WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump goes into his State of the Union speech on Tuesday (Feb 4) gloating over the Democrats' chaotic Iowa caucuses, sure of acquittal in his impeachment trial, and more optimistic than ever of reelection.
The Republican is turning what could have been the darkest week of his administration – with years of scandals crescendoing to only the third presidential impeachment trial in US history – into a victory lap.
And the Iowa Democrats' mess up of the start of the primary season gifted him yet another boost.
"Nothing works, just like they ran the country," Trump said on Twitter after the party announced it was delaying results of the Iowa contest due to a technical malfunction.
The State of the Union is a grand set-piece in the US political calendar, a rare occasion when bitter opponents traditionally observe a truce while the president lays out a vision for the future.
Trump, however, will take the short trip up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol by motorcade on the eve of his impeachment verdict and at a time of escalating national tension.
The White House promises the president will deliver an upbeat message on taking the podium at around 9.00pm (0200 GMT Wednesday).
"I think the speech is going to have a very optimistic tone," a senior aide, who refused to be identified, told reporters.
Judging from the White House's preview, it could sound a lot like an election speech, focusing on the economy and the "great American comeback" – a phrase echoing Trump's slogan, "Make American Great Again."
Among Trump's personal guests will be a senior border patrol officer, a woman whose brother was murdered by an illegal immigrant in 2018, and former Caracas police chief Ivan Simonovis who spent years in jail under Venezuela's far-left government.
The symbolism for a president who campaigns relentlessly against what he calls dangerous illegal immigrants and Democratic plans to bring socialism to the United States is clear.
Democratic party leaders' guests will include some 80 doctors, patients and others symbolising what they say is the Trump administration's failure to tackle health care problems.
The venue will be the House of Representatives, where just last December the Democratic majority impeached the president for abuse of power and obstructing Congress.
Sitting a few feet away will be House speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Trump repeatedly insults in public, calling her "Nervous Nancy" and other nicknames.
A sea of hostile Democratic legislators will watch him from the seats, as will the Republicans who hold a majority in the Senate and are all but sure to declare him not guilty in the impeachment verdict vote on Wednesday.
The speech could in theory be an opportunity to heal a nation boiling over in mistrust.
Trump could express regret for what even several of his own Republican senators publicly say was wrongful behavior in pushing Ukraine to open a questionable corruption probe against one of his main Democratic presidential opponents, Joe Biden.
Or he could seek to calm the waters by entirely avoiding the topic of impeachment, just as Bill Clinton did during his post-impeachment State of the Union in 1999.
Hours before the speech, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the "I" word would be absent.
"I read the speech and the word 'impeachment's' not in it," he told Fox News.
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