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Trump’s State of the Union Address: Touchy Topics and Words to Own

SMU News

Originally Posted: February 5, 2019

This is an excerpt from an SMU news release. To read the full article click here.

SMU experts are available to analyze political landmines and presidential goals in the runup to the Feb. 5 State of the Union address.

Ignore the Talk of Impeachment?

Jeffrey Engel, director, SMU Center for Presidential History


“Our last two presidents to face such open talk of impeachment chose different tacks in addressing the issue during their State of the Union,” Engel said. “Richard Nixon mentioned it, seven months before he was forced from office one step ahead of the impeachment posse: It was time to bring the Watergate investigations to an end, he said. Bill Clinton addressed the nation during his impeachment trial, but he didn’t mention it at all, realizing the political winds already blew strongly in the direction of his acquittal in the Senate.

“What will Trump do? Rarely has anyone ever made money betting on Trump choosing silence over bluster, and tutored in his political youth by those who saw Nixon as a mentor, bluster is his likely path forward.”

What Trump’s Base Needs to Hear

Matthew Wilson, SMU associate professor of political science


“Trump’s base needs to hear that he remains committed to border security, and will achieve it one way or another,” Wilson said. “I don’t know that Trump’s base is shrinking, but it’s definitely not growing, and it was never more than a third of the electorate.  His electoral winning coalition was razor-thin to begin with, and he has done nothing to reach out to new constituencies. The danger is that many moderate Republicans who were not Trump ‘base’ voters, but who gave him a chance in 2016, have been alienated and will either stay home or defect in 2020.”