US President Joe Biden delivered the final State of the Union of his first term on Thursday, which saw him fiercely take on former President and Republican front-runner Donald Trump, criticise Israel and vow to stand up to China and its unfair economic practise.

The fiery speech that came during the pivotal election year set the stage for Biden’s campaign launch and rematch with Trump later this year. 

The President, in a 68-minute speech that sought to allay fears and concerns over his physical and mental health, went after Trump for the January 6 insurrection, criticising his recent comments about Russia and NATO, though he never mentioned him by name. 

“Now my predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin, quote, ‘Do whatever you want,” Biden said. “I think it’s outrageous, it’s dangerous and it’s unacceptable.”

“My predecessor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about Jan. 6,” said Biden, as he mentioned that “democracy is threatened like no time since the Civil War.”

He also homed in on abortion rights, stating those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade had no clue about the power of women in America. “If Americans send me a Congress that supports the right to choose I promise you: I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again.” “He’s the reason it was overturned and brags about it,” Biden said of Trump, who appointed the conservative majority to the high court that overturned Roe. The Supreme Court struck down Roe vs Wade in 2022 and three of the six conservative judges on the nine-member court were appointed by Trump. 

Biden also had a message for Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he said he “would not walk away” from supporting. Biden has been pushing Congress to provide additional funding to Ukraine for its war with Russia.

About Israel’s invasion of Gaza, Biden said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was “intolerable” and said Israel has a responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians. He also used the opportunity to announce plans for the U.S. military to help establish a temporary pier on the coast of Gaza, to boost the flow of aid into the besieged territory.

He also called on the Israelis to do more to alleviate the suffering even as they try to eliminate Hamas. “To Israel, I say this humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip,” Biden said.

Biden also highlighted the post-Covid economic recovery and laid out the administration’s plans to revamp the tax code, expand housing supply and reduce the federal budget deficit. 

He also mentioned India in his speech, stating that the US will revitalise partnerships with nations like India amidst China’s rise.

Stating that the US wants competition with China, but not conflict, Biden said the US was in a stronger position to win the competition for the 21st Century against Beijing. “We are standing up against China’s unfair economic practice, standing up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait but revitalising our partnership with allies and the Pacific, India. Australia, Japan, South and Korea,” he said.

“For years, all I’ve heard from my Republican friends and so many others is that China’s on the rise and America is falling behind. They’ve got it backwards. America is rising,” he said.

“Since I’ve come to office, our GDP is up. And our trade deficit with China is down to the lowest point in over a decade,” he said  “I’ve made sure that the most advanced American technologies can’t be used in China’s weapons.  Frankly, for all his tough talk on China, it never occurred to my predecessor to do that,” Biden said.

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