On the evening before his all-but-certain impeachment acquittal in the Senate, President Donald Trump returned to the chamber of the US House of Representatives where he was impeached almost two months ago to deliver his third State of the Union address.
Speaking to a joint session of Congress and the American people Tuesday night, Trump touted his optimistic message for the US as "The Great American Comeback," highlighting his list of accomplishments that will launch his 2020 campaign.
Standing at the speaker's rostrum with Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting directly behind him, the president said, "Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback. Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results. Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, and our country is thriving and highly respected again! America's enemies are on the run, America's fortunes are on the rise, and America's future is blazing bright."
BELOW: Watch the full CBN News Faith Nation Coverage of the State of the Union
"The years of economic decay are over. The days of our country being used, taken advantage of, and even scorned by other nations are long behind us. Gone too are the broken promises, jobless recoveries, tired platitudes, and constant excuses for the depletion of American wealth, power, and prestige."
"I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been. Our military is completely rebuilt, with its power being unmatched anywhere in the world -- and it is not even close. Our borders are secure. Our families are flourishing. Our values are renewed. Our pride is restored. And for all these reasons, I say to the people of our great country, and to the Members of Congress before me: The State of our Union is stronger than ever before!" the President declared.
Trump touched on his success of building the economy over the previous administration with the addition of 3.5 million jobs. He also spoke about his success in negotiating two successful trade agreements with the lowest unemployment rate in US history.
"Many politicians came and went, pledging to change or replace NAFTA – only to do absolutely nothing. But unlike so many who came before me, I keep my promise. Six days ago, I replaced NAFTA and signed the brand new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement into law," he noted.
"I also promised our citizens that I would impose tariffs to confront China's massive theft of American jobs. Our strategy worked. Days ago, we signed the groundbreaking new agreement with China that will defend our workers, protect our intellectual property, bring billions of dollars into our treasury, and open vast new markets for products made and grown right here in the USA," Trump added.
Touching on Venezuela, the President said the US is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.
Trump then recognized "the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó" who was sitting in the House gallery.
"Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland. All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom!" he said. "Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul."
Trump also talked about the investment of $2.2 trillion in the US military with contributions of more than $400 billion from NATO allies.
In a touching moment, the President introduced 13-year-old Iain Lanphier who dreams of attending to the Air Force Academy with his eye on the Space Force. Then Trump introduced Lanphier's great-grandfather Brigadier General Charles McGee, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, the first black fighter pilots who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II.
Trump also spoke about the necessity that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. He recognized Melania Trump's "Be Best" initiative "to advance a safe, healthy, supportive, and drug-free life for the next generation, online, in school, and in our communities. Thank you, Melania, for your extraordinary love and profound care for America's children."
Speaking on the subject of health care, the President said, "We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions -- that is a guarantee. And we will always protect your Medicare and your Social Security," which was met by a standing ovation.
Trump slammed home his point about health care and socialism.
"One hundred thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our healthcare system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million Americans. To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know: We will never let socialism destroy American health care!" he said.
The President also spoke against free health care for illegal aliens.
"If forcing American taxpayers to provide unlimited free healthcare to illegal aliens sounds fair to you, then stand with the radical left. But if you believe that we should defend American patients and American seniors, then stand with me and pass legislation to prohibit free Government healthcare for illegal aliens," he said.
Speaking to the problem of securing the nation's southern border, Trump said, "This will be a tremendous boon to our already very-strongly guarded southern border where, as we speak, a long, tall, and the very powerful wall is being built. We have now completed over 100 miles and will have over 500 miles fully completed by early next year."
On the problem of drug prices, the President called for bipartisan legislation that achieves the goal of dramatically lowering prescription drug prices. "Get a bill to my desk, and I will sign it into law without delay," Trump promised.
The President took a moment to thank conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for his "tireless devotion to our country."
Catching Limbaugh off-guard while he was sitting next to Mrs. Trump in the gallery, the President told him he was being presented with the country's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As lawmakers looked on, Mrs. Trump put the medal around Limbaugh's neck.
Recognizing Ellie Schneider, who was a micro-preemie born in Kansas City, Mo. in 2017, the president said, "Ellie reminds us that every child is a miracle of life."
"Our goal should be to ensure that every baby has the best chance to thrive and grow just like Ellie. That is why I am asking the Congress to provide an additional $50 million to fund neo-natal research for America's youngest patients. That is also why I am calling upon the Members of Congress here tonight to pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion of babies," Trump said.
"Whether we are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, surely we must all agree that every human life is a sacred gift from God!" he said.
Trump also spoke about the danger of allowing cities even states to offer sanctuary to illegal criminal aliens.
"I ask the Congress to pass the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act immediately. The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans -- not criminal aliens!" he said.
Trump also spoke about the necessity of securing the nation's southern border.
"Before I came into office, if you showed up illegally on our southern border and were arrested, you were simply released and allowed into our country, never to be seen again. My Administration has ended Catch-and-Release. If you come illegally, you will now be promptly removed. We entered into historic cooperation agreements with the Governments of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. As a result of our unprecedented efforts, illegal crossings are down 75 percent since May -- dropping 8 straight months in a row. And as the wall goes up, drug seizures rise, and border crossings go down," he said.
On the subject of religious freedom, the president said his administration is also defending religious liberty, including the constitutional right to pray in public schools.
"In America, we do not punish prayer. We do not tear down crosses. We do not ban symbols of faith. We do not muzzle preachers and pastors. In America, we celebrate faith. We cherish religion. We lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God!" he said.
Looking to the future, the Commander-in-Chief called for infrastructure improvements and challenged America to embrace space as the next frontier.
"I am asking the Congress to fully fund the Artemis program to ensure that the next man and the first woman on the moon will be American astronauts -- using this as a launching pad to ensure that America is the first nation to plant its flag on Mars," Trump said.
The president also introduced Carl and Marsha Mueller whose daughter Kayla, 26, was killed by ISIS terrorist leader Al-Baghdadi himself. He told them the mission to end Al-Baghdadi's life was given a name - "Task Force 8-14." It was a reference to a special day: August 14th - Kayla's birthday.
Touching on the subject of Iran, the President said the next move is up to them.
"In recent months, we have seen proud Iranians raise their voices against their oppressive rulers. The Iranian regime must abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, stop spreading terror, death, and destruction, and start working for the good of its own people," he said, touting the effectiveness of US sanctions against the Iranian regime.
In probably what was the most touching moment during the president's address, one military family was reunited. Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams is serving in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment to the Middle East. He was reunited with his wife Amy, and their 2 children -- 6-year-old Elliana and 3-year-old Rowan.
In closing, President Trump spoke about the history of America and great men and women who had succeeded in helping build the country.
"As the world bears witness tonight, America is a land of heroes. This is the place where greatness is born, where destinies are forged, and where legends come to life. This is the home of Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt, of many great Generals, including Washington, Pershing, Patton, and MacArthur. This is the home of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, the Wright Brothers, Neil Armstrong, and so many more. This is the country where children learn names like Wyatt Earp, Davy Crockett, and Annie Oakley. This is the place where the pilgrims landed at Plymouth and where Texas patriots made their last stand at the Alamo," he said.
But he also reminded all Americans, "The best is yet to come!"
"This Nation is our canvas, and this country is our masterpiece. We look at tomorrow and see unlimited frontiers just waiting to be explored. Our brightest discoveries are not yet known. Our most thrilling stories are not yet told. Our grandest journeys are not yet made. The American Age, the American Epic, the American Adventure, has only just begun!"
"Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God's grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come!" he concluded.
The formal basis for the State of the Union Address is from the US Constitution which states:
The President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.
There have been a total of 96 in-person State of the Union messages, according to the United States House of Representatives website.