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Biden Throws Punches At Trump In Combative State Of The Union

In a raucous and combative State of the Union address on Thursday, President Joe Biden repeatedly aimed at his likely 2024 election opponent, Donald Trump, in one of the most partisan speeches of its kind in recent memory.

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Biden used the term “my predecessor” to refer to Trump no less than 13 times during his hour-long speech, accusing the former president of “bowing down” to Russia, criticizing his handling of the Capitol riot, and blaming him for the overturning of Roe v. Wade among other attacks.

The atmosphere in the House chamber was more akin to a political convention than the typically ceremonial annual presidential address to Congress. Democrats loudly cheered Biden’s rhetorical broadsides against Trump, while some Republicans audibly heckled the president.

Drawing Battle Lines for 2024

With Biden all but certain to seek re-election, the combative tone drew clear battle lines for the looming 2024 campaign against his former rival Trump, who is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination despite his mounting legal woes.

“My predecessor failed the most basic duty any president owes the American people – the duty to care,” Biden charged, referring to Trump’s pandemic response as “unforgivable.”

He accused Trump of seeking to “bury the truth” about the January 6th insurrection and blamed him for blocking bipartisan immigration reform efforts.

For his part, Trump fired back in real-time on his Truth Social platform, claiming Biden was “on the run from his record and lying like crazy.”

Selling His Record to Voters

When not attacking Trump, Biden sought to tout his administration’s economic and policy achievements as part of an early sales pitch to voters ahead of his expected re-election campaign.

“I inherited an economy that was on the brink,” he claimed, “and now our economy is the envy of the world” – despite many Americans’ negative perception of the economy.

Biden pitched an array of new proposals, such as tax credits for home buyers, caps on drug costs, and corporate tax hikes, though most would require unlikely Congressional approval.

Navigating the Gaza Crisis

Biden opened his speech on foreign policy by reinforcing support for Ukraine against Russian aggression. But he devoted significant attention to the raging crisis between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

While condemning Palestinian rocket attacks, Biden said the mounting civilian casualties in Gaza were “heartbreaking” and Israel had a “fundamental responsibility to protect innocent lives.”

He outlined a new temporary U.S. plan to construct a seaport in Gaza to allow humanitarian aid shipments – a move aimed at quelling criticism from his party’s progressive wing that has been demanding more muscular intervention to halt the violence.

A Feisty Performance

Overall, the combative 80-year-old president seemed intent on confronting head-on doubts about his age and political viability with an aggressive performance filled with ad-libbed quips and parries with the Republican side of the chamber.

Even when addressing his advanced years, Biden couldn’t resist a jab at the 77-year-old Trump: “I know it may not look like it, but I’ve been around for a while…Some other people my age see a different story: an American story of resentment, revenge and retribution.”

While the partisan brawl may have rallied Biden’s base, it remains to be seen if the high-decibel approach can sway the moderate voters who typically decide presidential elections. But the speech signalled, at minimum, that after a shaky start, Biden seems prepared to wage a fierce re-election battle against his equally combative predecessor.

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