Trump’s State of the Union speech sparks reaction in New Jersey

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

All day Tuesday there was talk that President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech would be about unity and bipartisanship. There were moments when that’s what it was about.

“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” Trump said.

There were also moments that could be called divisive, or at least, combative.

“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”

The big question going into the speech, according to one pundit, was would it change the atmosphere in Washington?

“I think there’s a zero percent chance it’s going to change the atmosphere. I think that, you know, you look historically and the biggest bump that anyone has gotten out of a State of the Union speech is Bill Clinton in 1998. He went up 10 points,” said Seton Hall political science professor Matt Hale. “The biggest downfall was the first President Bush, he went down seven points. Almost all of the other speeches, it’s a one or two point up or down. So I really don’t think it’s going to change the climate. I don’t think he successfully reached out very much. I think it was a safe speech for him.”

From a Jersey perspective, newly-minted Congressman Jeff Van Drew had to tap the president’s coat sleeve three times but finally got him to turn around and deliver a handshake.

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill was one of several dozen women Democrats who dressed in white in honor of the suffrage movement.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and Sen. Loretta Weinberg were there as guests of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Oliver told NJTV News by phone Wednesday that she thought the speech writer was brilliant and Trump won’t be easy to defeat in 2020.

“If he continues to go around the country speaking as he did last night, he will debunk the myth that he is some crazed person who should have never have been in the presidency. But I don’t think he possesses the self-control to communicate on the campaign trail as he communicated last night while reading a teleprompter,” Oliver said.

Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement, “Unity requires empathy for the most vulnerable. Without it, it will remain up to the states to show the way.”

Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci told NJTV News Wednesday, “The speech was Reaganesque, especially the first 5 or 10 minutes.”

Among the topics missing from the State of the Union: climate change, racism and guns.