'I believe in America': Fired-up Biden uses State of the Union to skewer GOP, his 'predecessor'

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President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday night.

The speech provided Biden one of his biggest audiences of the year as he made his case for a second term and contrasted his vision of the country's future with Republicans ahead of what's expected to be a lengthy general election fight with former President Donald Trump.

ABC News live-blogged every major moment and highlight from the speech, with 538 providing analysis and a closer look at the polling and data behind the politicians.

Latest Developments

Mar 7, 11:32 PM

Final thoughts: Biden gave a campaign speech

Going into the evening, I think many viewers expected to hear something like a campaign speech from Biden, and that’s what he delivered. While he did ask Congress to pass a bipartisan immigration bill and spent time on other policy issues like abortion, housing and foreign policy, it was less a policy laundry list than most State of the Union speeches.

He worked to paint himself as a brighter, more forward-thinking choice than Trump, whom he only referred to as “my predecessor.” As my ABC News colleagues reported, Biden talked about his history in politics and tackled the issue of his age head on, but the end of his speech was about his hope for the future.

By comparison, Alabama Sen. Katie Britt’s Republican response to the speech was bleak and painted a dark picture of the country, especially at the southern border.

It echoed Trump’s "American carnage" inaugural address, though Britt avoided mentioning the former president by name.

That's a good preview of how the presidential race is likely to unfold: Republicans will paint Biden as a failure who has presided over a U.S. in decline, while Biden will work to focus attention on the progress he feels his administration has made and can continue to make.

-Monica Potts, 538

Mar 7, 11:30 PM

Britt calls Biden a 'dithering and diminished leader' and signals hope for the future

Senator Katie Britt called out Biden's age in her State of the Union response, saying, "The free world deserves better than a dithering and diminished leader."

"America deserves leaders who recognize that secure borders, stable prices, safe streets and a strong defense are actually the cornerstones of a great nation," Britt said.

The Alabama Senator called on the Nation to reflect on Biden's last three years in office.

"Just ask yourself, are you better off now than you were three years ago?" Britt questioned. "There is no doubt we are at a crossroads and it doesn't have to be this way."

Closing her response, Britt called on voters to "reawaken the heroic spirit of great nation" and shared hope for the future.

"America, we don't just have a rendezvous with destiny. We take destiny's hand and we lead it," Britt said. "I believe with every fiber of my being, that despite the current state of our union, our best days are still ahead."

Mar 7, 11:56 PM

Britt says the 'American dream has turned into a nightmare'

In her response to Biden's State of the Union address, Senator Katie Britt called out the President for the strife of families across the Nation, saying, "The American dream has turned into a nightmare for so many families."

Britt used her personal experience as an example in her response, "My American dream allowed me, the daughter of two small business owners from rural enterprise Alabama, to be elected to the United States senate at the age of 40."

"The country we know and love seems to be slipping away and it feels like the next generation will have fewer opportunities and less freedoms than we did," Britt continued.

"The true, unvarnished state of our union begins and ends with this: our families are hurting. Our country can do better," Britt said.

Mar 7, 11:58 PM

Britt addresses border security, Laken Riley's killing

Sen. Katie Britt called Biden's border policies over the past three years a "disgrace" and "senseless."

"This crisis is despicable. And the truth is, it is almost entirely preventable," she said. "From fentanyl poisonings to horrific murders, there are empty chairs tonight at kitchen tables just like this one."

Britt mentioned Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student who was killed last month on the University of Georgia's campus. The suspect in her murder is a Venezuelan migrant whom officials say was illegally in the U.S.

"She was brutally murdered by one of the millions of illegal border crossers President Biden chose to release into our homeland," Britt said. "Y’all, as a mom, I can't quit thinking about this. I mean, this could have been my daughter. This could have been yours. And tonight, President Biden finally said her name, but he refused to take responsibility for his own actions."

Mar 7, 11:56 PM

Inflation has fallen in recent months

Britt said inflation was "at a 40-year-high." That was true in June 2022, when year-over-year inflation hit 9.1%, but it's fallen in recent months. What is true is that inflation is affecting Americans: 63% said price increases have caused financial hardship in a Gallup poll from January.

-Monica Potts, 538

Mar 7, 11:23 PM

Sen. Katie Britt delivers GOP response

Sen. Katie Britt is giving the GOP response to Biden's address from her home in Alabama.

She said she is worried about the future of the country and called Biden an "out-of-touch," "permanent politician" who has been in office "longer than I have been alive."

Britt, 42, is the youngest GOP woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate.

PHOTO: Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama delivers the Republican response following President Biden's State of the Union speech, Mar. 7, 2024. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama delivers the Republican response following President Biden's State of the Union speech, Mar. 7, 2024. (ABC News)

Mar 7, 10:46 PM

Biden closes address: 'I see a future for all Americans'

In closing out his address, Biden spoke to the future he envisions in America -- one where democracy is defended, not diminished, and rights are protected, not taken away.

"I see a future where the middle class finally has a fair shot and the wealthy have to pay their fair share in taxes," he said. "I see a future where we save the planet from the climate crisis and our country from gun violence."

"Above all, I see a future for all Americans," he said. "I see a country for all Americans."

As he gears up for the general election, he spoke of a united country and said he will "always be a president for all Americans."

Mar 7, 11:02 PM

Biden address his age, a key issue for his reelection campaign

As Biden began to wrap up his speech, he made his first reference to his age: an issue polling has shown is a major concern for voters.

The remark mixed Biden's strategy for quelling such doubts: self-deprecating humor and assurances that age equals wisdom.

"I know I may not look like it, but I’ve been around a while," he joked. "And when you get to my age certain things become clearer than ever before."

"My lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy," he said. "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."

He added: "Now some other people my age see a different story. An American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That’s not me."

Continuing to swipe indirectly at Trump, who is 77, Biden said it's Trump who will move the country in the wrong direction.

"My fellow Americans, the issue facing our nation isn’t how old we are, it’s how old our ideas are. Hate, anger, revenge, retribution are among the oldest of ideas. But you can’t lead America with ancient ideas that only take us back."

Mar 7, 10:46 PM

Biden: 'Israel must do its part'

While discussing his directive to establish a temporary pier to get more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, Biden said that "Israel must do its part"

"Israel must allow more aid to Gaza and ensure humanitarian workers are not caught in the crossfire," Biden said.

Addressing Israel's leaders, Biden said: "Humanitarian assistance cannot be second or a bargaining chip. Protecting and saving lives has to be a priority."

Mar 7, 10:46 PM

Biden expresses sympathy for Israeli hostages and victims of Hamas

Biden addressed the "gut-wrenching" months since the Oct. 7 attack in Israel and expressed sympathy for the Israeli, Palestinian and Americans affected by the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

"I know the last five months have been gut-wrenching for so many people, for the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, and so many here in America," Biden said.

Biden referred to Oct. 7 as "The deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust" and addressed the those who endured sexual violence during the attack.

"This crisis began on Oct. 7 with a massacre by the terrorist group Hamas," Biden said. "1,200 innocent people women and girls men and boys slaughtered, many enduring sexual violence."

Biden called out the families of the American hostages who are in attendance Thursday.

"I pledge to all the families that we will not rest until we bring their loved ones home."

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