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Biden to Tout Wins, Tease 2024 Run in SOTU Address


Two years after vowing to bring normalcy and unity to the nation's capital, President Joe Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address Tuesday before a Congress as divided as ever –- and a skeptical American public.

Midway through his first term and before a Republican House of Representatives, Biden will look to address the nation with his signature tone of optimism, touting a growing economy and hot labor market.

And celebrating a series of bipartisan wins, from a sweeping infrastructure bill to the CHIPS and Science Act and the first gun safety legislation in decades.

Michael Waldman, the former chief speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, who worked on a number of his State of the Union addresses, says historically, presidents have suffered pretty significant midterm defeats, so they've had to address a new, more hostile Congress with a somewhat contrite tone.

"But in Biden's case, the Democrats had the best midterm performance in decades for party power. In a lot of ways, he has the wind at his back," Waldman says.

But he'll deliver his remarks under a cloud of uncertainty as a special counsel investigates his potential mishandling of classified documents.

Add to that a threat of recession still looming and Russia's war in Ukraine still raging --and convincing a weary nation might not be so easy.

A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that only a quarter of American adults believe the country is on the right track.

"There's all kinds of uncertainty right now. There are lots of things to worry about," explains William Howell, a professor of American politics at the University of Chicago. "But we are a lot better with regard to the economy, with regard to the COVID pandemic, with regard to our standing in the world," he adds.

So he says expect the president to sympathize with the nation's angst, while shining a spotlight on both his successes and the challenges that remain, from addressing the nation's debt ceiling, to supporting Ukraine and pushing back against and increasingly aggressive China.

Biden will use the speech to renew his call for political unity -- while at the same time look to cement his appeal to wavering Democrats ahead of the expected announcement of his re-election bid.

"He's the oldest president we've had. And how does he do just in this setting? He's got to show command of this podium. That's the most important thing he can do in terms of his potential presidential run," says Waldman.

"It's about both establishing his big "D" Democratic credentials while also presenting himself as a statesman," adds Howell.

Biden will deliver his address in front of the parents of Tyre Nichols, who died after a beating from Memphis police officers during a traffic stop last month.

Nichols' parents were invited to attend address as guests of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In the end, Howell says while a strong speech could be helpful to Biden, State of the Union addresses don't have a long history of moving the political needle.

"There are gonna be moments that might be poignant," Howell says. "But this isn't something that school children are going to be re-reading in decades to come."