WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Donald Trump will call for optimism and unity in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, using the moment to attempt a reset after two years of bitter partisanship and deeply personal attacks.
But will anyone buy it?
Skepticism will emanate from both sides of the aisle when Trump enters the House chamber for the primetime address to lawmakers and the nation. Democrats, emboldened after the midterm elections and the recent shutdown fight, see little evidence of a president willing to compromise. And even the president’s staunchest allies know that bipartisan rhetoric read off a teleprompter is usually undermined by scorching tweets and unpredictable policy maneuvers.
Still, the fact that Trump’s advisers feel a need to try a different approach is a tacit acknowledgement that the president’s standing is weakened as he begins his third year in office.
The shutdown left some Republicans frustrated over his insistence on a border wall, something they warned him the new Democratic House majority would not bend on. Trump’s approval rating during the shutdown dipped to 34 percent, down from 42 percent a month earlier, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said the president would use his address “to call for an end to the politics of resistance, retribution.”
“He’s calling for cooperation,” she said, adding that Trump will point to examples of where this has happened on his watch. Officials said the president is also expected to highlight infrastructure, trade and prescription drug pricing as areas in which the parties could work together.
But Washington’s most recent debate offered few signs of cooperation between Trump and Democrats. Under pressure from conservative backers, Trump refused to sign a government funding bill that did not include money for his long-sought border wall. With hundreds of thousands of Americans missing paychecks, Trump ultimately agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to allow negotiations on border security to continue.
By JULIE PAC for APNEW
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