Factbox-What to watch for in Biden's State of the Union address

State of the Union address

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Thursday will deliver his last State of the Union address before the 2024 U.S. presidential election. Here are a few things to look for in the speech:


Guests are carefully chosen to reflect the priorities of Biden and lawmakers. They include Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who was in Washington as Sweden formally joined NATO on Thursday, two years after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Other White House guests include people affected by in vitro fertilization or abortion restrictions, a veteran of the 1965 Bloody Sunday attack on Black civil rights marchers in Selma, Alabama, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain and others.

Ukraine's first lady, Olena Zelenska, and the wife of the late Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya, were both asked to attend the speech by the White House but declined the invitation.


If last year's State of the Union is any guide, Republicans loyal to Trump who fought most of Biden's legislative proposals for the past year could provide a raucous audience.

Meanwhile, a number of liberal lawmakers angry over Biden's staunch support of Israel are expected to wear pins in support of efforts to obtain a ceasefire.

Anti-war activists demanding a ceasefire in Gaza plan a protest near the White House on Thursday evening, hours ahead of Biden's State of the Union address. Scattered protests were also planned in some other cities during the course of the day, including one that blocked traffic and led to arrests on Thursday morning in Boston.

The demonstrations were planned by pro-Palestinian activists and Jewish groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, they said in statements on social media.


On taxes, Biden is set to renew his quest to make wealthy Americans and large corporations pay more, unveiling new proposals, including higher minimum taxes for companies and Americans with wealth over $100 million.

Here are some other key areas of focus:

INFLATION: Biden will push for new measures to lower housing costs, including a $10,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

PHARMACEUTICALS: Biden will also call to expand the number of drugs subject to annual Medicare price negotiations, the White House said.

IMMIGRATION: It remained to be seen whether Biden would announce any new steps on immigration as voters rank illegal border crossings high on their list of concerns. Biden is expected to voice support for proposed border legislation that Republicans have stalled.

Most of the measures - and others on guns and illegal drugs - require congressional support that will be hard to come by in a closely divided Congress.


An estimated 27.3 million people watched Biden's address that was aired on 16 television networks last year, an unusually large audience for one of his speeches, according to Nielsen.

The White House was eager to reach an even broader audience, and was briefing nearly 70 "influencers" and content creators on Biden's State of the Union remarks, in an effort to reach younger voters who will not tune in.

These influencers have a combined audience of over 100 million followers across social media platforms, they said.

The White House also published a video of Biden taking advice from actors who have played presidents in the past such as Morgan Freeman, Bill Pullman and Michael Douglas.

"I've never spoken to so many presidents all at one time," Biden said, while looking at the group over a video call.

Freeman, who played president in the movie "Deep Impact," said he came out of his role with the idea that speeches should show "hope."

Bill Pullman, reflecting on his role in "Independence Day" said, "I had it easy - we just had invaders from outer space coming in, wanting to mess with us, and that tends to unify people."


Biden's reelection campaign plans to dig into Trump on abortion, the economy and taxes and policies toward Black Americans and Latinos during the speech and in travel by Biden and his team in the days after, strategy memos showed.

"We intend to remind voters of the chaos and lasting damage Trump caused as president," the campaign said.

Whether his announcements are enough to woo less enthusiastic members of Biden's base of support remain to be seen.

The NAACP civil rights group released a "Black policy agenda" for Biden's address that asks him to make more progress securing voting rights and criminal justice reform.

"Black voters refuse to remain tone-deaf to the reality of actions, or lack thereof, on behalf of any politician," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Nandita Bose, Ahmed Aboulenein, David Lawder and Kanishka Singh; Compiled by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)