Six Key Questions Ahead of Biden’s State of the Union

The State of the Union address on Thursday is likely to be President Biden’s best opportunity before November to tell Americans at length about his record in office and what he would do in a second term.

It’s not technically a campaign speech, since he will deliver it in his official capacity from the floor of the House of Representatives, but for American presidents in the last year of their first term, the annual address represents the kickoff to their re-election effort.

Mr. Biden will deliver the speech, which typically runs for an hour or more, from a position of political vulnerability but with a host of policy accomplishments to play up. And it comes just as the long-anticipated matchup between him and his predecessor, former President Donald J. Trump, is settling into place.

The speech will address big themes like Mr. Biden’s attempts to restore democracy, and highlight smaller, more personal policy changes his administration has enacted, such as fighting credit card fees and lowering prescription drug costs, the White House told allies in a briefing about the speech Wednesday, according to a person who attended the session.

Here are six questions facing Mr. Biden before he steps to the rostrum on Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern.

What will his overarching 2024 message be?

This one is pretty simple: Donald Trump is a dire threat to democracy and Americans’ freedoms.

How fine a point Mr. Biden puts on this message in the State of the Union is a different question. It would break with decades of political tradition to attack a campaign rival by name during the address, but Mr. Biden and allied Democrats have argued throughout his campaign that 2024 may be an inflection point that calls for unusual measures.

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