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State of the Union 2024 highlights: Biden talks Trump, democracy and abortion in energetic speech

Biden laid out his vision for the nation in a fiery speech as he heads into another general election campaign against his 2020 opponent.

Highlights from the State of the Union address

  • President Joe Biden delivered an energetic State of the Union address, focusing on abortion rights, threats to democracy and the economy — while sparring with jeering Republicans.
  • He didn’t mention former President Donald Trump by name, but the annual speech carries extra significance in an election year, and his frequent references to and contrasts with his “predecessor” were clear.
  • The speech came just days after Biden and Trump appeared to lock up their respective parties’ nominations, setting them up for a rematch in November. Biden chatted and glad-handed with his supporters and delivered a fiery speech, in essence addressing critics who say he is too old for the job.
  • Biden addressed the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, affirming U.S. support for the former and announcing the construction of a new port in Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to reach the war-torn region.
  • Republican Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama gave the GOP response, criticizing Biden's age and policies while striking a mournful tone, saying the American dream is currently "a nightmare."

Six key takeaways from Biden’s final State of the Union before the 2024 election

Biden delivered the final State of the Union of his first term tonight, a speech packed with 2024 campaign themes and contrasts he plans to highlight in the eight months before Americans decide whether to give him — or Trump — four more years in the White House.

Biden went into the speech with an exceptionally low approval rating of 37%, according to recent NBC News polling. That’s lower than the approval rating of his predecessors Trump in 2020 (46%), Barack Obama in 2012 (48%), George W. Bush in 2004 (54%) and Bill Clinton in 1996 (46%) in January of their re-election bid years.

“The state of our union is strong and getting stronger,” Biden said.

Here are six key takeaways from his speech.

Read the full story here.

Speaker Johnson 'disappointed' in 'hyperpartisan' speech

Speaker Johnson told reporters that Republicans were “disappointed” in the speech, calling it “completely hyperpartisan” and “a campaign speech, and a pretty vitriolic one at that.”

He also acknowledged that some people online were commenting on his facial expressions and said it was difficult to keep a poker face because he disagreed with so much of what Biden said.  

On two notable departures from normal State of the Union procedure: Johnson said on Fox News that he was prepared to introduce the president ahead of the speech but that Biden "jumped the gun.” And he told NBC News that he adjourned the chamber before Biden left because the House was following its procedure to adjourn when the well is empty; Biden stayed long after the speech to chat with members on the floor. “It was no slight to the president at all. He had plenty of time to shake hands,” Johnson said.

Biden supporters in Pennsylvania praise his speech

Frank Mahoney, 33, who is the deputy political director for the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, which endorsed Biden, said it was "awesome ... to hear him talk about unions.”

Mahoney also said Biden had “a little pep in his step.”

“The old-school joke around Biden was there, and it was good to see that he is ready for this election,” Mahoney told NBC News.

Brian Kisielewski, 40, also thought it was a “strong speech.”

“This is a good opportunity for him to lay out what he wants to do and what he wants to say and how he wants to kind of accomplish things,” Kisielewski said. “It’s a good pitch to the American people, and I think he did a really good job.”

Kisielewski, who is an attorney, told NBC News he believes Biden is the best option to “keep our democracy in place.”

‘Wake up’: Biden delivers fiery State of the Union

Alex Seitz-Wald, Gabe Gutierrez and Monica Alba

Biden said he wanted to use his State of the Union to “wake up” Congress, but he was the one who seemed suddenly energized as he sparred with Republican hecklers and repeatedly criticized Trump.

Shaking off lackluster approval ratings and his own party’s anxiety about his political and physical health, Biden, 81, delivered one of the feistiest and most political presidential addresses to Congress in recent memory.

He referred to “my predecessor” 13 times, not saying Trump’s name once but making him a clear focus of his speech; shouted back at firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.; and sarcastically mocked Republican lawmakers.

Read the full story here.

Biden has returned to the White House

The president arrived back at the White House shortly after 11:45 p.m., according to a pool report.

There was a huge crowd on the South Portico to greet Biden when he returned, they cheered as he got out of his vehicle, the report said. It appeared as though he stopped to speak to everyone before heading inside the residence.

 Biden was fully inside the White House as of 11:54 p.m. ET.

State of the Union guest Steven Nikoui arrested for disrupting speech

U.S. Capitol Police confirmed to NBC News that Steven Nikoui, a guest at tonight's State of the Union address, was arrested for disrupting the speech.

"Our officers warned him to stop and when he did not, the man was removed from the House Galleries and was arrested," Capitol Police said. "Disrupting the Congress and demonstrating in the Congressional Buildings is illegal."

Nikoui is still being processed, but will be released "per normal procedure," according to the USCP.

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., invited Nikoui, who is the father of one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the attack on Abbey Gate during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Biden heads back to the White House

Tara Prindiville

The president's motorcade left the Capitol at 11:39 p.m. ET en route to the White House.

Often in ALL CAPS, Trump live posts through the State of the Union

Olympia Sonnier

Like last year, Trump chose to live Truth a play-by-play commentary on the State of the Union address. Even though the platform had technical issues throughout the evening, it did not inhibit Trump and his team from responding to his 2024 rival’s speech in real time.

Some of his posts were timely, starting with a note that Biden was running late (“THEY ARE REALLY LATE, VERY DISRESPECTFUL TO OUR COUNTRY!”) and comments about members of Congress as they appeared on screen, like Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (“Interesting that Romney and Manchin are sitting together, and nobody wants to talk to them. I think they’d make a great No Labels Team!”). When Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., appeared, he posted: "Maxine Waters, very nice woman, even though she’s constantly saying she wants to beat up or kill people on the opposite side of the aisle. lf I ever said that, they would call me an Insurrectionist, and all hell would break out!"

He also reacted to the issues as Biden raised them, including:

Ukraine: "Putin only invaded Ukraine, because he has no respect for Biden. Would have never happened under the Trump Administration, and for four years it didn’t happen!”

NATO: “No, I said NATO has to pay its bills, and if it doesn’t pay its bills, we are not going to protect you. THE MONEY CAME POURING IN! Under other Presidents, NATO was BROKE.”

IVF: "IVF was just approved in Alabama, and the Republicans are totally in support of helping women. We are stronger on IVF than the Democrats!”

Immigration: "His Border Bill is a Disaster, it would let at least 5,000 Migrants in a day, and that is one of the better aspects of it!"

Economy: "INFLATION UNDER BIDEN IS KILLING AMERICA!”

But the policy rebuttals were peppered with personal attacks on Biden, noting his cough ("DON’T SHAKE PEOPLE’S HANDS GOING OUT — HE KEEPS COUGHING INTO HIS RIGHT HAND!") and his appearance, saying Biden looked angry (“He looks so angry when he’s talking, which is a trait of people who know they are ‘losing it.’ The anger and shouting is not helpful to bringing our Country back together!”). He even criticized the camera work by C-SPAN, claiming, “They only show the Democrats clapping! They rarely show the other side of the room — It’s called, THE REPUBLICAN SIDE!”  as well as posting random comments like “TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME!”

For those of us who frequent Truth Social, it was a fairly standard stream-of-consciousness reaction. MAGA Inc., a super PAC supporting Trump, and the Trump campaign also sent out timely emails pointing to his record as president and criticizing Biden’s tenure in the White House that complimented the former president’s live commentary.

Biden campaign responds to outage on Trump's Truth Social

The Biden campaign offered a one-word statement on Trump’s Truth Social “rapid response” to the State of the Union after the site briefly went down: “Sad.”

The statement was accompanied by a screenshot apparently showing Trump's Truth Social page buffering.

Trump congratulates Britt on response

Trump congratulated Britt on her response, arguing she was a "great contrast" to an "angry" president.

"She was compassionate and caring, especially concerning Women and Women’s Issues," Trump said on Truth Social. "Her conversation on Migrant Crime was powerful and insightful. Great job Katie!”

Speaker Johnson says Biden's speech was 'overly partisan'

NBC News asked Speaker Johnson what he thought of Biden’s speech as he was leaving his office tonight. “It was overly partisan," he said.

Biden had a lot more exclamations in tonight's speech!

Biden offered a faster, feistier delivery of the speech at times tonight, often punctuated by exclamation marks. In fact, there were 80 exclamation points in the draft of his remarks that the White House released tonight.

Last year, there were zero.

Biden sets record on time taken exiting the chamber

Katie Primm

While Biden did not set a record for speech length, he did for walking out of the chamber — taking 33 minutes, far surpassing the 20 minutes he took last year.

Biden's 'finally found his voice' on immigration, border state Dem says

Border state Democrats seem satisfied with Biden’s handling of immigration tonight.

“It was amazing to see Biden turn the border issue on Republicans," a border state Democrat said. "We’re never going to win this issue, but it’s about neutralizing it, and he’s finally found his voice because of Republicans' blocking that bill. Watching Democrats stand and Republicans squirm on the border section is just crazy.”

Britt's response concludes

Britt's response ended shortly after 11:10 p.m. ET.

She concluded by saying Americans' future "starts around kitchen tables, just like this," referring to where she was delivering the speech.

Britt talks about her support for IVF

Britt reiterated that she "strongly" supports IVF.

Her remarks come after her home state made national headlines when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos are children, leading IVF providers to suspend services.

Earlier this week, state lawmakers passed a bill to protect IVF providers that discard embryos. The Republican governor, Kay Ivey, signed the measure into law.

Trump says Biden speech was a 'tremendous misrepresentation'

Olympia Sonnier

Trump's end-of-the-night takeaway: Biden lies.

"Whether the Fake News Media likes admitting it or not, there was tremendous misrepresentation and lies in that Speech," Trump wrote on Truth Social. "But the People of our Country get it, and they know that November 5th will be the Most Important Day in our Nation’s History!"

Britt strikes different tone from Republicans' talking points

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

Republicans circulated talking points that Britt's speech was going to be the "Shining City on a Hill" speech, invoking Ronald Reagan's speech about America's being on the rise.

But instead, the speech has been somber, and her tone is mournful. It's not out of sync with the overall Republican message — that Biden is to blame for the woeful state of America. But it is inconsistent with the optimistic tone that Republicans said to expect from Britt tonight.

Britt zeroes in on immigration and crime

Britt said the country that Americans "know and love" appears to be slipping away.

She appeared to be delivering the speech from a kitchen in Montgomery, Alabama.

She said the "true, unvarnished" state of the nation is that families are "hurting," pointing to the southern border. She argued that Biden inherited the "most secure border" but undid Trump's policies.

Britt brought up meeting a victim of sex trafficking near the border. She called Biden's border policies a "disgrace" and pointed to the murder of Laken Riley, allegedly by an undocumented migrant.

"This could have been my daughter," she said. "This could have been yours."

Later, she argued that life was getting "more and more dangerous."

Britt also pointed to crises abroad and U.S.-China tensions. She said it seemed like "ancient history" when presidents faced national security threats with "strength," portraying Biden as a "diminished leader."

Democrat hopes Biden will 'bring that energy' to campaign stop

Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Ga., told Biden she’ll see him Saturday when he goes to Georgia. “I need you to bring that energy that you brought tonight,” she told him.

“I have too much energy, that’s the problem,” he joked back.

Dem Rep. Bowman wishes Biden had been more direct on crisis in Gaza

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., wearing a “ceasefire” pin, says he was glad the president was critical of Israel but wishes Biden had been more direct about the humanitarian conditions in Gaza.

“Yeah, I mean, he was critical of Israel, you know, which is further than I’ve heard other presidents go before. But I wanted to hear personally about the starvation. Because, to me, that’s the most horrific thing to watch happen. Children starving to death; children have starved to death,” Bowman said. "So yes, we’re going to have the port that we’re bringing there, which will bring a lot of humanitarian aid, but, you know, we need an immediate cease-fire now and trucks to come in right now, to stop the starvation right now. Like today.”

Man who yelled 'Who says?' at Biden was questioning Palestinian death toll

Radio personality Sid Rosenberg was escorted from the House chamber during the State of the Union after shouting "Who says?" at Biden after the president cited the death toll of Palestinians in Gaza.

Rosenberg told NBC News after the speech that he does not believe the Palestinian health ministry, which has been reporting the death toll there. Rosenberg shook hands with Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., after he was escorted out.

Rosenberg said he was a guest of Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, R-N.Y., tonight and was released from being held by the sergeant-at-arms once D’Esposito claimed him outside the gallery.

House adjourns while Biden is still in the chamber

Speaker Johnson and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, D-La., just adjourned the House while Biden was still in the room.

They also dimmed the lights.

Image:
President Joe Biden makes his way out of the nearly empty House chamber after his State of the Union address.Andrew Harnik / AP

Speaker Johnson misses the beginning of Britt's speech

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

Speaker Johnson is still in the House chamber and appears to want to leave to see Britt's GOP response.

Biden just looked up at Johnson, who tapped his watch as if to say: "OK, time to leave."

Biden's speech was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET, but he started at 9:26 p.m.

Britt takes early dig at Biden's age

In an early reference to Biden’s age, Britt calls the president “a permanent politician” who has spent more years in office “than I’ve even been alive.”

Biden's speech lasted 67 minutes, less than last year's

Katie Primm

The president's speech clocked in at 67 minutes, compared to last year's 73-minute speech.

Britt's response has started

Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama has begun her response to Biden's address.

Biden noted drug detection scanners at the border that Congress hasn't funded

Biden said tonight that the border security bill that was killed by Republicans included money for “100 more high-tech drug detection machines” to increase efforts to screen and stop cars from smuggling fentanyl into the U.S.

NBC News reported this week that scanners bought by the federal government are sitting unused because Customs and Border Protection says it does not have the money it needs to install them at the ports of entry.

Father of Marine killed in Afghanistan escorted out of speech for heckling Biden

Diana Paulsen

Carly Roman and Diana Paulsen

Steve Nikoui, the father of Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, was escorted out of the address after interrupting Biden's speech to criticize the administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Nikoui yelled, "Abbey Gate!" referring to the 2021 suicide bombing at Kabul Airport's Abbey Gate, where Nikoui and 12 other U.S. service members and 170 Afghan civilians were killed as the Taliban provided security outside. The Islamic State terrorist group took responsibility for the attack, which took place during the widely criticized withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by the Biden administration.

Nikoui was attending as a guest of Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., who served in the Army in Afghanistan. Mast said on X that Biden "refused to say the names of the 13" service members who were killed and that he "couldn't support" Nikoui's actions more.

Latina congresswoman tweets after Biden calls an undocumented immigrant 'illegal'

Rep. Delia Ramirez, a Latina congresswoman in Illinois, said on X that “no human being is illegal.”

The tweet came almost immediately after Biden, in an off-the-cuff remark, referred to an undocumented immigrant as “illegal.”

The word "illegal" was not in Biden's prepared remarks. Neither was "undocumented."

Rep. Chuy Garcia, also of Illinois, echoed Ramirez's criticism. “As a proud immigrant, I’m extremely disappointed to hear President Biden use the word 'illegal.'”

Republicans say speech was political and they felt yelled at

Republicans leaving the chamber say that this was a “political and campaign speech” and that it was about “as expected."

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said Biden was “yelling and mumbling simultaneously."

Cassidy also said one House member next to him told him “he had not been yelled at so much since his wife was so mad at him.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called the speech “a home run."

“Mr. President, you brought the Irish fire tonight,” said Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y.

Alabama woman whose IVF treatments were paused praises Biden's speech

Emily Capilouto, who lives in Alabama and had been hoping to schedule an embryo transfer this month before her clinic paused IVF treatments because of the recent state Supreme Court ruling, welcomed the president’s speech.

“I was encouraged by the President’s call to protect IVF and reproductive rights as one of his first topics tonight, specifically his promise to restore Roe if Congress provides the opportunity,” she wrote. “I hope these protections continue to be a main focus for his campaign and administration.”

She added, “The President’s note on the power of women to mobilize and enact change resonated deeply. We had 300 advocates at the AL State House and sent over 32,000 emails to our legislators to demand the restart of IVF in our state, and we were heard. I hope women and our allies keep up this momentum for the general election and the President can deliver on his pledge to protect and reinstate reproductive freedoms.”

She also said she was glad to hear about the launch of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. “Women’s health — including reproductive health issues — is sorely under researched and I hope better understandings of what impacts women’s health outcomes will further demonstrate the need for improved access to effective and affordable reproductive healthcare across the lifespan,” she said.

Corinn O’Brien, founder of the Fight for Alabama Families Coalition, wrote, “It’s pretty amazing to hear the President talk about infertility and protecting IVF. And for the First Lady to invite Tory Beasley, who has been advocating with us for IVF in AL, simply amazing.”

Catherine Allen

Michigan group that pushed for 'uncommitted' against Biden is disappointed in speech

Layla Elabed, campaign manager for Listen to Michigan, which encouraged the state's voters to vote uncommitted in protest of Biden's policy on Gaza, said the president “continues not to hear the voices of the anti-war movement across our country calling for a permanent ceasefire.”

Elabed said uncommitted voters “would have liked to see Biden call for a timetable from Israel’s government to end its war and occupation against the Palestinian people.”

Biden defends Israel, while saying war has taken a toll on innocent people in Gaza

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Biden began speaking about the Israel-Hamas war by saying the crisis started on Oct. 7, when Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel and took 250 hostages.

"Here in the chamber tonight are families whose loved ones are still being held by Hamas," said Biden, who pledged to them that his administration won't rest until it brings their loved ones home.

"Israel has a right to go after Hamas," he said, but he added that Hamas could end the conflict today "by releasing the hostages" and laying down arms.

He said Israel's burden is increased because Hamas hides and operates among civilians.

"But Israel also has a fundamental responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Gaza," he said. "This war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined."

Since the war started, more than 30,000 people — two-thirds of them women and children — have died in Gaza, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Biden said his administration has been working "nonstop" to establish an immediate cease-fire that would last for at least six weeks.

He then announced that he's directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza for the delivery of humanitarian aid. He added that no American boots will be on the ground.

Republicans are leaving quickly

Republicans started quickly clearing out of the chamber the moment the speech ended. About a half-dozen left during the speech.

Republicans set a low bar for Biden tonight

Good point here from a longtime GOP pollster: Republicans lowered the bar for Biden so far that they made it simple to clear.

Biden's speech wraps

Biden's address concluded shortly after 10:30 p.m. ET.

He closed with a message looking toward a future for "all Americans." He also reiterated a phrase he frequently concludes his speeches with, saying "nothing" is beyond the U.S.' capacity when Americans work together.

Biden calls out Sen. Lindsey Graham in closing remarks

When the president said, “Let me close with this," he ad-libbed to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., “I know you don’t want to hear any more, Lindsey, but I got a few more things,” and Biden critic Graham was briefly seen cracking up laughing. 

The two used to pal around together every year along with the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at the Munich Security Forum.

Biden stumbled at times tonight, but he also ad-libbed some, and those remarks have come across as some of the most authentic moments.

Trump posts graphic saying Biden is 'endorsed by Putin'

Olympia Sonnier

Trump posted a graphic on Truth Social saying Biden is “endorsed by Putin” — strange since Trump usually boasts about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and compliments him, while here his campaign appears to think that tying Biden to Putin will hurt him.

Biden draws light-hearted cheers in saying speech is almost over

Several lawmakers cheered when Biden said, "Let me close with this," indicating his speech was almost over.

The president jokingly said "yay!" in response.

The “unity agenda” isn’t going to get the same applause it might have gotten when you talk about it after an hour of highly charged partisan rhetoric.

Biden: Only Gaza solution is a two-state solution

Biden repeats his position that the only lasting solution in Gaza is a two-state solution. He says that as a long-standing supporter of Israel, there is no other path for peace in Israel and for Palestinians to live in dignity than the two-state solution. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says no to it — unlike most of his predecessors.)

One hour in, Biden then turns to China and the alliance he has built in the Pacific. The Gaza war disaster took up less than 5 minutes.

Biden makes first mention of Israel-Hamas war

Biden's first mention of the Middle East came 54 minutes into his speech.

He described the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and recognized the family members of hostages in the chamber tonight, including some as guests of Speaker Johnson, who stood to applaud them.

Biden then talked about Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, who are both being held in Russia.

The House is quiet as Biden talks about Gaza

The chamber is unusually silent and still during this section. More Republicans are paying attention and are off their phones than they have been most of the speech.

Progressives hold signs demanding a 'lasting ceasfire' in Gaza

Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Summer Lee, D-Pa., are holding “lasting ceasfire now” signs but being discreet with them.

Image: US-POLITICS-SOTU-BIDEN
Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush hold signs in support of a cease-fire as President Joe Biden speaks about the conflict between Israel and Gaza.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images

The other sides of their signs say, "Stop sending bombs.” Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., are holding signs, too.

All five members have been highly critical of Israel's policy in the region and Biden's approach to the war. Lee, Tlaib and Bush are all wearing keffiyehs tonight.

Truth Social experiencing disruptions

Olympia Sonnier

Trump's platform Truth Social is experiencing disruptions.

Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said the platform was “working just fine for us.”

The former president has been responding to parts of Biden's speech on the platform tonight.

Biden jabs at Trump's 'poisioning the blood' remark about immigrants

In another jab at Trump without naming him, Biden said, "I will not demonize immigrants, saying they are poison in the blood of our country."

The comment appeared to be a reference to Trump's suggestion at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in December that immigrants coming into the U.S. are "poisoning the blood of our country."

Biden's re-election campaign quickly seized on the comment at the time, likening it to Adolf Hitler’s use of the term “blood poisoning” in his manifesto “Mein Kampf” to denigrate immigration and the mixing of races.

Trump denied the connection to Hitler, saying he never read the text, and yet he doubled down days later, saying people crossing the border illegally are "destroying the blood of our country."

Biden's reference to John Lewis draws Republican cheers

Diana Paulsen

Biden's references to the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and his role in the march on Selma, Alabama, had Speaker Johnson and fellow Republicans standing and cheering for the first time.

Biden engages with Marjorie Taylor Greene on death of Laken Riley

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

As Biden began to speak about the bipartisan border security package that was negotiated in the Senate and rejected by Republicans, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., began yelling at him about the Georgia college student who was recently killed, allegedly by an undocumented migrant.

Biden responded by picking up a button portraying the woman, Laken Riley, that Greene had handed him as he entered the chamber for tonight's address.

Biden said Riley was an "innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal." He then addressed Riley's parents and said his heart goes out to them as someone who lost has children himself.

Protester yelling about Marines escorted out of the gallery

A protester in the gallery, where guests sit, was escorted out of the speech as he was yelling about the Marines. “Second Battalion U.S. Marines," the man yelled. Biden did not even acknowledge the man.

Image: US-POLITICS-SOTU-BIDEN
A man shouts in protest at the State of the Union address.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images

Biden draws contrast with Trump on immigration

Biden drew a sharp contrast with Trump and reminded voters of Trump’s most controversial immigration policies.

“I will not demonize immigrants saying they 'poison the blood of our country,' as he said in his own words," he said. "I will not separate families. I will not ban people from America because of their faith.”

When I interview undecided voters or voters who don’t like Trump or Biden, these Trump policies often come up as the reasons voters who don’t like Trump say they’d take Biden if the election were tomorrow.

Snickers are an unscripted add to the speech

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

Biden was talking about "shrinkflation" — when companies shrink the size of a product but sell it for the same price — and in an unscripted aside he talked about the candy bar Snickers, saying it's the same price but you get less.

Some will dismiss the comment as too light-hearted for the State of the Union, but it's the kind of complaint that the average person understands, a perpetual goal of the president.

Biden goes on offense on immigration

Gabe Gutierrez

Biden is continuing Democrats’ recent push to flip the script on Republicans over immigration.

Like he did last week in Brownsville, Texas, he invited Trump — “my predecessor” — to join him in urging Congress to pass the border security fund bill. This time, he took on Republicans more directly for killing the bill. “I’ll be darned,” he ad-libbed. “Look at the facts. I know you know how to read.”

Despite a record-breaking migrant influx during his presidency, Biden is trying to strike a contrast with the GOP front-runner on moral terms.

“I will not demonize immigrants saying they are ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’” Biden said. “I will not separate families.”

Prior to this year, Democrats had often seemed flat-footed on the border. Now, they’re going on offense as polls show it’s an increasingly important issue for voters.

Pro-Palestinian protests near Capitol end without arrests

The pro-Palestinian protest outside the Capitol that blocked streets for several hours ended tonight without incident.

No arrests were made. 

Union workers cheer Biden's shoutout

After Biden said, “Unions built the middle class,” a room full of members of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters started cheering. The labor union, which is based in Philadelphia, endorsed Biden.

politics political union
Emma Barnett / NBC News

Dasha Burns notes: This is the tone on immigration Dems were hoping to hear during his border visit, delivered better here in front of a jeering GOP.

Adds Garrett Haake: The Biden campaign should consider having the president travel with a bunch of booing House Republicans when he goes out on the campaign trail. He seems energized by playing the heel, WWE-style.

Biden talks up bipartisan border bill, responds directly to Republicans

Biden criticized Republicans for blocking the Senate bipartisan border bill and took on naysayers in the chamber directly.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., mouths, “That’s true,” as Biden details what’s in his bipartisan border bill.

Biden hasn't yet mentioned Israel-Hamas war

Biden has still not mentioned the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Meanwhile, there are protests outside demanding an immediate cease-fire.

Biden boosts Sen. Bob Casey ahead of re-election bid

Some top-of-the-ticket endorsements for a key down-ballot candidate. Biden asks Congress to pass “Bobby Casey’s” bill on “shrinkflation.” The Pennsylvania senator, a fellow Scranton native, is on the ballot in November in a race that could be key to the Senate majority.

Thirty-eight minutes into a speech that opened with Ukraine, Putin’s invasion and the importance of democracy — but not a word yet about Gaza and the failure so far to get a cease-fire or a hostage release deal. Not the best-selling point for the Biden foreign policy ...

What is that thing in front of Speaker Johnson?

Allie Raffa

The object in front of Johnson on the rostrum is a 200-year-old inkstand.

From the House's website: “The inkstand is considered the oldest surviving artifact of the House and was made between 1810 and 1820. Although its origins are mysterious, it most likely came into the House around 1819. The inkstand is stamped with the mark of J. Leonard, a Washington silversmith and watchmaker. It contains three replacement crystal inkwells and is adorned on both sides by swags and eagles. The feet of the tray take the form of fasces with snakes winding around them, classical symbols of unity and wisdom, respectively.”

Biden tries to get out ahead of Trump tax cuts fight

The Trump tax cuts expire during the next term (either Biden’s or Trump’s), so this is Biden wanting to make the Trump tax cuts a negative in the fall.  

Biden's ad-libs can cut both ways

Hallie Jackson

Kristen Welker and Hallie Jackson

Kristen Welker says: Biden's ad-lib about getting on Air Force One didn’t pay off — a reminder that ad-libbing can be very dicey.

Hallie Jackson responds: To Kristen's point, his story about DuPont and a well-educated workforce, not in prepared remarks, showed that sometimes that risk can pay off — with murmurs of assent from Democrats in the room.

Trump takes note of Mitt Romney sitting next to Joe Manchin

Olympia Sonnier

Trump mocked centrist Sens. Mitt Romney and Joe Manchin for sitting together at the address tonight.

“Interesting that Romney and Manchin are sitting together, and nobody wants to talk to them. I think they’d make a great No Labels Team!” he said in a Truth Social post.

Both members are leaving the Senate at the end of their current terms. Manchin declined to run for president on the No Labels ticket.

Johnson has nodded at times in agreement with Biden

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

Several times in the speech, Johnson has nodded in agreement with Biden.

The president said that an experience for "both sides" is meeting with business leaders and being told what they need most is an educated workforce.

Harris and Johnson nodded in unison.

Biden ad-libs on education

The last 30-45 seconds on education were a total ad-lib, not in the prepared remarks.

Now Biden is back on script.

Biden jokes about flying on Air Force One to Moscow

Amanda TerkelPolitics Managing Editor

Talking about the high cost of prescription drugs in the U.S., Biden joked that anyone who wants to fly on Air Force One with him could go to other countries and get them for much less.

He talked about flying to Toronto, Berlin or Moscow — but then realized he had misspoken and said, “I mean, excuse me — well, even Moscow, probably.”

The comments were not part of his prepared remarks that were sent out by the White House.

Biden would focus on early childhood agenda in a second term

Biden is now discussing an early childhood agenda. That used to be part of his Build Back Better plan, which ultimately was trimmed significantly to become the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden advisers, asked about a potential second-term agenda, have pointed to proposals like universal pre-K as top of the list.

Catherine Allen

Biden was advised to plow through any heckling

There has been very little heckling so far, but aides have encouraged Biden to remember if it happens the audience that matters is watching at home, not in the room: “Barrel through it,” an adviser told NBC News.

Biden is adding a lot of off-the-cuff remarks

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Biden has been adding in many off-the-cuff remarks that weren't in his prepared speech.

Presidents typically stick very closely to their speeches on the teleprompter to avoid any missteps.

For those focused on the style and presentation of this speech, this performance (so far) will again raise the question: Why doesn’t he put himself out there more?

Biden makes a callback to his hot mic moment

Biden seemed to allude to a famous hot mic moment from when he was vice president.

"Obamacare is still a very big deal," Biden said — alluding to the time he was caught on a hot mic, after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, telling Obama, "This is a big f------ deal."

McConnell appeared to crack a grin at the line.

Biden ad-libs a dig at drug companies

Interesting to see Biden ad-lib after this line: “Instead of paying $400 a month for insulin, seniors with diabetes only have to pay $35 a month!” He added the drug companies still make healthy profits, which was not in prepared remarks.

Before the word “populism” got redefined on the right, this is a speech that would have been described as Democratic Party populism of the 20th century. Not sure either Clinton or Obama would have ever thought to shout out a labor union head at any of their addresses. Of course, unions are more popular today than they were in the ’90s or even the early ’00s.

Voters want to hear Biden acknowledge they're still struggling