WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump nodded to the stakes for his first official State of the Union address, calling it an "important speech" and previewing bipartisan overtures in his remarks on big items, like immigration.
The speech will cover "a lot of territory," Trump told reporters as he finished swearing in his new Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar. During the remarks, the president said he'll tout the "great success" of the stock market and tax cuts passed at the close of the year, but will also make a push on immigration policies, including DACA.
"For many years," Trump said, lawmakers have "been talking about immigration" but "never get anything done." Now, with him at the helm, he said he's hopeful for action that unites Democrats and Republicans.
"We're going to get something done, we hope bipartisan," Trump said, noting that the reality in Congress for Republicans makes bipartisanship an essential factor, not a wishful one. "The Republicans really don't have the votes to get it done in any other way. So it has to be bipartisan."
TheWhite House released its immigration plan last week, in a bid to re-start stalled negotiations on the topic. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway said Monday the president's actions and negotiations on this topic were a sign of his "openness" to getting a deal done — especially for "Dreamers" who were brought to the U.S. as children and protected from deportation under an Obama-era policy, DACA.
Bipartisanship, she said in aninterview with the Washington Post Monday afternoon, is "the only way to function in this town" but she knocked Democrats for a strategy she described as "obstruct, resist, hold up a stop sign" to President Trump.
Despite her own jabs across the aisle, Conway promised a State of the Union address that's "positive in tone and content" and that Trump will be "forward looking" — seeking the nexus between his accomplishments over the past year and how those achievements have bettered the lives of Americans.
To support the president's push for his agenda on issues such as immigration and border security are guests like Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Freddy Cuevas: parents who lost daughters to violence from the gang MS-13.
Veterans who have battled ISIS, law enforcement officers on the front lines of the opioid crisis, and American workers who benefit from Trump's tax cuts will also be seated with First Lady Melania Trump for the address.
And though senior administration officials previewed what they called an "optimistic speech," it won't be without the brand of tough talk that helped propel Trump to the office in the first place.
Noting once again his belief that "the world has taken advantage of us on trade for many years," Trump promised Monday that his administration would bring any unfair practices to an end. But Tuesday's speech will be light on specifics as to how that might be accomplished, senior administration officials told reporters over the weekend.
The speech, the officials said, would touch on the "broad themes of U.S. engagement in the world" —encompassing trade and global economic systems in the remarks, but not getting into specifics or naming names of countries that Trump feels are abusing their trade relationship with the United States.
More than anything, the White House has indicated that the president's remarks will likely seek to strike a tone of command and stability against the backdrop of a political system that has been reeling since his arrival one year ago. Trump's address will come as investigations into his campaign's contacts with Russia remain ongoing, and a three-day government shutdown is still only barely in the administration's rear-view mirror.
"I hope you enjoy it," Trump said of his speech.