Trump hails the ‘great American comeback’
Donald Trump has hailed the “great American comeback” during his State Of The Union address.
The US president said to members of Congress: “In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny.
“We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back.”
The president’s 80-minute speech came after he became the third in history to be impeached and as his trial is under way in the Senate with the verdict due later on Wednesday.
But he focused on economic progress, putting this forward as the main reason voters should give him a second term in November.
Mr Trump congratulated his administration for “restoring our nation’s manufacturing might, even though predictions were that this could never be done”.
Some 12,000 factories had been opened since his inauguration in January 2017, he said, despite Federal Reserve figures showing that factory output has fallen by 1.3% over the past 12 months.
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He criticised the Obama administration, saying more than 300,000 working-age people had dropped out of the workforce during those eight years, while 3.5 million had joined the workforce since he came to power.
His words contradicted Labor Department figures showing the workforce grew by just over 5 million during the Obama presidency. Figures from the same department show the workforce grew by 4.86 million in just under three years under Mr Trump.
He also vowed to “never let socialism destroy American healthcare”, saying: “A good life for American families also requires the most affordable, innovative, and high-quality healthcare system on earth.”
But Democrats stood and chanted “HR3! HR3” in reference to a bill passed by the House that requires the government’s medicare programme to negotiate lower prices for insulin and other drugs Americans need.
Republicans applauded Mr Trump at regular intervals and gave standing ovations, while Democrats remained seated or even refused to attend the speech.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was sitting behind Mr Trump and was often seen shaking her head.
Mrs Pelosi authorised impeachment proceedings charging the president with abusing the power of his office.
Mr Trump did not shake her hand as he entered the chamber but it was not clear if he had seen it.
Later she was seen ripping up a copy of his speech.