WATCH LIVE: President Trump addresses joint session of Congress
WASHINGTON — When President Donald Trump steps up to the House speaker’s rostrum Tuesday night for arguably the biggest moment of his nascent presidency, he will be addressing a multitude of audiences that extend far beyond the House chamber.
Trump, in laying out his priorities for the year to come, will be simultaneously trying to rally and reassure his base after a rocky start in the White House, as well as sell his agenda to skeptics in Congress and a broader public.
His speech is set to begin at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday. Watch it on our live stream.
Here are the some of the groups that will be tuned into Trump’s first joint congressional address and what they will be listening for:
Trump comes into Tuesday’s speech with the lowest approval rating of any modern president. His supporters, though, are still fervent in their support for him. They will be looking for Trump to focus on the work he’s done to make good on the campaign promises that vaulted him from reality TV star to president. That includes his pledge to withdraw from and renegotiate global trade deals, repeal and replace Obamacare, crack down on illegal immigration, build a Southern border wall and boost military spending.
White House aides who have been part of writing the speech have told CNN that Trump intends to tick through each of those accomplishments.
“He’s doing what he said he was going to do,” a White House aide said in an emailed preview of the speech.
Republican leaders in both the House and Senate want to know that Trump is their partner on a host of issues, but with none greater than repealing Obamacare.
Trump has raised expectations on what Republicans will do with the law, promising his plan would offer “insurance for everyone” through a plan that will be “much less expensive and much better.”
All negotiations over repealing Obamacare have happened in secret, so far. But Tuesday night offers Trump a chance to make clear to Republican leaders in Congress that they are all on the same page when it comes to health care.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is also making that case, telling reporters Tuesday that there are no “rival plans” to repeal Obamacare.
“This is a plan that we are all working on together — the House, the Senate, the White House,” he said.
Trump, according to White House officials, is also expected to reach out to Republican leadership by pledging action on tax and regulatory reform, an issue particularly of interest to Ryan.
The lack of a public plan to repeal and replace Obamacare has led to vociferous and public outcry in many congressional districts. Many conservative Republicans, home last week on break, got earfuls from worried constituents during boisterous town hall meetings.
Trump and his allies have so far dismissed the town hall unrest as the work of paid Democratic protesters. But Tuesday’s speech gives him a chance to arm skeptical Republicans lawmakers with a replacement plan to sell constituents and reassure them that they will have affordable insurance opportunities in a post-Obamacare world.
After a crushing loss in November, Democrats have begun to regain their footing, energized by the town hall protests and new leadership at the Democratic National Committee.
Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who was elected DNC chair Saturday, will be in the audience to Trump’s speech. Perez was invited by Keith Ellison, the liberal congressman who he beat in the leadership race in a move aimed at projecting party unity.
On Tuesday, Democrats will be looking for two things: olive branches and opportunities.
Trump, a one-time Democratic donor, could offer up areas of potential compromise, on issues such as infrastructure or equal pay.
But at the same time as Democrats watch for those overtures, they will also look to pick apart Trump’s remarks, hoping to find fodder to rally voters to their side and unite against the Trump agenda. So far, he’s given them plenty to work with, from his botched immigration ban roll out to some controversial Cabinet picks.
World leaders have watched the United States’ transition of power with a mix of curiosity, concern and optimism. But, like some within Trump’s own party, international leaders and interest groups are eager for details on how Trump will alter US standing on the world stage.
Trump has promised to break away from international trade deals, increase military spending and has questioned the country’s involvement in organizations like the United Nations, all moves that would dramatically alter the way the United States is seen internationally.
How emphatically he carries that nationalistic message Tuesday night will signal to the world just how much of a geopolitical reshaping he intends.
No issue animated Trump’s 2016 campaign more than immigration.
Already, Trump has signed an executive order pledging to build his promised Southern border wall and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have begun rounding up swaths of undocumented immigrants with infractions that likely would have left them spared under the Obama administration.
Trump has, however, shown he’s willing to find some common ground.
He has suggested he is open to a compromise on children who qualified for Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, telling reporters that he is going to “show great heart” to children who were brought into the United States by undocumented parents.
Undocumented and legal immigrants alike will sure to be listening to what tone he takes Tuesday.
Victims of anti-Semitic violence
Trump ran a campaign accused of playing to support from intolerant groups such as white nationalists and even Nazi sympathizers. He eventually condemned the support of such groups, but was criticized for his at times seeming reluctance to do so.
It’s an issue that followed him into the White House. Recent anti-Semitic vandalism and bomb threats against Jewish schools and community centers have roiled communities around the United States. Asked about it during a news conference, Trump told a Jewish reporter to sit down when he asked about how Trump plans to combat anti-Semitism.
Trump has since called on the violence to stop.
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Trump said last week after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Jewish groups, concerned that Trump has not been quick to disavow the attacks, will likely look for him to use his international platform to do just that.
An administration official told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny Tuesday that Trump does intend to discuss threats to Jewish sites across the country in his speech.