Ahead of State of Union Address, President Biden balances focus on past and future

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
SOTU: Biden balances focus on past and future
President Biden Balances Focus on Past and Future ahead of address

Fresh off a string of strong economic reports, President Biden is preparing Tuesday night's State of the Union address.

"This is not Joe Biden's speech where he's announcing his re-election, but I think it can very much be seen part of what I presume will be his reelection campaign. And in that sense too, it is important that he look strong, and on top of his game," said NC State Political Science Professor Dr. Steven Greene.

Despite national unemployment hitting its lowest-level since 1969, in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, 60% of people says Biden has not made progress "creating more good jobs in (the) community." It's part of a string of low marks facing the President, ranging from handling of infrastructure improvements to efforts lower costs for electric vehicles and prescription medication, all of which legislation has been signed into law during his term.

"We've got to educate the people on these legislative initiatives and show them how it will impact better jobs, better income, and better quality of life," said Dr. Bobbi Richardson, who serves as the North Carolina Democratic Party Chair.

Richardson said getting that message across is key ahead of the 2024 election.

"The American Rescue Plan, the Inflation Reduction Plan, the bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, lowering costs for subscription plans and student loans. North Carolinians are seeing more progress and he's going to talk about this - on broadband access, infrastructure projects," Richardson said.

Republicans, who despite underperforming compared to most analyst projections in the midterms, were able to win back the House, as they gear up for a stronger showing in 2024.

"I'm interested to see if (President Biden is) going to talk about national security, the southern border, crime, fentanyl. Is he going to really address any of those issues hitting American families and the economic crisis that we're in. Six, seven, eight dollars for a dozen eggs, supply chain crisis that we're still facing," said Michele Woodhouse, who ran for Congress in the state's 11th District and founded the Leading from the Front PAC.

Woodhouse is interested to see how Biden splits his attention both Tuesday night and the remainder of his term.

"President Biden's going to have to make a decision - does he make it about him and Donald Trump when we don't even know if Donald Trump is going to be the nominee on the Republican side, or does he deliver a message that can bring people from the left and right and try to win in that middle part," said Woodhouse.

While just 31% of people felt more confident in President Biden's leadership, the mark still compares favorably compared to Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (19%), Democrats in Congress (28%) and Republicans in Congress (25%).

"As a number of people have commented, what he does so well is figures out where the middle of the Democratic party is, not the electorate, but the Democratic party, and plants himself there. And I don't see any reason to think that he's going to move particularly far right or left, but really mostly look at an opportunity to make some stark contrast with the Republicans where he feels that his policies really are more popular," said Greene.

Greene anticipates Biden to discuss the debt ceiling, an issue which 65% of Americans aligned with his view that debt payment and federal spending should be handled separately.

"I think with the fight over the debt ceiling kind of already underway, a likely government shutdown later this year, I think he's going to put his marker down publicly about how he plans to approach this and what he expects to happen," said Greene.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as press secretary under President Trump, is set to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union address.

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