President Trump’s joint address to Congress on Tuesday night is expected to strike an optimistic tone as he outlines how he plans to begin a “renewal of the American spirit” with his economic goals and priorities.
According to senior administration officials who previewed the speech to reporters, that’s the theme the president will use to lay out his vision for the American people and explain how his administration will begin solving real problems for real people. He’ll tell members of Congress that Americans have been waiting on help from political leaders for too long, but that now help is on the way.
For Trump, the speech to a joint session of the Senate and House is a chance to reset what has been a tumultuous first month in office. He’s been beset with backlash to his immigration and travel ban, struggles to come up with a replacement health care plan if Obamacare is repealed, turnover with his national security adviser and repeated questions about his administration’s alleged ties to Russia.
According to the White House, as of Monday evening the president was still working with speechwriters to finish crafting the speech. And while it’s the same group of writers who helped write his inaugural address — which struck a dark tone as he promised to stop “American carnage” — this new speech just over a month later is the product of listening sessions and meetings he has been holding with health care professionals, law enforcement, union representatives, coal miners and others.
Still, the speech will focus on the two cornerstones of Trump’s campaign and much of his nascent presidency so far — growing economic opportunity and protecting the American people.
In an interview that aired this morning on Fox News, Trump blamed messaging problems for his rocky first month in office. “I think I get an A in terms of what I’ve actually done, but in terms of messaging, I’d give myself a C or a C+.”
He also said he expects a “revved up” economy will pay for the $54 billion dollar increase he’s proposing in defense spending. “I mean you look at the kind of numbers we’re doing, we were probably GDP of a little more than 1 percent and if I can get that up to 3 or maybe more, we have a whole different ball game. It’s a whole different ball game.”
The Commerce Department puts the GDP at 1.6% for 2016.
Senior administration officials described Tuesday’s speech as an optimistic look forward to what Trump hopes to accomplish in office. He’ll also run down the promises he made to the American people and argue for what he has kept so far, pointing to his executive orders and memos.
National security and foreign policy will also be a key component of the speech. After his travel ban against several Muslim-majority countries was halted by a federal court, Trump is expected to issue another executive order this week with more detail and direction that would not impact green card holders.
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