State of the Union 2023: Biden to address US Congress as focus turns to 2024 elections

Tuesday's State of the Union address offers Biden a chance to connect with millions of voters on the economy and other issues

President Joe Biden delivers the 2022 State of the Union address flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi. Reuters
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US President Joe Biden will try out his 2024 campaign message in front of the nation on Tuesday, when he delivers the annual State of the Union address.

Although he has yet to officially announce his re-election run, Mr Biden has hinted that he intends to do so and has started the year with a sharper tone against Republicans at campaign-style events.

His address to a joint session of Congress is a chance to promote his achievements and contrast himself with his opponents before tens of millions of voters.

"Getting ready," Mr Biden tweeted on Monday evening, alongside a picture of some half-eaten cookies and a draft of the speech.

He will deliver his third address to Congress under very different political circumstances than his first two, although he is riding high after two recent headline-grabbing events.

On Friday, the US reported a jobs report that exceeded expectations, and on Saturday the US military took down a claimed Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina.

"I think you'll hear the President is optimistic about America's future because he believes in the American worker and the grit and resilience of the American people," White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese said on Monday.

Mr Biden wants to push his message that, despite predictions that the US is headed towards a recession, America's economy remains strong and is more likely to experience a soft landing than negative growth.

He is also expected to highlight international support for Ukraine as some Republicans in Congress have voiced scepticism about further US aid.

Yet Mr Biden, 80, also faces renewed scrutiny over whether he should seek four more years in the White House or hand the keys to a new generation of leaders.

That will make it imperative for him to explain to the public why he deserves to remain in power.

Workers install security fencing around the US Capitol before President Joe Biden's State of the Union address. Getty / AFP

More than six in 10 Americans do not believe he has accomplished much as president, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

And most Democrats do not think he should run for re-election, an Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research survey showed.

On Friday, Mr Biden welcomed a report showing the nation added 517,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest in five decades.

“Put simply, I would argue the Biden economic plan is working,” he said.

Meanwhile, the president faces a hostile Republican House majority that is forcing a high-stakes showdown over the nation’s debt limit and pledging to investigate his administration, family and possession of classified records.

The discovery of the classified papers is the subject of an investigation by a special counsel.

Those conflicts will shadow the expected launch of Mr Biden’s expected 2024 campaign this spring.

He plans to deliver an optimistic message, promoting the many legislative accomplishments from his first two years in office, according to a White House official.

They include his sweeping climate and health law that passed in 2022 and the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure package.

Mr Biden is also expected to speak about the nation’s economic resilience in the face of inflation.

"The President uniquely understands that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the economy and that, even as we've seen real progress and inflation coming down over the last six months in particular, we have more work to do to bring prices down by lower costs and create some breathing room," Mr Deese said.

Arkansas Governor and former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the Republican response to Mr Biden’s speech.

- Bloomberg contribute to this report

President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. AP
Updated: February 07, 2023, 9:45 PM