STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS: Pres. Trump speech leads to 4.5 million tweets

WASHINGTON (AP) — 11:15 p.m.

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President Donald Trump's first State of the Union is the most-tweeted joint address to Congress ever, according to Twitter.

The social network says 4.5 million tweets were sent around the annual event, surpassing last year's record of 3 million for Trump's first address to Congress — which wasn't technically a State of the Union.

According to the platform, the most tweeted moment of the speech came as Trump waded into the culture wars over racial injustice protests and the national anthem. That was followed by his discussion of his immigration reform proposal and his condemnation of the international criminal gang MS-13.

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10:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address clocked in at one hour and 20 minutes.

According to the American Presidency Project, that makes Trump's speech one of the longest State of the Union addresses in recent presidential history.

President Bill Clinton's final State of the Union speech in January 2000 ran longer than Trump's at just over an hour and 28 minutes.

Clinton delivered another lengthy State of the Union address — an hour and 24 minutes — in January 1995.

Trump spoke for exactly one hour last year when he addressed a joint session of Congress, but that was not a State of the Union address.

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10:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his administration is waging a "maximum pressure" campaign to prevent North Korea's "reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles" from threatening the U.S. homeland.

Trump says that threat could be a reality soon. He says past U.S. experience with North Korea shows that "complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation."

Trump is praising Ji Seong-ho, who is attending the State of the Union speech. Ji was born in North Korea and lost limbs in a train accident before defecting to South Korea, where he helps other defectors. Trump says his "great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all."

Trump is also acknowledging the parents of American college student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after being released from detention in North Korea.

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10:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his administration is waging a "maximum pressure" campaign to prevent North Korea's "reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles" from threatening the U.S. homeland.

Trump says that threat could be a reality soon. He says past U.S. experience with North Korea shows that "complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation."

Trump is praising the parents of American college student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after being released from detention in North Korea. His parents are attending Trump's State of the Union address.

Also attending is Ji Seong-ho, who was born in North Korea and lost limbs in a train accident before defecting to South Korea, where he helps other defectors. Trump says his "great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all."

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10:22 p.m.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is extending her hands to try quieting Democratic colleagues as they groan after President Donald Trump's call for ending "chain migration."

For many lawmakers, the reference is offensive. They say it discredits an immigration system that is family-centric, one in which immigrants are allowed family members to the country.

Trump is calling his immigration proposals a "down-the-middle compromise," prompting brief laughter from Democratic lawmakers.

Trump has prefaced his calls for an immigration overhaul by highlighting the threat posed by MS-13, the violent street gang with Central American ties.

He is capping his immigration remarks by saying, "let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done."

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10:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says "unmatched power" is the surest defense against threats from rogue regimes, terrorist groups and rivals like China and Russia.

He says that's why he's asking Congress to remove budget caps on defense spending and fully fund the U.S. military.

The president says the U.S. defense must also include a nuclear weapons arsenal so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.

Trump says that maybe someday will come a "magical moment" when nations of the world will unite and eliminate their nuclear weapons.

But he says, "We are not there yet."

Trump has threatened to use military force to deter North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons. He also has boasted that he has a bigger nuclear "button" than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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10:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his government needs "all necessary power" to detain terrorists "wherever we chase them down."

Trump signed an order earlier Tuesday directing his defense secretary to re-examine the U.S. military detention policy and to keep the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, open.

Trump says that, "In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds and hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield."

He adds: "Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants." He says that when they are captured overseas, they should be treated like "the terrorists they are."

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10:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is calling on Congress to "set politics aside" and overhaul the nation's immigration system during his State of the Union speech.

Trump is blaming "deadly loopholes" and "open borders" for allowing drugs and gangs "to pour into our most vulnerable communities"

He's highlighting his case with the stories of two families whose daughters were killed by members of the MS-13 gang.

Trump tells the families that "320 million hearts" are breaking as he shares their stories with the nation.

Trump's plan would provide a path to citizenship for nearly 2 million young immigrants living in the country illegally. It would also severely limit legal immigration and provide $25 billion for his promised border wall.

Trump says his plan "will create a safe, modern and lawful immigration system."

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10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he's committed to the "long and difficult" fight against the epidemic of opioid and drug addiction.

He is predicting in his State of the Union address that America ultimately will prevail over a crisis that claims 174 lives daily.

Trump campaigned on the opioid issue and created a presidential advisory commission upon taking office. He recently declared the crisis a public health emergency, but the declaration did not come with additional funding.

Trump also recognized special guest Ryan Holets, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officer who was seated in first lady Melania Trump's guest box.

Holets and his wife adopted the baby of a pregnant, homeless woman he saw preparing to inject herself with heroin.

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9:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is calling on Congress to pass legislation to generate at least $1.5 trillion to upgrade the nation's roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Trump is using his State of the Union address to appeal to Republicans and Democrats to come together to provide the safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure that he says the economy needs to thrive and Americans deserve.

The president says every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments, and tapping private-sector investment where appropriate.

Trump says an infrastructure bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process, getting it down to no more than two years and perhaps even one.

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9:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is taking a softer approach to a highly charged issue in his State of the Union speech.

Trump is using the story of 12-year-old Preston Sharp to drive home his case that Americans should stand for the national anthem.

Sharp organized a campaign to put flags on fallen veterans' graves.

Trump says, "Preston's reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem."

Trump has hurled harsh rhetoric against football players who knelt during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.

Trump has said those players should be fired and called on fans to boycott their games.

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9:35 p.m.

Half the House chamber is boisterous and bouncing up and down for standing ovations during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address. The other half is somber and still, amid a sea of black clothes.

It is as if Republicans and Democrats are attending two separate events.

Republicans are applauding and cheering as Trump talks about making America great again, and his late 2017 victory revamping the tax code.

Democrats are barely reacting to Trump's remarks, though they did join in applause for emergency responders and veterans.

As Trump entered the chamber before his speech, nearly all Democrats were seated and quiet in less than 20 seconds. Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey waved a pocket copy of the Constitution.

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9:33 p.m.

President Donald Trump is telling the stories of ordinary people to help illustrate themes in his State of the Union address.

Trump opened by highlighting Ashlee Leppert, a U.S. Coast Guard petty officer who was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. He mentioned firefighter David Dahlberg, who rescued dozens of children trapped in a California summer camp threatened by wildfires.

Trump illustrated the tax cuts he signed into law last year by introducing small-business owners from Ohio. Trump said Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger are giving out raises, hiring workers and expanding their business because of tax code changes.

And then there's Preston Sharp from California. Trump lauded the 12-year-old for starting an effort to place U.S. flags on veterans' graves.

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9:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is celebrating a booming economy in his State of the Union address.

Trump says 2.4 million jobs have been created since his election and says wages are going up.

He's talking up the unemployment rate and says the stock market "has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value."

Trump is also promising that millions of Americans will be taking home more pay starting next month thanks to the "massive" tax cuts he signed into law at the end of 2017.

Republicans are looking for Trump to help convince the country that they've made progress while in charge ahead of the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
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9:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the state of the union is strong "because our people are strong."

And he adds that together "we are building a safe, strong and proud America."

Trump opened his first State of the Union address Tuesday night by recognizing the bravery of Americans who helped each other through a series of devastating hurricanes, wildfires and mass shootings during his first year in office.

He also paid tribute to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. The Louisiana Republican was severely wounded last year when a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers as they practiced for an upcoming congressional baseball game.

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9:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is kicking off his State of the Union speech with recollections of the year past.

Trump is talking about the hurricanes that devastated states including Florida and Texas, and the wildfires that ripped through Texas.

He says, "We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship."

He's telling those affected by the devastation that "we are with you" and "we will pull through together."

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9:10 p.m.

The parents of Otto Warmbier, the American student who died of injuries suffered in North Korean custody, are in the audience at the State of the Union.

That's according to a congressional source who requested anonymity because the invitation hadn't been announced.

Trump was expected to pay tribute to Warmbier's parents, Fred and Cindy, during Tuesday's speech.

Trump is trying to prevent North Korea from obtaining a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver one.

Warmbier was imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months and died shortly after being returned to the U.S. He visited North Korea with a Chinese tourist company.

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9:06 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order to keep the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay open.

Trump said during his campaign that he wanted to keep Guantanamo open and "load it up with some bad dudes." But the White House announcement just before Tuesday's State of the Union address marks a formal reversal of President Barack Obama's eight-year effort to close the detention center.

The order preserves military detention as a counterterrorism tool by keeping the prison open.

President George W. Bush opened Guantanamo after Sept. 11 to hold and interrogate suspected enemy combatants. At its peak in 2003, it held about 680 detainees.

Bush transferred about 500 out before leaving office. Obama transferred 197 detainees out, leaving 41.

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9:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in the House chamber to deliver his first State of the Union address.

Cheers and applause rang out as Trump was introduced by the Sergeant at Arms.

Trump shook hands with lawmakers, waved and pointed at some as he inched his way down the center aisle.

Nearly every Democratic lawmaker stopped clapping seconds after the president entered the chamber. Many remained seated.

Trump accented his dark suit with a bright blue tie for the occasion.

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9 p.m.

Melania Trump received a standing ovation as she entered the House chamber to take her seat for the State of the Union address.

The first lady — wearing a white Dior pantsuit — arrived at the Capitol before President Donald Trump, a change from last year, when they rode together in the limousine.

Mrs. Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, says the first lady went early to accompany guests whose stories amplify the president's agenda and who will sit in her guest box.

The first lady hadn't been seen in public with Trump since The Wall Street Journal reported this month that, in 2016, Trump's lawyer paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair she had with Trump. Daniels issued a statement Tuesday denying the affair.

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8:55 p.m.

Democrats crowding the House chamber are letting buttons — and the color of their clothes — send messages.

Many are wearing rectangular lapel buttons that say "TIME'S UP," a statement against workplace sexual harassment. Several members of Congress have ended their careers lately over harassment allegations, and the buttons were distributed at a morning meeting of Democratic lawmakers.

Some are wearing red buttons that say "RECY." That is a tribute to Recy Taylor, a black woman from a rural Alabama sharecropping family who was gang-raped by six white men in 1944. No charges were brought despite confessions, but her case became a galvanizing force for the civil rights movement.

Virtually all Democratic women are dressed in black, a show of support for the #MeToo movement.

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8:25 p.m.

First lady Melania Trump has traveled to Capitol Hill separately from her husband, President Donald Trump, ahead of his State of the Union speech.

That's a change from last year, when the first couple made the trip up Pennsylvania Avenue in the same vehicle.

Mrs. Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, says the first lady went early, accompanying a group of guests for the speech whose stories amplify the president's agenda. Grisham says the first lady and Karen Pence held an "intimate meet-and-greet" at the Capitol for the guests. A White House official says Mrs. Trump is expected to ride back to the White House with her husband after the speech.

Mrs. Trump hadn't been seen in public with her husband since The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that in 2016, Trump's lawyer paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair she said she had with the future president. Daniels on Tuesday issued a statement denying the affair happened.

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President Donald Trump will call for a "new American moment" in Tuesday night's State of the Union address, as he seeks to rally a deeply divided nation and infuse his presidency with a sense of optimism, for at least one high-profile night.

According to excerpts released ahead of the prime-time address, the president will declare that there has "never been a better time to start living the American dream." He's calling on lawmakers in both parties to join forces to modernize the nation's crumbling infrastructure and revamp immigration policies to focus on "the best interests of American workers and American families."

"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 said in the excerpts.

It's unclear if Trump's rhetoric will be matched by any real overtures to Democrats. Partisanship in Washington has only deepened in the year since Trump has taken office, driven in part by the president's bitingly personal attacks on his political rivals and Democrats' criticism of his policies and behavior.

The divisions that have gripped Congress throughout Trump's presidency were on full display in the hours before his speech. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., sparked controversy by calling for the arrest and deportation of any "illegal aliens" who attempted to attend the address. More than 20 Democratic lawmakers had invited so-called Dreamers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and living here illegally. The immigrants could face deportation in March unless Congress acts.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said he disagreed with Gosar's position.

The annual presidential address to Congress and millions of Americans watching at home is traditionally a commander in chief's biggest platform to speak to the nation. However, Trump has redefined presidential communications with his high-octane, filter-free Twitter account, and there's no guarantee that the carefully crafted speech will resonate beyond his next tweet.

Trump was quiet Tuesday on Twitter, and the White House sought to focus attention on his big speech. Officials said Trump had spent months giving aides "tidbits" about lines he wanted to use in the speech and was assisted in its crafting by national security adviser H.R. McMaster and economy adviser Gary Cohn.

The economy will be the centerpiece of Trump's address, which is expected to run about an hour. Though the current trajectory of lower unemployment and higher growth began under President Barack Obama, Trump argues that the tax overhaul he signed into law late last year has boosted business confidence and will lead companies to reinvest in the United States.

According to the speech excerpts, Trump will herald the tax plan, which slashed rates for businesses and the wealthy while delivering more modest gains for most Americans, as a "tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the president should thank his predecessor for the economy during Tuesday's address, but predicted that was unlikely to happen.

"Here are two words we won't hear President Trump say tonight about the economy: 'Thanks, Obama,'" Schumer said.

Considering the strength of the economy, Trump is stepping before the nation in a remarkably weak position.

He's been shadowed for months by a special counsel investigation into possible connections between his campaign and Russia. His approval rating has hovered in the 30s for much of his presidency and at the close of 2017, just 3 in 10 Americans said the United States was heading in the right direction, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In the same survey, 67 percent of Americans said the country was more divided because of Trump.

It's unlikely Trump will be able to rely on robust legislative accomplishments to reverse those numbers in 2018. Congress has struggled with the basic function of funding the government, prompting a brief federal shutdown earlier this month that was resolved only with a short-term fix that pushed the spending deadline to Feb. 8.

Against the backdrop of the spending fight, Republicans and Democrats are also wrestling with the future of some 700,000 young immigrants living in the United States illegally. Trump has pledged to protect the "Dreamers" from deportation but is also calling for changes to legal immigration that are controversial with both parties.

The Democrats are hardly in a mood to compromise with Trump ahead of the midterm elections. Lawmakers see his unpopularity as a key to their success in November, and are eager to mobilize Democratic voters itching to deliver the president and his party a defeat at the ballot box.

Trump also was expected to use the speech to talk about the fate of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Trump, who vowed during his campaign to load Guantanamo up with "bad dudes," has long been expected to rescind Obama's 2009 order to close the prison.

Democrats, seeking to set the tone for their election-year strategy, tapped Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, to deliver a post-speech rebuttal aimed at casting his party, not Trump, as the champion of the middle class.

Kennedy, according to excerpts of his remarks, will also level a veiled takedown of Trump, declaring: "Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future."

A number of Democrats planned to boycott the president's remarks. And some Democratic women planned to wear black to protest sexual harassment, an issue that has tarnished several lawmakers in both parties. Trump himself has been accused of assault or harassment by more than a dozen women, accusations he has denied.

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that the president's lawyer arranged a payment to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, to prevent her from talking about an alleged affair she had with the future president. In a new statement Tuesday, Daniels said the affair never happened.

First lady Melania Trump, who has largely stayed out of the spotlight following those allegations, will attend Tuesday's address, according to the White House. She'll be joined in the audience by several guests whose stories amplify the president's agenda, including an Ohio welder who the White House says will benefit from the new tax law and the parents of two Long Island teenagers who were believed to have been killed by MS-13 gang members.