How long was President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress compared to former President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speeches? While Trump was known for giving long speeches, it’s not surprising that Biden’s was shorter.
Biden’s Speech Was Just a Little Over an Hour Long
Biden’s speech was about an hour and five minutes long. You can watch the full speech in the video above. His speech started at about 34:20 in the video above and ended at about 1:39:24. This means his speech was roughly a little over an hour long, roughly 1 hour and 5 minutes in length.
Things were a little different tonight than during normal speeches to a joint session of Congress. Because of the pandemic, only 200 members of Congress are even attending the event tonight, Vox reported. In total there are 535 members of Congress (100 in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives.) But only 200 are invited to attend tonight, due to a recommendation from the Capitol physician.
In addition, the only Cabinet members attending are the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, and only Chief Justice John Roberts will be attending from the Supreme Court, Vox reported. Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are still expected to be sitting behind Biden during his speech, however.
The smaller number of people invited to the speech stands in sharp contrast to the people who chose to boycott Trump’s speeches in previous years. Last year, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez boycotted Trump’s speech, writing on Twitter: “After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution. None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it. Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.”
After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution.
None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it.
Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 4, 2020
However, some Republican members of Congress did say that they would likely skip Biden’s speech this year if they were invited, Talking Points Memo reported. Among those were Sen. Joni Earnst and others who cited logistics reasons. However, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jim Jordan both said they would attend if invited.
Since former President Ronald Reagan, every President has given his address in February. So Biden’s address is also later in the year than usual.
Trump’s 2020 SOTU Speech Was 78 Minutes Long
In 2020, Trump’s speech was roughly 78 minutes long. His 2019 SOTU speech was 82 minutes long, NBC News reported. His speech in 2018 was 80 minutes long. This means that each of Trump’s speeches was longer than Biden’s first speech.
You can watch his 2018 speech in the video below:
Trump was known for giving long speeches. Most of his rally speeches clocked in at about 90 minutes in length.
However, even Trump’s SOTU speeches didn’t break records. The records belonged to former President Bill Clinton. The longest State of the Union address on record goes to Clinton, whose 2000 address was one hour and 28 minutes long (88 minutes long.) That’s about 10 minutes longer than Trump’s 2020 speech.
You can watch Clinton’s speech in the video below.
Clinton also delivered the second-longest speech in history. In 1995, his speech was one hour and 24 minutes long.
The shortest address was Washington’s in 1790, just 833 words and about 10 minutes. It’s unlikely that any President will try to break the record for the shortest speech to Congress in U.S. history.
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