Rice U. expert available to discuss Trump’s first State of the Union address

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


David Ruth

Amy McCaig

Rice U. expert available to discuss Trump’s first State of the Union address

HOUSTON – (Jan. 29, 2018) – As President Donald Trump prepares for his first State of the Union address, Rice University political scientist Paul Brace is available to discuss what we can expect from the country’s 45th president on this momentous occasion.

Brace said that Trump’s Jan. 30 address will take place amid a whirlpool of controversy.

“The president is weighed down by historically unprecedented low approval for such an early stage in his administration,” Brace said. “The State of the Union may offer him an opportunity to divert attention from ongoing investigations and revelations, and to draw attention to more positive events from his first year in office.”

Brace noted that the American economy is booming (at least for some), unemployment is down and the stock market is clearing record highs on a weekly basis. Polling reveals, however, that the benefits of this prosperity are not universally experienced, and the majority of people indicate that Trump’s policies haven’t had much of an effect on them. Moreover, experts question at this stage whether this prosperity is an extension of Obama-era actions, rather than a result of the few Trump policies actually enacted to date, Brace said.

“We can count on President Trump highlighting positive economic indicators and touting the tax cut, one of his only legislative accomplishments to date,” he said. “Prosperity appeals to all and this affords Trump an opportunity to sell his presidency and policies broadly. Infrastructure is another area where there appears to be bipartisan support and affords him the opportunity to reach out to broaden his support base. In defense and foreign policy, it is likely he will reference progress made against ISIS and his support for strengthening the military.”

Beyond these areas, however, Brace said that Trump may fall back on old ways and push agenda items that have been attractive to the base and that brought him to the White House but so far have left him with low approval ratings.

“If his behavior to date has taught us anything, it is that Trump departs little from his base and shows few signs of actively trying to broaden his support,” Brace said. “To this end, we can expect him to propound restrictive immigration policies, including the controversial and costly wall. His recent pronouncements on abortion indicate he may reach out to the evangelical community as well. In defense and foreign policy, he may resort to the threatening rhetoric many find disturbing, issuing strident verbal attacks on North Korea and other adversaries of the U.S., or combative challenges to our economic competitors.”

Brace is the Clarence L. Carter Professor of Political Science in Rice’s School of Social Sciences. He has published widely, primarily in the areas of state politics and judicial decision-making. He is the author of “State Government and Economic Performance,” co-author of “Follow the Leader: Opinion Polls and the Modern Presidents” and co-editor of “Change and Continuity in American State and Local Government” and “The Presidency in American Politics.” He comments regularly on presidential politics.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


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Photo link: http://news.rice.edu/files/2012/09/Image.jpg
Photo credit: Rice University

Paul Brace biography: https://politicalscience.rice.edu/paul-brace

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.