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Political analyst breaks down President Biden’s first primetime address

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 9:21 AM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Millions of Americans watched President Biden’s address Thursday night. Political analyst and Bowling Green State University professor Dr. Melissa Miller joined 13abc Action News to break it all down.

Watch the entire address here:

Lee Conklin: What were the key themes the president touched on in tonight’s speech?

Dr. Melissa Miller: Empathy was a big theme tonight. The President reached into his suit coat pocket and pulled out a card in which he had a running tally of the number of Americans who have died from the virus, so he really emphasized the pain and loss Americans have suffered. He also emphasized unity, that Americans need to stick together and continue to wear masks and socially distance. He further emphasized that progress is made particularly in terms of vaccine availability, and finally, goals. He set a set of challenging goals for the country to meet in order to finally beat the virus.

Lee Conklin: The speech was about 25 minutes in length, do you think it was effective?

Dr. Melissa Miller: Well, he really was trying to speak very directly to the people at home. The speech almost had a fireside chat-like quality to it but ultimately, the speech’s effectiveness will be judged by whether the goals he set are met. Will we be gathering in small groups by independence day? Will the vaccine be available to all adult Americans by May 1? Time will tell.

Lee Conklin: The President and Vice President will be traveling around the country trying to drum up support for this COVID relief package that I mentioned, what’s the strategy behind that?

Dr. Melissa Miller: I think a big piece of that strategy is political. The COVID relief plan is very popular -- 7 in 10 Americans support it. I think the White House wants to make sure that President Biden and the Democrats get credit for the COVID relief bill prior to the 2022 midterm elections.

Lee Conklin: No Republicans voted for that COVID relief measure, though. Going forward, in the future, what is the significance of these primetime speeches for presidents and President Biden tonight?

Dr. Melissa Miller: They’re not given very often. They tend to only be given in times of crisis, which is why President Trump delivered one exactly one year ago on the virus. President George W. Bush delivered one on September 11, 2001. So they’re rare, saved for very important occasions, and I think President Biden realized there’s a real opportunity here to try to keep all Americans on one page because frankly when a president gives a primetime address, millions of people watch because their regular programming has been delayed.

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