President Donald Trump on Tuesday night delivered his maiden State of the Union address, which largely sought to unify the country and sought for bipartisanship involving Democrats and Republicans.
Trump’s address to the joint session of U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, which he delivered over more than an hour, came amid a divided America, including a sharp political divide fuelled by some of the president’s policies.
The president’s speech, broadcast live by networks and monitored by the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), addressed contentious issues of immigration, terrorism, healthcare, economy, bipartisanship and America’s diversity.
“I am here to deliver a message of unity,” Trump started the address, and went ahead immediately to pay tribute to the Black History Month and condemning semitism, in what is largely viewed as his best speech ever.
“Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centres and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”
“The time for trivial fights is behind us,” the president added, intermittently drawing applause and standing ovation from Republicans, while appealing to sense of reasoning from Democrats to put partisanship ahead and work for the interest of America and Americans.
The president used the address to update Americans on his presidency since the past five weeks and laying bare his plans for the American people.
In a sharp departure from the past, Trump’s address for the more than one hour was devoid of his usual attacks on the media, political opponents, immigrants and historical allies.
“I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children.
“These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them,” he said.
On the controversial travel ban, the president said “I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible”.
Trump condemned violence against religious minorities and stressed his vow to destroy the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“I directed the Department of Defence to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS – a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs.
“We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,” he said.
Trump, who touted his “make America great again” slogan throughout the speech, however, declared that “I am elected to represent the interest of America, not to represent the whole world.