Trump hits back at Democrat rival ahead of State of the Union

House Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington DC Jan. 31 2019

Michael Reynolds EPA via Shutterstock Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington DC Jan. 31 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who won plaudits from Democrats for her hardline negotiating tactics during the shutdown, will be seated behind the president - a visual reminder of Trump's political opposition.

The House Democratic Women's Working Group has also invited female members of both parties to wear white to Trump's speech as a symbol of solidarity.

In the audience will be several Democrats running to challenge Trump in 2020, including Sens.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer says Abrams will deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address.

But there will be plenty more to keep an eye - and ear - on as Trump addresses a joint session of Congress.

Minutes later, Trump tweeted that Schumer was "just upset that he didn't win the Senate, after spending a fortune". "If we had a real Wall, this would be a non-event!", Trump said in a Twitter post.

Asked on Tuesday if Mr Trump would use the speech to announce an emergency, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said the president "has an absolute right to do it" but would prefer that lawmakers forge a solution.

Mr Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney went over the speech on Monday night with about a dozen supporters including former campaign aides Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, as well as Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, a source familiar with the meeting said.

And even though she lost the tight race she ran for Georgia governor last November, Abrams was nevertheless selected to be the face of the party in a speech that will be seen by millions nationwide - a testament, experts said, to the power Democrats believe Abrams holds to connect with a diverse electorate in a moment of American politics increasingly enveloped by the complexities of gender and race.

"He's going to set the stage", the source said.

While Trump was still putting the final touches on the speech Tuesday afternoon, he was expected to use some of his televised address to showcase a growing economy.

Despite the shutdown, the U.S. economy added a robust 304,000 jobs in January, marking 100 straight months of job growth. That's the longest such period on record.

IS militants have lost territory since Trump's surprise announcement in December that he was pulling US forces out, but military officials warn the fighters could regroup within six months to a year after the Americans leave. "We'll be at 100".

Congressional Republicans privately worry that Democrats would force a vote to overturn that emergency declaration, something that would likely pass the Democratic-controlled House and may clear the GOP-led Senate if just a handful of Republicans join Democrats.

The president also defended his decisions to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan over the opposition from national security officials and many Republican lawmakers.

Trump, in excerpts of his address, defended his moves, declaring: "Great nations do not fight endless wars".

In his speech, Trump also planned to announce details of a second meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, outlining a summit on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam, according to his prepared remarks.

The president is also expected to call for political unity and an end to the partisan politics dividing the nation. An announcement is expected on a new initiative aimed at ending transmissions of HIV by 2030.

Trump's guests for the speech include Anna Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman whose life sentence for drug offences was commuted by the president, and Joshua Trump, a sixth-grade student from Wilmington, Delaware, who was allegedly bullied because of his last name.

Pelosi, who frequently sat stony-faced through Trump's address, has shown no sign of budging from her opposition to Trump's wall-funding demand.

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