Trump's State of the Union address will offer a 'bipartisan way forward on immigration,' White House official says

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday will be built on the theme of "choosing greatness," a White House official says.
  • Trump will adopt a "unifying, bipartisan, and optimistic tone," the official says.
  • The official declines to say whether the president would declare a national emergency to build a border wall.
President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC.
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President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday will be built on the theme of "choosing greatness," a White House official said Friday about the annual address to the nation.

According to a senior administration official, Trump will say: "Together we can break decades of political stalemates, bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America's future. The decision is ours to make."

The speech will be structured like a traditional State of the Union address and be centered on five subject pillars, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The first will be Trump's "vision for a safe and legal immigration system," said the official, who later added that the president was going to "try and provide a bipartisan way forward on immigration." The official declined to say whether Trump would declare a national emergency if Congress does not appear as though it will reach a bipartisan border security plan that includes wall funding.

The second pillar will involve updating Congress on Trump's "fight to protect American workers who have been hurt by decades of bad trade deals," said the official. This will include calling on Congress to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, a recently signed replacement of the longstanding NAFTA agreement.

The third pillar will address infrastructure projects, and the president will call on Congress to approve "a substantial investment" in rebuilding the nation's crumbling infrastructure.

Fourth, Trump will address lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, the official said, and the president will call on Congress to support his efforts to bring down prices.

Fifth, and finally, the official said, "Trump will update Congress on his diplomatic and military efforts around the world, including his efforts to protect American interests and bring to an end America's endless wars."

The president will seek to strike a "unifying, bipartisan and optimistic tone," said the official. He acknowledged that optimism is not a traditional centerpiece of Trump's speeches, but noted that the State of the Union "is unlike other occasions in the year."

The speech will also include a reminder of "how much the president has accomplished for all Americans, and the broad appeal of the president's agenda," the official said. This ticking off of his accomplishments became a hallmark of Trump's speeches practically as soon as he took office, so its planned inclusion on Tuesday came as little surprise.

The White House would not directly address the specifics of what Trump will say, so as not to get ahead of the president on Tuesday night. But the official said that Trump will mention the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela.

Asked about whether the president could offer a bipartisan vision in the midst of near-historic acrimony between the White House and Democrats in Congress, the official said only that the president would offer "common sense solutions with bipartisan appeal that are doable and practical."

The real question Trump would pose, according to the official, was "are we going to seek common ground, and choose the politics of cooperation and compromise?"

"There's a lot of common ground that's doable and practical," between the president and Congress, the official said.

The White House declined to discuss the speechwriting process, save to say the address will include input from across the government, and would likely be tinkered with up until the very last minute.

Trump's guest list will be released Monday afternoon, the official said, and parts of the speech will acknowledge the guests in the president's box, as is traditional for State of the Union speeches.

Tuesday's speech will be Trump's second formal State of the Union address. He gave a major address to Congress shortly after his inauguration in 2017, but it was not technically a State of the Union address.