Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address could signal his 2024 re-election campaign: NPR
President Biden will head to the United States Capitol Tuesday night to deliver his 2023 State of the Union address. But his message — and his performance — will be closely watched for what they say about 2024 and what is expected to be his second presidential run. .
Biden has yet to formally announce whether he has decided to go through with what he has said is his intention to seek a second term. But it should do so in the near future. The State of the Union address and its wide broadcast audience is an opportunity to show what he plans to run on – and that he has what it takes for a grueling race for re-election as a oldest presidential candidate in history.
“This speech is definitely seen at the White House as part of the re-election effort,” said Peter Wehner, who has written speeches for former President George W. Bush. “And what that means is kind of a speech that starts to map out a re-election campaign.”
Biden should contrast Republicans
The presidents of both parties have used this annual speech to set out their platform and express – sometimes indirectly – how that platform differs from that of the opposition.
“The State of the Union at its best is often an eloquent laundry list, but it’s also political speeches,” said Michael Waldman, senior writer for four former State of the Union speeches. President Bill Clinton.
“And it’s a very political season and people are already running for president … and so you’re going to hear, I’m sure, a contrast between Democrats and Republicans playing out on screen in this speech,” Waldman said.
It will be Biden’s first speech to a Congress where Republicans now control the House of Representatives and give him the ability to articulate an agenda that draws battle lines with the Republican Party — particularly on the debt ceiling showdown. .
But former presidential speechwriters say there is a careful balance to be struck.
“You’re speaking to an audience that includes the opposition party as well as your own, and you don’t want, as president, to come across as mean-spirited or divisive,” Wehner said.
Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Clinton took a similar opportunity to answer questions about his eligibility
In her 1995 State of the Union, Clinton faced a newly elected Republican Congress after the 1994 midterm Republican Revolution, in which the GOP took control of the House for the first time in 40 years. .
Pundits had interpreted the midterm elections as a clear rebuke to Clinton, and people wondered if he had a political future.
But Clinton found an opportunity in this moment of political peril, her former speechwriters said. He tried to use the charm to show he could reach the other side of the aisle.
“Bill Clinton, he always reached out,” said Carolyn Curiel, one of his speechwriters. “There’s no one he didn’t want to befriend, even those who had hurt him in politics and otherwise. And if he went on stage with bad feelings, he let them go. Because that you need as many people in as much space as possible to think, ‘He’s not a villain. Maybe I can work with him.'”
But that speech wasn’t just about convincing the politicians in the room that Clinton had a political future: it was also about answering lingering questions from the public after that midterm bombing.
“He reminded people what they loved about his politics and him,” Waldman said. “What people wanted to see from him was that he was still on his feet…part of what Clinton had to do in that speech was to show that he still had his good humor.”
Democrats didn’t face a huge political rebuke last November — they did better than expected midterm.
Biden faces another lingering question — his age, several former speechwriters, Republicans and Democrats, have said.
“He would be 86 when the second term ends. That’s a question that’s going to be on people’s minds,” Waldman said. “And he will want to use this forum to show that he is vigorous, that he commands.”
Nicolas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images
Biden will try to show that life and politics can return to normal
There are certain traditions in every state in the Union — the platitudes, calls to end partisanship, overtures to work across the aisle — and the ritual of graciously greeting the newly elected Speaker of the House. elected.
“Biden believes in the rituals of democracy,” Waldman said. State of the Union formalities are part of this.
“It’s important in Biden’s longer-term project to be both normal and to somehow restore the soul of the country, as he puts it, by reconnecting people to their kind of civic rituals,” said he declared.
Biden, like his predecessors, will likely talk about trying to find unity, but there are limits to working across parties in what has become a hyperpartisan climate, said Cody Keenan, the former president’s speechwriter. Barak Obama.
The new Republican majority in the House has made clear its intention to conduct multiple investigations into the Biden administration. The discovery of classified documents in Biden’s personal files adds to the tensions.
Still, Keenan said Biden’s speech has an important function: It can challenge Republicans to oppose potentially popular policy ideas, while articulating a future agenda for Democrats.
“It’s his biggest audience of the year to lay down a marker so people really know what’s at stake,” Keenan said.