What to watch for in Trump’s address to Congress

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTSWV0D

U.S. President Donald Trump will deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

It’s one of the few yet-to-be-done items on President Donald Trump’s political list: Address Congress. As the 45th president prepares to give his technically-not-a-State-of-the-Union address to a joint session of Congress, we’ve put together a short list of things to watch.

WATCH LIVE: President Donald Trump’s address to Congress

Which promises does he mention, which does he leave out?

The White House told reporters Monday that the first half of the president’s speech would focus on his campaign promises, and which ones he has kept so far in office. Keep the Washington Post’s tracker of 60 key Trump campaign promises handy as you watch tonight, to see what does and doesn’t make it into the speech. (Want more? There is plenty. See this list of 282 Trump promises.)

Does he go on the attack, Or aim for dignified?

President Trump’s speeches follow a few patterns. One he regularly returns to is a sharp criticism of those he perceives as personal enemies. While presidents often use their remarks to Congress to define and confront global foes, they rarely aim at domestic political targets. Watch to see if the president launches any campaign-style attacks, or if he focuses more on statesmanship.

The law and order president, defined

We expect security to be a prominent theme tonight. So two things to watch on this front: 1) What does the president prioritize in his security agenda? There is a lot to choose from: preventing terrorism, his suspended immigration ban which he plans to reintroduce, deporting undocumented criminals, building a wall, beefing up the military, supporting police or something else and 2) Does he offer any new details? (Especially on the new immigration ban, which the White House is expected to put out as soon as Wednesday.)

Does he say anything to unify the nation?

Sixteen months ago, then-candidate Donald Trump insisted “I will be a great unifier for our country.” As president, Tuesday’s speech may be his biggest opportunity yet to reach out to those who are concerned about his policies. Watch for any recognition by Trump of the fears and divisions in the country, or if he chooses to ignore these issues.

Paul Ryan’s reactions

When it comes to Trump, the speaker of the House has walked a delicate line between sometimes supporting the president, rarely breaking with him and repeatedly refusing to comment on his tweets. Overall, Ryan is a Republican who has shown that he wants to agree with the president when he can. But watch the speaker sitting directly behind POTUS tonight — any moment he does not applaud Trump could be telling.

How long does Trump speak?
addresses-in-length
The length of presidents’ first speeches to Congress have varied greatly in length. President Bill Clinton spoke for nearly twice the amount of time as President Richard Nixon. It’s not clear how much time Trump will spend speaking to lawmakers. But early reports indicate he’ll rank higher on this list.

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