President Biden's 2023 State of the Union address

By Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury, Tori B. Powell, Amir Vera, Melissa Macaya and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 12:11 PM ET, Wed February 8, 2023
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12:59 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

CNN flash poll: Here's what viewers thought of Biden's address

From CNN's Ariel Edwards-Levy and Jennifer Agiesta

A 72% majority of Americans who watched President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address had a positive reaction to the speech, according to a CNN Poll conducted by SSRS, with a smaller 34% reacting very positively.

That pattern of broad but tempered enthusiasm is similar to the reception for Biden’s speech last year. In 2022, 71% of speech-watchers reacted positively to his address, with 41% saying their reaction was very positive.

Good marks from speech-watchers are typical for presidential addresses to Congress – in past years, most viewers reported positive reactions to third-year addresses from former presidents Donald Trump (76% positive), Barack Obama (84% positive) and George W. Bush (84% positive). The 34% who reacted very positively to Biden’s speech is the lowest in CNN’s speech reaction polls dating back to 1998.

Biden’s speech received a particularly warm reception from Democrats (62% had a very positive reaction), liberals (57% very positive) and older speech-watchers (52% very positive among those age 65 or older). Among those younger than 45, though, just 21% reported a very positive reaction, even as speech-watchers in this age group were just as likely as those age 65 or older to say that Biden’s policies would move the country in the right direction (75% younger than 45 said so, as did 76% of those age 65 or older). 

State of the Union addresses rarely have major, lasting impact on presidents’ approval numbers, particularly in recent years. But Biden’s speech did bolster confidence in his policies among some who tuned in. Following the speech, 71% of speech watchers said they felt the policies Biden proposed would move the country in the right direction, versus 29% who said they would move things in the wrong direction. In a survey conducted before the speech, those same people were closer to evenly split (52% right direction, 47% wrong direction).

The biggest movement came among those who were skeptical of Biden to begin with. Among those who said in the pre-speech survey that they disapproved of the way Biden is handling his presidency, just 7% said before the speech that they thought Biden’s proposed policies would move the country in the right direction, rising to 45% post-speech. And among political independents, the share saying Biden’s policies would move the country in the right direction rose from 40% pre-speech to 66% afterwards.

Overall, 66% who watched the address said that Biden’s policies would move the country in the right direction on the economy – that’s in comparison to 62% of speech-watchers who said the same about his economic policies following his speech last year, and 72% following Biden’s first presidential address to Congress in 2021. The share of viewers this year who felt Biden’s economic policies would mark a shift in the right direction rose 16 percentage points following his speech. That shift was also heavily concentrated among independents, who went from 38% saying his economic proposals would move things in the right direction pre-speech to 64% post-speech. 

A two-thirds majority also said that Biden’s policies would move the country in the right direction on foreign affairs (67%) with somewhat more modest majorities saying the same of his policies on gun laws (63%), government spending (59%) and immigration (55%). The share of viewers who said Biden’s immigration policies would move the country in the right direction rose 14 points post-speech. 

Roughly half of Americans who tuned in for the speech, 52%, said that Biden’s proposals struck the right balance ideologically, with 38% calling them too liberal and 11% not liberal enough. Most Biden disapprovers, 68%, called his proposals too liberal.

About two-thirds of all speech watchers, 67%, said Biden did enough to address racial injustice in his speech, though that was notably lower among people of color (58% said he did enough) than among White speech watchers (72%). Majorities overall said he did not do enough to address the US relationship with China (59%) or inflation (55%). 

Slightly over 6 in 10 speech watchers, 62%, said they had at least some confidence in Biden’s ability to provide real leadership for the country, with 28% expressing a lot of confidence. Another 38% said they had no real confidence.

More on the poll: Surveys were conducted by text message with 552 US adults who said they watched the State of the Union on Tuesday, and are representative of the views of speech-watchers only. Respondents were recruited to participate before the speech, and were selected by a survey of members of the SSRS Opinion Panel, a nationally representative panel recruited using probability-based sampling techniques. Results for the full sample of speech-watchers have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points. 

11:50 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Nikki Haley criticizes Biden’s border and economic policies outlined in his State of the Union address

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Former U.N. Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, on June 24, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Former U.N. Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, on June 24, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who plans to announce her 2024 presidential campaign next week, criticized President Joe Biden’s border and economic policies as he delivered his State of the Union address.  

“Joe Biden spin: My economic plan is working. Reality: Americans still can't afford groceries,” she said in the first of 15 tweets posted during the speech. 

The former South Carolina governor then tweeted a video that included news coverage of the record inflation seen under the Biden administration and her commentary on Fox News saying inflation is “the number one issue that American families are talking about.” 

She also focused her attacks on Biden’s border policies and posted a separate video showing media coverage of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. 

“Joe Biden spent two years refusing to tackle the border crisis he created. Mr. President, stop spinning and start doing your job,” Haley tweeted. 

She also attacked Biden over his policies related to China, claimed Russia was “emboldened” because of Biden and argued schools shouldn’t have closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

2:46 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Nancy Pelosi on Republicans during SOTU: "I think they were protesting too much"

From CNN's Jack Forrest

Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN's Jake Tapper that Republicans were "protesting too much" during President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address.

"I think they were protesting too much," she said about Republicans jeering at Biden when he mentioned during his speech that some Republicans considered making cuts to Medicare and Social Security to avoid hitting the debt ceiling.

"They knew that they had been identified as putting Medicare and Social Security on the table, and they were trying to dismiss that, but the fact is, it still is part of who they are," Pelosi said. "They never really supported it to begin with."

The former House speaker famously tore up her copy of former President Donald Trump's 2020 State of the Union speech while sitting directly behind him. The act of protest happened at the conclusion of Trump's address, which began with the former president refusing to shake Pelosi's hand.

Watch Pelosi's comments on CNN:

11:26 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Fact check: Biden on creating 800,000 "good-paying" manufacturing jobs 

From CNN’s Alicia Wallace 

President Biden said, "We’ve already created, with your help, 800,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs, the fastest growth in 40 years." 

Facts First: Biden's figures are correct; however, the "good-paying" qualifier is subjective and can't be independently verified for each of those 800,000-plus positions.  

The US economy added 803,000 manufacturing jobs from Biden's first full month in office, February 2021, through January 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job growth rate during Biden’s first two years in office was 6.58%. The last time a comparable growth rate was higher was in 1979. 

The average hourly wage in the manufacturing industry was $31.57 for all employees and $25.84 for production and non-supervisory positions in January, preliminary BLS data shows. Nationally, the average hourly wage was a projected $33.03

1:28 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Trump releases video criticizing Biden administration

From CNN's Kristen Holmes

Former President Donald Trump released a video message recorded before president Joe Biden’s State of the Union address where he criticized the current administration for inflation, the ongoing border crisis and rising crime rates.  

“Here’s the real State of the Union," Trump opened.

He accused Biden's administration of "waging war on free speech," "leading us to the brink of World War III" and weaponizing the Department of Justice.

“On top of all of that, he's the most corrupt president in American history," he said. "And it's not even close."

At the end of his two-minute video, Trump reminded viewers that he intends to run for president "to end the destruction of our country and to complete the unfinished business of making America great again.”

12:31 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

"Awful, childish": Some Democratic lawmakers criticize GOP members for heckling Biden

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Manu Raju

Senator Joe Manchin is seen in Statuary Hall ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address.
Senator Joe Manchin is seen in Statuary Hall ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin strongly criticized the Republican representatives who heckled President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address, saying it was “awful, childish" and “distasteful."

“No matter who does that, it’s just not acceptable, awful, childish, it’s not who we are as a country,” Manchin said. He also said he “hopes” Speaker Kevin McCarthy “says something about it.” 

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin also added it was “really unbefitting.”

McCarthy didn’t comment to CNN when asked about the heckling from Republicans.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise wouldn’t criticize his members, instead calling on Biden to stop his rhetoric about a GOP push to cut entitlements.

Some context: The yelling started when the president accused some Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare.

The White House has repeatedly accused Republicans of wanting to make cuts to the programs, but McCarthy explicitly said recently that those cuts were off the table. 

11:11 p.m. ET, February 7, 2023

Former VP Mike Pence says State of the Union shows that it's "time for new Republican leadership"

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

Former vice president and potential 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence said on Twitter that President Biden’s State of the Union shows that it’s “time for new Republican leadership” to get back to the Trump-Pence administration’s “strength and prosperity.” 

“Tonight’s #SOTU showed one thing: That it is time for new Republican leadership to get our Nation back to the strength and prosperity we had under the Trump-Pence Administration,” Pence wrote on Twitter.

He then went on to list what he called “Biden’s failed leadership at home,” noting high inflation and gas prices, and Biden’s “failed leadership abroad,” pointing to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the “disastrous” Afghanistan withdrawal.

Pence also argued that Biden’s police reform bill “would be a disaster for law enforcement and the American people they serve. It would leave an under-equipped, underfunded, and demoralized police force even worse off," he said in another tweet.

“If we want to improve policing in America, we can’t kneecap police in America. That will only make police more afraid to do their job and more likely to make a bad decision in the moment,” he added.

1:02 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Romney slams Santos for trying to shake Biden's hand: "He should be sitting in the back row and staying quiet"

From CNN's Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, Morgan Rimmer and Ali Zaslav

Rep. George Santos watches as Biden arrives to deliver his State of the Union address.
Rep. George Santos watches as Biden arrives to deliver his State of the Union address. (Leah Mills/Reuters)

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney recounted a heated interaction during State of the Union with GOP Rep. George Santos. Romney said he told Santos that he doesn’t belong in Congress.

He strongly criticized Santos for standing in the front aisle “trying to shake hands” with President Joe Biden and senators “given the fact that he's under ethics investigation.”

He also told CNN’s Manu Raju that “yes” he’s disappointed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hasn’t called on Santos to resign. 

“He should be sitting in the back row and staying quiet instead of parading in front of the President and people coming into the room,” Romney said, noting that Santos may have responded to his remark but he “didn’t hear.”

Romney, a Republican from Utah, continued to blast Santos saying: “He says he, you know, that he embellished his record. Look, embellishing is saying you got an A when you got an A-. Lying is saying you graduated from a college that you didn't even attend and he shouldn't be in Congress. And they're gonna go through the process and hopefully get him out … But he shouldn't be there and if he had any shame at all, he wouldn't be there.”

2:02 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Rep. Juan Ciscomani delivers GOP Spanish-language response: "We are at a critical point in our nation's history"

Rep. Juan Ciscomani from Arizona delivered the Republican Spanish-language response to the State of the Union address and said the country is at a "critical point" in its history.

Here is what he said in Spanish: “Hoy estamos en un punto crítico en la historia de nuestra nación. Ahora, más que nunca, necesitamos luchar agresivamente por los valores que han hecho posible el sueño americano para tantos. Pero como podemos ver, el presidente Biden y su administración continúan impulsando políticas que lastiman a nuestras familias.”
Here are his comments in English: “We are at a critical point in our nation's history. Now, more than ever, we need to fight for the values that made it possible for so many to live the American Dream. Unfortunately, President Biden and his administration continue to push policies that hurt our families."

More on Ciscomani: When he was elected in November 2022, Ciscomani became the first Latino Republican elected to Congress from Arizona. He was born in Mexico and immigrated to the US with his family as a child, previously worked at the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and was a senior adviser to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

The tradition of a Spanish-language response started in 2004. This year will be the first Spanish response to the address since 2020. 

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered the GOP response in English.