Trump speech to Congress promises ‘renewal of American spirit’

Media captionLIVE: President Trump delivers his first address to joint session of Congress

President Donald Trump has promised a “renewal of the American spirit”, in his first speech to Congress.

The president said a “new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp”, opening a “new chapter of American greatness”.

Mr Trump condemned recent vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and a hate crime in Kansas that left an Indian man dead.

His primetime address seeks to boost his low approval ratings after a bumpy start to his presidency.

Mr Trump said recent alleged hate crimes “remind us that while we may be a nation divided in policy we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its very ugly forms”.

Why Trump’s big speech matters

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Image caption President Trump appeared to rehearse his speech as he left the White House bound for Congress

In his speech, Mr Trump also touted his decisions to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and order the government to start working on a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The president’s political honeymoon has been soured by acrimonious spats with the media and the intelligence community, a high-profile court defeat to his controversial travel ban, and the firing of a top aide.

Some 44% of Americans think Mr Trump is doing a good job, according to the RealClearPolitics poll average, a historic low for modern presidents after a month in office.

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to quit after it emerged he had discussed US sanctions with a Russian diplomat and misled the White House about the conversations.

In a Fox News interview broadcast earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump gave himself an overall “A plus” for effort, but added that “in terms of messaging, I would give myself a C or a C plus”.

Media captionA week in the life of the White House press briefing room

Among US First Lady Melania Trump’s guests on Tuesday night were three California residents whose relatives were killed by people in the US illegally.

At least a dozen Democrats have brought as their guests young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.

Meanwhile, television personality Rosie O’Donnell – who has long feuded with Mr Trump – hosted a rally against him outside the White House.

Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is due to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to President Trump’s address.

He is expected to say Republicans plan to “rip affordable health insurance” away from those who most need it.

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