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Came Out Swinging

WATCH: The key moments of Joe Biden's State of the Union address

Biden spoke for more than an hour last night on issues like Gaza, Ukraine, reproductive rights, and the economy, taking plenty of swipes at opponent Donald Trump.

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden gave his annual State of the Union address last night in what was his final guaranteed SOTU in his fourth year as president, but that he will hope will not be his last as he vies for re-election in November.

Biden spoke for more than an hour in a speech that was largely absent of any of the stumblings that eagle-eyed Donald Trump supporters would be keen to use as ammunition against the incumbent.

Remarks on humanitarian aid for Gaza were welcomed by Democrats present in the House of Congress, but, in a speech peppered with support for Israel, may not have gone far enough to draw disillusioned members of the party back to Biden.

Welcomed by applause, Biden started his speech: “Good evening. If I was smart, I’d go home now.”

Trump ‘bowing down’ to Russia

From the outset of the address, Biden was quick to launch an attack on opponent Donald Trump.

“In January 1941, Franklin Roosevelt came to this chamber to speak to the nation and he said, ‘I address you in a moment unprecedented in the history of the union’,” Biden said. “Freedom and democracy were under assault in the world. Tonight, I come to the same chamber to address the nation. Now it’s we who face an unprecedented moment in the history of the Union.”

“We’re under attack both at home and overseas at the very same time. Overseas, Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond. If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you he will not.

“It wasn’t long ago when a Republican president named Ronald Reagan thundered Mr Gorbachev, ‘tear down this wall’. Now, my predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, quote, ‘do whatever the hell you want’,” Biden said, referencing comments Trump made about whether or not he would defend Nato allies.

“A former president actually said that, bowing down to a Russian leader. I think it’s outrageous. It’s dangerous and it’s unacceptable.”


The most significant new information to come from the address was that the US military intends to establish a port off Gaza to deliver aid.

“Tonight, I’m directing the US military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water medicine and temporary shelters,” Biden said.

He said that “a temporary pier will enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting in Gaza”.

The operation will be led by the US military but will not put US troops on the ground in Gaza, he said.

Biden reiterated his stance in support of Israel and condemned Hamas’ attacks on 7 October, but said the number of Palestinians killed and suffering in Gaza is “heartbreaking”.

Reproductive rights

In the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade in 2022, and a more recent court decision in Alabama that has majorly disrupted access to IVF, Biden said reproductive freedoms will be a key issue in the November election.

As is customary, First Lady Dr Jill Biden invited a number of guests to join her to to watch the address, two of whom are involved in campaigning for reproductive rights.

Biden made reference to their stories. One guest was Kate Cox, a mother from Texas who sued last year for the right to an abortion but was forced to travel out of the state for an emergency termination of her nonviable pregnancy.

Another was Latorya Beasley, a mother from Alabama who was trying to have a second child with IVF but was suddenly forced to stop the process when the state’s Supreme Court ruled last month that frozen embryos should be considered children.

“Look at the chaos that has resulted [from the overturning of Roe v Wade],” Biden said. 

Economy and jobs

Biden called the state of the US economy the “greatest comeback story never told”.

“I inherited an economy that was on the brink,” he said, adding that he believed it was now “the envy of the world”.

He outlined investments in American industries – adding in a swipe at Trump for, he said, failing to buy American. 

Additional reporting by Sadbh Cox and AFP

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