WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to outline a bipartisan and optimistic vision of the country, a senior administration official said on Friday.
It could be a difficult sell.
In the past few weeks, as he has tried to navigate his way out of a political standoff with Democrats, Mr. Trump has ramped up his anti-immigration messaging, stormed out of meetings with Democratic leaders and refused to accept any compromise that does not ultimately include funding for a border wall.
And while the White House said on Friday that the goal of the speech was to bring together a divided government and a divided nation, the official said immigration would emerge as the main theme.
Mr. Trump is also expected to make an appeal to his evangelical anti-abortion base by talking about the “fundamental importance and respect for human life,” the official said. And he will focus a large portion of his remarks on the importance of ending illegal immigration.
But the official, who refused to be identified according to the ground rules of the briefing, framed the speech as an opportunity to change the tone of the current political debate.
“Together we can break decades of political stalemate,” Mr. Trump is expected to say, according to an excerpt from the speech shared by the official. “We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.”
The overarching theme of the speech, the official said, will be “Choosing Greatness,” and it will focus on issues where there is a possibility of bipartisan consensus: infrastructure, lowering health care and prescription drug costs, protecting American workers affected by what he described as “decades of flawed trade deals” and safeguarding national security.
The president will also call on Congress to replace what he described as the “Nafta disaster” with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and discuss the trading relationship with China.
In his first State of the Union address last year, Mr. Trump also sought to strike a unifying tone that was a contrast to the political attacks and divisive messaging that he is better known for. But the promises in last year’s speech, including bringing Democrats and Republicans together behind a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, have not materialized, while the more contentious policies of his presidency have continued.
This year, Mr. Trump will address the nation after a 35-day government shutdown caused by his insistence that Congress approve funding for the border wall. And although the president agreed to three weeks of negotiations to end the impasse, he said on Thursday that the talks are “a waste of time” and strongly hinted that he would declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and obtain wall funding.
Mr. Trump suggested on Friday that he would announce his decision on declaring a national emergency during the State of the Union speech.
“I don’t want to say,” he told reporters when asked if he was planning to do so. “You’ll hear the State of the Union and let’s see what happens,” he said.
White House officials have been warning him against the action, but they also view it as a potential last-ditch exit ramp if they cannot find another face-saving solution.
Last month, in the midst of the shutdown, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the president she wanted to postpone the address, initially scheduled for Jan. 29, until after the government reopened, and suggested he deliver the speech in writing.
Mr. Trump retaliated by grounding the military plane that was supposed to take Ms. Pelosi and other lawmakers on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan. Then, when Mr. Trump pressed ahead, insisting he wanted to give the speech, Ms. Pelosi disinvited him. But this week she and the president agreed he would give the speech on Feb. 5.