WASHINGTON (CBS News) – President Donald Trump will give his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Here are some things that you need to know about one of the biggest political events of the year.
What will Mr. Trump say at the State of the Union?
Hard to say exactly, but in broad strokes, here’s some of what you can expect.
State of the Union addresses are not exactly known for their rhetorical greatness, and are often likened to laundry lists, with the president laying out what he wants before Congress and the American people.
“A state of the union is like a moon launch,” David Frum, a writer for The Atlantic who helped craft speeches for President George W. Bush, told CBS News. “You pull together pieces from all over the government and bolt them together into what is often a kind of formless monster.”
So what will Mr. Trump want? Well, he wants an immigration deal along the lines of the proposal his administration released last week. He some kind of infrastructure deal, which polls well and could have a decent chance of attracting some bipartisan support. He wants an “America first” trade agenda along the lines of what he discussed at last week’s Davos summit. And he wants to reemphasize his plans to “rebuild” the military with new investments.
That will all be mixed together with what’s likely to be a lot of talk about just how well the economy is doing. Even though Mr. Trump’s approval rating remains stubbornly low, the stock market is riding high, and has replaced polling as the president’s preferred measurement of success. Expect the president to take credit for the booming economy, and for him to tout the Republican tax cuts in the process.
How many people will watch it?
Mr. Trump brings up ratings often, and he should be able to take comfort in knowing that tens of millions of people are sure to be watching his State of the Union Tuesday night. His joint address to Congress last year was watched by 47.7 million people, according to Nielsen, which means it had 16.4 million more viewers than President Obama’s last State of the Union address in 2016.
Obama’s first speech to a joint session attracted 52.4 million viewers in 2009, but that number significantly dropped off in his second term, with fewer that 40 million people watching every one of his State of the Union addresses from 2012 on.
How do I watch the State of the Union?
CBSN’s live coverage of President Trump’s first State of the Union address begins at 5:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 30. CBS News will broadcast live, primetime coverage of the address and Democratic response from 9:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on CBS, CBSN and all CBS News platforms.
CBS News will have live coverage starting at from 5:00 p.m. ET. Watch our State of the Union free live stream online and follow along with our live blog of the events. We’ll also be fact-checking Trump’s speech in real time.
Who is giving the Democratic response?
Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a Massachusetts Democrat, will be giving his party’s response to Mr. Trump. The decision to go with Kennedy, a 37-year-old liberal from the most storied family in Democratic politics, signals that the party is looking to tap into the energy of their progressive base ahead of November’s midterms.
Who is boycotting the speech?
Democratic Reps. John Lewis, Earl Blumenauer, Maxine Waters, Pramilla Jayapal, Jan Schakowsky, Albio Spires, Danny Davis, Bobby Rush, and Frederica Wilson have announced they will be boycotting the speech.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will also not be in attendance. Instead, she plans to speak to a group of law students in Rhode Island.
Who is the designated survivor?
We don’t know who it is yet, but a member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet will not be in attendance at Tuesday’s speech. This member of the cabinet will be sequestered in an undisclosed location in order to preserve the line of succession to presidency in the event of a catastrophic attack.