Washington: Although the US economy is booming and President Joe Biden is upbeat, his State of the Union address on Tuesday will be overshadowed by harrowing elections and the country's collective panic over a mysterious Chinese balloon.
As they mingled with the president at his Camp David retreat in the rural hills of Maryland over the weekend in preparation for his Monday flight to Washington, the Democrat Party's speechwriters undoubtedly had their work cut out for them.
A photo that Biden shared on Twitter showed a binder with the speech, a coffee mug and biscuits. He said, "Getting ready."
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Biden told reporters upon his return to the White House, "I want to talk to the American people and keep them up to date on the state of affairs — what's going on, what I'm looking forward to working on."
However, the dramatic shooting down of a massive Chinese balloon by US Air Force fighter jets on Saturday has cast a shadow over the Biden administration over the dangerous destabilization of relations with the communist superpower.
Additionally, as two polls released Sunday and Monday show, only half of Democrats support Joe Biden's 80th presidential bid in 2024.
Or, to put it another way, his own sunny nature, exemplified by a recurring refrain about never being "more optimistic" about the nation, simply isn't resonant.
The speech that will be delivered before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, nearly the entire senior leadership of the government and a large television audience was practically written last week.
Inflation, which only a few months ago appeared to be a near-existential threat to the Biden administration, continues to decline. Hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer funds have begun pouring into a Biden-era initiative to ramp up high-tech manufacturing and fix infrastructure.
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According to the latest data, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in 50 years on Friday. "Next week, I will report on the state of the union," Biden told reporters in his mini-preview of the so-called SOTU speech. But today, I'm pleased to report that both the Union and our economy are doing well.
Even though Biden has not formally announced his bid for the presidency in 2024, it is expected that the SOTU, after two campaign-like trips to Wisconsin and Florida on Wednesday and Thursday, will take him a step in that direction. Will give a big push.
The current question is whether Biden can push hard enough given his age, a lackluster party, fiercely aggressive Republican opponents and increasingly Cold War-like conflicts with Russia and China.
He will have two major benefits: an economy that defies many recession predictions and the influence of being in office, which will allow him to fly on Air Force One this year and the following to promote his achievements.
Even before she faces Donald Trump or any other candidate the Republicans might nominate, the weekend's news revealed who she's up against.
The Chinese balloon was successfully shot down by a fighter jet that Biden ordered into the sky, but the White House is now questioning why the plane, which China claims was studying the weather, was initially let down Why was permission given to find a way out? The entire country is passing directly over highly sensitive military bases.
Additionally, the polls signal a very real danger for Biden: His own party no longer wants him. 37 percent of respondents to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll said they supported Biden's bid for a second term, which would end at age 86.
58 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said the party should find someone else to run for 2024 in an ABC News-Washington Post poll.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged that many voters remain concerned about economic insecurity when asked about the discrepancy between Biden's messaging, macroeconomic data and the apparent widespread discontent among ordinary Americans.
It's a very complicated time, said Jean-Pierre, who also noted that the State of the Union address will be a key moment in a campaign to sway Americans' opinion.
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I believe that during his State of the Union address, he will have an opportunity to speak not only to Congress, but to the American people, to discuss what we've accomplished.