Trump uses State of the Union to campaign as Pelosi rips up his speech

5 February 2020, 06:02 | Updated: 5 February 2020, 08:17

President Trump has hailed the "great American comeback" in a speech to Congress
President Trump has hailed the "great American comeback" in a speech to Congress. Picture: PA

Donald Trump has hailed the "great American comeback" in a speech to Congress on the eve of his expected acquittal in his impeachment trial.

Standing before a divided Congress and addressing a nation at odds over an impeachment trial, US President Donald Trump used his State of the Union address to campaign for re-election.

Mr Trump declared America is "stronger than ever before," but there was division after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up her copy of the speech following the speech.

Watch in full: Donald Trump's 2020 State of the Union address

Republicans chanted "four more years" as the President entered the House, while Democrats stood silently.

Mr Trump said: "America's enemies are on the run, America's fortunes are on the rise and America's future is blazing bright," Mr Trump declared.

"In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America's destiny.

"We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back."

Setting a measure for success and then contending he had surpassed it, Mr Trump has gone from an inaugural address that decried "American carnage" to extolling the "Great American comeback", claiming credit for the nation's economic success as a chief rationale for a second term.

Republican members of Congress applauded nearly every sentence of Mr Trump's speech, often leaping to their feet to cheer him.

In the nationally televised speech, Mr Trump was speaking from the House of Representatives, on the opposite side of the Capitol from where the Senate is expected to acquit him on Wednesday, largely along party lines.

Mr Trump aimed to spend the first part of his speech highlighting the economy's strength, including low unemployment, stressing how it has helped blue-collar workers and the middle class, though the period of growth began under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

And what Mr Trump calls an unprecedented boom is, by many measures, not all that different from the solid economy he inherited from Mr Obama.

Economic growth was 2.3% in 2019, matching the average pace since the Great Recession ended a decade ago in the first year of Mr Obama's eight-year presidency.

Mr Trump had promised much higher.

In delivering his speech, Mr Trump stood before the politicians who voted to remove him from office - and those who are expected to acquit him when the Senate trial comes to a close.

Over his shoulder, visible in nearly every camera shot, was Ms Pelosi, a frequent thorn in Mr Trump's side who authorised the impeachment proceedings that charged the president with abusing the power of his office to push Ukraine to investigate political foe Joe Biden.

Ms Pelosi went viral with her seemingly sarcastic applause as the President spoke in 2019, and a year later she ripped up her copy of Mr Trump's speech as he ended his address.

When Mr Trump entered the chamber, he did not take her outstretched hand but it was not clear he had seen her gesture.

Later, as Republicans cheered, she remained in her seat.

In advance of his address, Mr Trump tweeted that the caucus chaos in Iowa showed Democrats were incompetent and should not be trusted to run the government.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was to deliver the Democratic Party's official response to Mr Trump's address and, in excerpts released before the speech, was to draw a contrast between actions taken by Democrats and the president's rhetoric.

"It doesn't matter what the President says about the stock market," Ms Whitmer says.

"What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don't have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans, or prescription drugs."

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