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With Pitch for Unity, President Trump Urges Republicans and Democrats to ‘Choose Greatness’

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“President Trump in his State of the Union address Tuesday night issued a call for unity and an end to the political divisiveness that has ensnared Washington,” Melissa Quinn reports for the Washington Examiner.

During the speech—with its theme of “choosing greatness”—President Trump laid out five priorities that should unite both parties in Washington: “American jobs and fair trade, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, reducing the price of healthcare and prescription drugs, creating a safe and lawful immigration system, and pursuing a foreign policy agenda that ‘puts America’s interests first.’”

“There is a new opportunity in American politics if only we have the courage together to seize it,” Trump said. “Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.”

The president struck notes of unity and bipartisanship with his speech, which marked the third address he has delivered before a joint session of Congress and lasted 82 minutes. During the remarks, he urged lawmakers in attendance to put aside their differences and reject gridlock.

“We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before,” the president said. “But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution — and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.”

Trump used his address to tout the accomplishments of his first two years in office, including the passage of tax reform in 2017 and the addition of more than 5 million new jobs to the economy. He also noted the legislative achievements of the last Congress, including reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the farm bill, and criminal justice reform.

Trump’s comments about the economic gains particularly benefiting women earned the him a standing ovation and chants of “USA, USA” from lawmakers led by female members, including Democrats.

“Don’t sit yet. You’re going to like this,” he joked. “And exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time.”

But the president took aim at the ongoing investigations on Capitol Hill, including those focused on his administration and presidential campaign. Those probes are expected to ramp up this Congress, with Democrats now controlling the House and gaining subpoena power.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.”

Casting a shadow over the State of the Union is the ongoing fight over funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and efforts to avert a second government shutdown. Trump continued to push for Congress to quickly pass legislation that will fund a slew of government agencies, for which funding will lapse Feb. 15, and secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is a moral issue,” the president said of border security. “The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws.”

Trump added, “Simply put, walls work and walls save lives. So let’s work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe.”

Three-quarters approve of Trump speech: polls

Three-quarters approve of Trump speech: polls

In The Hill, Tal Axelrod reports that roughly three-quarters of American voters approved of President Trump’s State of the Union address, according to CNN and CBS News polls. “Seventy six percent approved of the speech in the CBS poll, with 24 percent saying they disapproved,About 59 percent of respondents to the CNN poll had a very positive reaction to the speech, while 17 percent said they had a somewhat positive reaction. Roughly one-quarter — 23 percent — had a negative reaction in that survey.” Axelrod writes. But the telling stat: CBS found that “about 82 percent of independents in that survey who watched the speech liked what they heard.”

About 87 percent of Republicans told CNN they had a very positive reaction to the speech, while 64 percent of Democrats had a very or somewhat negative response.

Trump Tuesday night hopscotched between calling for bipartisanship and national unity and doubling down on hot-button issues such as immigration and abortion.

“I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans,” Trump said, adding later that “countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.”

Only a third, 33 percent, of respondents, however, told CBS they believed Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will work together more after the speech, while 63 percent said there would not be much change in their working relationship.

The CBS News survey polled 1,472 adults who watched the State of the Union address and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The CNN poll surveyed 584 adults who watched the State of the Union address and has a margin of error of 5.4 percentage points.

Trump goes big, uses delayed State of the Union to make case on border, much more

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“The speech was big, not just in length — about 80 minutes — but also in concept. It had a structure. It had a message. It had passages to appeal to all Americans. It had passages to appeal to Trump’s conservative base. And it had passages to appeal to opposition Democrats,” Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner. “He delivered a big, broad, far-ranging statement of his approach to the presidency and to the country.”

The strongest part of Trump’s speech that appealed to all Americans came after his “choose greatness” introduction, when he walked through recent progress in the American economy. “In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before,” Trump said. Then the details: 5.3 million new jobs; 600,000 manufacturing jobs; rising wages; Americans off food stamps; low unemployment; low minority unemployment; low unemployment for disabled Americans; more people working (157 million); lower taxes; an increased child tax credit; soaring energy production; deregulation, and more.

At times Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sitting behind the president, didn’t quite seem to know what to do. “Pelosi’s face during Trump’s comments about job growth could not have been more strained,” tweeted Miranda Green, a reporter for The Hill. Indeed, Democrats didn’t have much to say in response to Trump’s economic record. They could quibble with the numbers — maybe it’s really 4.9 million new jobs instead of 5.3 million, or maybe Trump was taking credit for President Barack Obama’s accomplishments — but the fact is, Trump had a strong case to make for the performance of the economy during his presidency, and he made it the first part of his speech.

GUILFOYLE: PRESIDENT TRUMP’S STATE OF THE UNION WAS A GRAND SLAM

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“The president also took time to highlight a few of the many incredible achievements under his administration” in last night’s State of the Union, Kimberly Guilfoyle writes in The Daily Caller. “Record-low unemployment rates for African Americans, Hispanics, and women. Rising wages and tax cuts for working-class families. A historic bipartisan criminal justice reform bill to give non-violent offenders a second chance.”

Still, the speech stuck out because it challenged us as a nation to go even further.

It challenged us to live up to our core values and advance bipartisan policies that give every American a chance to live the American Dream. To be sure, the speech was not only a vision, but a realistic blueprint to achieve that vision.

Unsurprisingly, the president highlighted trade policy as a necessary first step to better the lives of all Americans.

For too long, our trade agreements have put the interests of big corporations and foreign powers above those of the American people. Those types of agreements must become a thing of the past. Trade should always be fair, free, and put the interests of American workers first.

Congress should follow President Trump’s lead and vote to pass his historic new trade deal between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.  The agreement, known as the USMCA, would help bring manufacturing jobs back to America by revitalizing the automotive industry. Farmers would be better off too, thanks to the deal opening up new markets for their exports.

President Trump also called for common-sense fixes to our broken immigration system. Our current open borders system benefits political elites at the expense of everyday Americans. To that end, the status quo is immoral, unfair, and unjust.

That’s why the president called for a feasible solution: building a border wall. A wall on the southern border would uphold the rule of law, halt the flow of dangerous narcotics, and protect families from criminal aliens.

The president also believes that in order to fully ensure our safety and quality of life, we must invest in world-class infrastructure. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineer’s rated our infrastructure a D+ grade in a 2017 report.

Congress breaks out into Happy Birthday for Holocaust survivor

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“Members of Congress broke out into a spirited singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ for a guest of President Trump’s State of the Union who survived both the Holocaust and the anti-Semitic mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue,” Tamar Lapin reports in the New York Post.

Judah Samet turned 81 Tuesday as he was honored at Trump’s address to the nation for his incredible stories of survival.

Samet, who survived 10 months in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II also narrowly escaped the October 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, in which 11 people were killed.

“He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began, but not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall, more than seven decades ago he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps,” Trump said during his speech.

“Today is Judah’s 81st birthday,” Trump continued, as the crowd cheered and began to sing “Happy Birthday.”

After the song, Samet thanked the well-wishers and Trump quipped: “They wouldn’t do that for me, Judah” to laughs.

President Trump also honored three veterans who served in World War II: Private First Class Joseph Reilly, Staff Sergeant Irving Locker, and Sergeant Herman Zeitchik.

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