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State of the Union: Joe Biden uses speech to condemn Trump and establish second term


The State of the Union speech is one of the biggest pieces of political theater every year.

It’s rooted in a simple requirement in the U.S. Constitution that directs the president to “give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

But in modern times, it’s a televised extravaganza where every detail is carefully scrutinized.

Biden’s age

No president gets a free pass on the world’s biggest stage, but Biden will be watched more carefully than most because of his age. At 81 years old, he’s the oldest commander-in-chief in history, and he would be 86 at the end of a potential second term.

Donald Trump, Biden’s Republican predecessor and likely opponent in this year’s election, is 77. A majority of U.S. adults doubt either of them have the mental capabilities to serve as president, according to a new survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Policy agenda

Keep your ears open for any new policy proposals. The State of the Union is a chance for presidents to lay out their goals and rally Americans to support their plans. For example, Biden used a previous speech to discuss his “unity agenda,” which included expanded healthcare benefits for veterans.

The White House hasn’t disclosed specific proposals that will be in this year’s speech. But he could reference unfinished business from his first term, and he’ll likely press for military assistance for Ukraine to reinforce American leadership overseas.

Fashion statements

Television cameras will pan across the chamber during the State of the Union, so you’ll have a clear view of everyone in the audience too. This is a chance for lawmakers and guests to send a message of their own with their clothing.

Democratic women wore white, the color of the women’s suffrage movement, during Trump’s State of the Union in 2019. In 2022, some lawmakers wore blue and yellow ribbons to show their support for Ukraine. (The country’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, was a guest as well.)

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