In his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden delivered a determined and optimistic message to the American people. He highlighted his legislative and policy achievements and reiterated his stance on China and Ukraine. "Because the soul of this nation is strong because the backbone of this nation is strong because the people of this nation are strong, the state of the union is strong," Biden said. "I'm not new to this place. I stand here tonight — and I've served as long as about any of you have ever served — I have never been more optimistic about the future of America. We have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America, and there is nothing beyond our capacity if we do it together."
The President's speech was delivered to a Congress that has vowed to oppose many of his priorities, led by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who sat stone-faced behind him in the chamber. Despite this, Biden spoke in detail about the issue that matters most to Americans: the economy. "We're building an economy where no one's left behind. Jobs are coming back. Pride is coming back," he said. Biden also called for the debt ceiling to be raised and for Congress to enact his immigration reform plan. On the controversial topic of gun policy, he called for a renewed assault weapons ban and made it clear that he would veto any national abortion ban passed by Congress.
As is customary, the President honored special guests who symbolized important issues. He repeated his vow to support Ukraine against Russia's invasion and honored the parents of Tyre Nichols, who was killed by police in January. Biden used the tragedy to urge Congress to revisit the stalled police reform act. Biden also promoted his Cancer Moonshot program, inviting a young cancer patient, Ava, to watch the address from the White House.
In the Republican Party's rebuttal speech, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders criticized Biden's policies and questioned his fitness for office. "From out-of-control inflation and violent crime to the dangerous border crisis and threat from China, Biden and the Democrats have failed you," she said. This sets up a political and legislative challenge for Biden as he embarks on his next two years in office with the Republicans holding control of the lower house of Congress.
President Biden's speech was well received by analysts, who viewed it as his best speech as President. "It was a strong statement of his record and he made his agenda sound reasonable, moderate, and personal," said Jeremi Suri, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. Despite his detractors questioning his age and vigor, Biden's speech showed the American people that he is determined to move the country forward.