The 5 Key Moments From President Biden’s 2024 State of the Union Address

President Joe Biden presented Congress with his fourth State of the Union address on Thursday night, one that was clearly crafted to separate him as firmly as possible from his presumptive opponent in this year’s election—former president Donald Trump. (Biden coolly referred to Trump only as “my predecessor” in his speech.) Below, find the five key moments from Thursday’s SOTU address.

Trump was derided, of course

Biden alluded to Trump’s candidacy by calling for “a future based on the core values that have defined America: honesty, decency, dignity, equality. To respect everyone. To give everyone a fair shot. To give hate no safe harbor,” and referring to “some other people my age” who “see a different story: an American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That’s not me.” (Trump is actually four years younger than Biden, but we all round down, right?)

Abortion was centered (finally)

The specter of the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has cast a long shadow on the Biden administration, and in light of recent reproductive rights-related controversies like Alabama’s attempt to outlaw IVF and Texas’s increasingly punitive abortion restrictions, the White House has made an arguably overdue attempt to center the issue. Guests at Thursday’s State of the Union address included Kate Cox (the Dallas woman forced to leave Texas in order to terminate her nonviable pregnancy) and Elizabeth Carr, the first baby to be born via IVF in 1981.

The Biden administration’s call for a temporary ceasefire was renewed

Since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks, Biden has primarily expressed solidarity with Israel, and on Thursday night, he reaffirmed that Israel “has a right to go after Hamas.” However, in a tone shift that might have been prompted, at least in part, by the high rate of Arab Americans voting “uncommitted” during the Michigan primary as a result of Biden’s support for Israel, the president condemned the 30,000-plus-person death toll in Gaza and endorsed a two-state solution. (Vice President Kamala Harris also recently voiced her support for a temporary ceasefire.)“Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip,” he said. “Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority.”

Biden took a hard stance on Ukraine

“I will not bow down,” he promised Russian president Vladimir Putin early in Thursday night’s remarks, encouraging Congress to approve the bipartisan national security agreement announced in the Senate and excoriating the notion that “assistance for Ukraine is being blocked by those who want us to walk away from our leadership in the world.” The US does not currently have troops on the ground in Ukraine, and Biden assured the country that that would remain the case while reaffirming his administration’s support for Ukraine.

Voting rights were emphasized

Bettie Mae Fikes, a singer and civil rights activist known as the “Voice of Selma,” was in attendance at the State of the Union address, and Biden paid tribute to the late congressman John Lewis while emphasizing the importance of fighting back against “voter suppression, election subversion, unlimited dark money, and extreme gerrymandering.”

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