WASHINGTON - President Trump thrives in and loves speaking for big crowds, where he can make unscripted remarks that are received with unbridled adulation. But tonight, Trump faces the most challenging speech of his short political career - one that is far less raucous, includes friend and foe, and demands eloquence and attention to detail: his first joint address to Congress.
What should we look for in this historic moment of Trump's presidency? Here are five key expectations:
1. A unifying message
In Monday’s press briefing, Sean Spicer explained that the President’s remarks will “reaffirm the President’s desire to unite the country and unite our party.” Spicer noted that the President will address supporting the military and veterans, and helping our children get an education. Spicer noted these to be shared American values, regardless of party.
2. Immigration will be addressed
Immigration will likely be center stage. President Trump will not use the speech to defend his divisive executive order on immigration or to present new legislation; that is not the purpose of this type of speech. Instead, the President will defend the importance of securing the border and highlight the negative effects of immigration on our economy. In Monday’s briefing, Spicer summed it up by saying the President will explain “why it [immigration] matters.”
3. Guests highlight conservative priorities
The President and First Lady have invited special guests to attend this evening, who each symbolize the administration’s top priorities. Guests include Jamiel Shaw, Sr., the father of Jamiel, Jr. who was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant and gang member (immigration reform); Denisha Merriweather, a first-generation college graduate who benefited from school choice (education reform); and Maureen McCarthy Scalia, Justice Antonin Scalia’s widow (Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court).
4. Democrats will present unity, inclusiveness and the importance of Obamacare
Deputy DNC Chair Congressman Keith Ellison will bring newly-elected DNC Chair Tom Perez, demonstrating party unity. Senator Tim Kaine will bring Shannon Linford, who has a neurological disorder and relies on the Affordable Care Act. And the Democratic response to tonight’s speech will be from Astrid Silva, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, who directly contrasts the President’s key messages about immigration.
5. He'll stick to the script
Just as we saw on Inauguration Day, President Trump will likely stick to the script and rely on a teleprompter for his remarks tonight. But don’t be surprised by greater dissent or more raucous rebuttals from DNC attendees.
Whatever your party, tonight is must-see TV.