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In defiant 2024 State of the Union, Biden fires opening salvo in likely rematch with Trump

President Biden on Thursday delivered his third State of the Union, taking a defiantly political tone amid the gridlock in Congress and addressing his predecessor and likely opponent, former President Donald Trump, ahead of what will likely be a nasty rematch between the two in November.

While Mr. Biden did not mention Trump by name, he frequently chided “my predecessor,” highlighting the unusual election that is up ahead between the two presidents who have had pursued different agendas. 

But despite House Speaker Mike Johnson’s pleas for decorum, there were still disruptions from Republicans. Mr. Biden veered off script when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said “say her name” about Laken Riley, the Georgia student who was murdered and an undocumented man has been arrested for the crime. He held up a button with Riley’s name. Several other disruptors were removed from the chamber. 

In a sign of the White House’s emphasis that democracy will be on the ballot in November, Mr. Biden kicked off the speech by pointing to other “unprecedented” times the State of Union was delivered, comparing the moment to Franklin Roosevelt’s speech in Jan. 1941 when “Hitler was on the march” in Europe. 

“History is watching,” he said, urging Congress to “stand up” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He then transitioned into discussing the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, saying “history will be watching.” 

Mr. Biden also highlighted what will also be likely campaign issues, including the immigration bill that is stalled by Republicans in Congress. He also pushed that Democrats are protecting reproductive rights, with first lady Jill Biden inviting Latorya Beasley, an Alabama woman whose IVF treatment was halted among the state Supreme Court decision, and Kate Cox, who had to leave Texas to receive an abortion after carrying a fetus with what doctors said was a fatal condition, as two of her guests.  

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