State of the Union: Trump campaigns, boasts of economic gains; Pelosi rips up speech

President Donald Trump delivered his third State of the Union address Tuesday night,...
President Donald Trump delivered his third State of the Union address Tuesday night, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Source: CNN)(GIM)
Published: Feb. 4, 2020 at 7:15 AM EST
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President Donald Trump stood before a Congress and nation sharply divided by impeachment and used his State of the Union address on Tuesday to extol a “Great American Comeback” on his watch. That’s just three years after he took office decrying a land of “American carnage” under his predecessor.

The partisan discord in Washington was on vivid display as the first president to campaign for reelection while facing impeachment vigorously made his case for another term.

Trump declared the nation was “stronger than ever before" but delivered the address on the eve of his likely impeachment acquittal and in the aftermath of the chaotic first votes of the race to replace him.

The first president to run for reelection after being impeached, Trump received a raucously divided welcome to the House of Representatives, with some Republicans chanting “Four More Years” while Democrats stood silently.

He used his prime-time speech to lay out his case for a second term amid suspense about whether he would address the charges against him.

Trump spoke from the House of Representatives on the opposite side of the Capitol from where the Senate the next day is expected to acquit him largely along party lines.

At the start of the address it appeared that Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended her hand to Trump, a gesture amid the divisive impeachment proceedings.

The president was presenting folios to Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence as he arrived for the evening speech when it appears she reached for the shake. At the same time, Trump turned away from her to face the audience of lawmakers gathered for the annual address.

Pelosi gave a look.

Both parties applaud Venezuelan opposition leader

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó helped usher in a rare moment of unity.

Democrats and Republicans applauded Tuesday night as Guaidó stood as Trump called him the legitimate president of the South American nation.

Guaidó is the leader of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela. He was a last-minute surprise invited guest of Trump’s.

The U.S. and more than 50 other nations believe the 2018 reelection of President Nicolás Maduro was illegitimate and say Guaidó should be considered president under the Venezuelan constitution. Trump in his speech called Maduro a “tyrant.”

Rush Limbaugh awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

President Donald Trump announced the award during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. First lady Melania Trump presented the award to Limbaugh. The two sat next to each other in the House visitors’ gallery. A bearded Limbaugh stood and saluted President Trump as the award was announced.

Limbaugh, a staunch Trump supporter, announced Monday that he is battling advanced lung cancer.

Trump said the diagnosis was not good news, but added: “What is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.″

Trump thanked Limbaugh for “decades of tireless devotion to our country” and said the award recognized the millions of people a day Limbaugh speaks to and inspires, as well as his charity work.

Democrats chant at Trump

When President Donald Trump called on Congress during his State of the Union speech to send him legislation to lower prescription drug prices,

House Democrats had a ready response. Democrats chanted, “H.R. 3! H.R. 3!” as they jumped to their feet Tuesday night, holding up three fingers.

That was a reference to the House-passed bill that requires the federal government’s Medicare program to negotiate for lower prices on insulin and other must-have drugs Americans rely on.

The drug price reduction bill was passed by the House in December on a largely party-line vote. It is one of many major bills sitting untouched in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Deployed soldier stuns family

Among the made-for-TV moments in President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech: The military husband of one of Trump’s guests had returned home from deployment and surprised his family.

Amy Williams, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was in attendance Tuesday night with her two young children.

Trump told the crowd that Williams works full time and volunteers helping military families while her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Townsend Williams, is deployed to Afghanistan.

Trump thanked her, then told her he had a surprise: Her husband had returned home.

Sgt. Williams walked down the stairs to greet a shocked Amy Williams. He hugged his children and his wife.

Pelosi rips up speech as Trump finishes address

As soon as President Donald Trump finished his State of the Union address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped her copy in two. Right there, on the dais behind him.

Trump was barely done, turning to greet the crowd of lawmakers Tuesday night, when Pelosi, without a moment’s delay, turned the papers in her hand. And she ripped. And then she took some more pages. And she ripped again.

Asked afterward in the halls of the Capitol why she did it, Pelosi responded: “It was the courteous thing to do.” She added: “It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.”

The White House accused Pelosi of disrespecting Trump’s guests of honor by ripping up the speech.

Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for Trump’s reelection team, responded: “She might as well rip up any plans for attracting independent voters.”

Democratic response focuses on pocketbook issues

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used Democrats’ response to the State of the Union address to swivel from impeachment to working-class voters’ worries.

Whitmer says Democrats are focusing on making health care more affordable and addressing other concerns. She said working-class voters are having trouble paying for transportation, prescription drugs and student loans.

Democrats’ decision to pick Whitmer shows that they are focusing on the Midwest, where Trump won surprising victories in 2016 that helped carry him to the White House.

It also represents an attempt to appeal to women, who have been alienated by Trump’s conservatives stances and whom Democrats are trying to win over.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.