts and/or videos of Presidential State of the Union Addresses since 1945, go to c-span.org/SOTU.
  • Watch or read President Trump’s entire speech at whitehouse.gov/sotu  or c-span.org
  • Who were President Trump’s special guests for the State of the Union? Read about each guest here.
    NOTE: All links will be enabled when they are available – some after the SOTU.
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