WATCH: President Trump's first State of the Union

 President Trump will attempt to turn the successes of his first year in office — tax cuts, deregulation and an offensive against the Islamic State — into a second-year agenda that he says will bring about a "new American moment."

"There has never been a better time to start living the American dream," Trump will say, according to advance excerpts of his speech released by the White House.

That optimistic tone underscores what's expected to be an appeal for bipartisanship on the two issues that could define Trump's second year: Immigration and infrastructure.

Trump will say he wants to extend an "open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed."

In a pre-speech interview with news anchors, he spoke of ending decades of divisiveness in American politics, and how he himself ran for office as a businessman but has learned to "govern with heart."

More: Preparing for State of the Union, Trump says he's learning to govern with 'heart'

As with most modern State of the Union addresses, the Trump's speech is both credit-claiming victory lap and agenda-setting legislative proposals.

Trump will once again tout the tax cut bill he signed into law in December that will "provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses." He'll say he's "ended the war on clean coal," cut more regulations than any other president, and canceled trade deals that he says are one-sided and unfair.

But the State of the Union speech isn't just a report on the year that's passed. The Constitution requires the president to give an annual report to Congress and "recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

Trump has a weighty legislative agenda he'd like to get through a Republican-dominated Congress before November's elections change the legislative math. 

At the top of that list: Infrastructure and immigration.

"I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve," Trump will say. 

"Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families," the speech says. "So tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed."

Trump's first State of the Union address presents a unique challenge for Trump, a president more accustomed to speaking in 280-character tweets and brief exchanges with reporters than an hour-long formal address.

The prime-time televised address also gives Trump an unfiltered opportunity to talk about his presidency without the distraction of daily headlines about the Russia investigation and White House intrigue.

Trump's tone will be perhaps as carefully measured as the substance of his speech. While Trump is often combative in his relations with Congress — even members of his own party — State of the Union addresses often extol the virtues of bipartisanship.

Democrats are already questioning Trump's call for bipartisanship, given a year of intense party battles over items like health care and tax cuts.

"There has been hardly a shred of bipartisanship in the Trump era, despite many appeals for it," said Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "President Trump was handed an already healthy economy by his predecessor. Like many things in his life, he inherited it."

At a news conference prior to the speech, members of the Congressional Black Caucus were already clad in black suits they planned to wear in solidarity with Democratic women supporting the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment campaign.

Caucus members also sported red buttons to honor the late Recy Taylor, a black Alabama woman who was raped by six white men in 1944. Her rapists were never brought to justice.

Some caucus members plan to boycott the address.

“This president has not honored nor respected the office of the presidency and has shown total disregard for our democratic institutions,’’ said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif, who said she has attended every SOTU since 1998.

The State of the Union address has become increasingly polarizing in recent years, with members of the president's party applauding enthusiastically and the opposition party largely sitting on its hands. 

"I'm curious to see how much of this speech is to the base, and how much of it is to the country," said Alison Howard of Dominican University of California, who has studied State of the Union addresses. "It's not a rally. It's not a campaign speech. It's a constitutional duty."

But the Trump campaign is blurring that line, turning the official speech into a fundraising opportunity. In a solicitation, the campaign told supporters that if they give at least $35, their name will appear on a live stream on the campaign's website.

"It’s not about just one of us," the campaign's fundraising pitch says. "It’s about ALL of us. Which is why your name deserves to be displayed during Tuesday night’s speech."

Beyond the substance of the speech, the State of the Union Address has also become a forum for high political theater, marked by boycottsprotests, and opposition responses.

In one tradition instituted by President Ronald Reagan, presidents invite everyday American heroes to sit in the gallery with the first lady. 

Sanders said Trump's guests will include a welder who just bought his first home and is using tax cut savings to help finance his children's education; parents who lost their children to the MS-13 gang; a blind, double amputee who re-joined the Marines after being injured in battle; and volunteers who did rescue work after floods, hurricanes, and wildfires.

More: President Trump's first State of the Union: Who's on the guest list?

One subject not likely to be mentioned: The ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's links to Russian agents attempting to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

"We spend more time on that than we do any other topic, despite the fact that, time and time again, poll after poll says that, frankly, no one cares about this issue, and it's certainly not the thing that keeps people up at night," Sanders said Monday.

"We'd love to talk about all of the things that do.  And my guess is, that will be the focus of the president's State of the Union."

© 2018 USA Today


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