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How Trump used SOTU guests to peddle his political policies


President Trump strategically used his guests throughout the State of the Union address on Tuesday night as an emotional anchor to highlight his first year in office and garner support for his policies going forward.

While Trump called for a "new American moment" of unity, he pushed for a partisan agenda.

By pointing to a welder in the rust belt or a North Korean defector, Trump could revel in the success of the tax reform bill and take a strong stance against the rogue state.

Here are a look at just some of the human stories Trump chose to showcase on Tuesday night.

ICE Special Agent Celestino Martinez

President Trump used the murders of two teenage girls in Long Island as a way to rally support for tighter immigration rules.

“Many of these [MS-13] gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors,” Trump said.

He went on to laud the work of ICE Special Agent Celestino Martinez before presenting the four pillars of his immigration reform proposal.

California’s Sen. Kamala Harris later slammed Trump’s approach, calling it “scapegoating” and “fear-mongering” to use an extreme example to sway policies regarding Dreamers, or undocumented children who were brought to the U.S. by their parents.

Army Staff Sgt. Justin Peck, center, stands as he's introduced by President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address.

Army Staff Sgt. Justin Peck, center, stands as he's introduced by President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck

President Trump also took the opportunity on Tuesday night to honor Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck when he addressed his pledge to “extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth.”

Peck was awarded with a Bronze Star after he rushed into a hospital rigged with explosives to save Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, who was wounded in a blast.

“Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them,” Trump said.

“When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are,” he added.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier

Trump also recounted the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was arrested for trying to steal a propaganda banner while visiting North Korea as part of a tour group.

Warmbier was convicted of subversion and released in a coma after he was held for more than 17 months. He died within days of his return to the U.S.

Trump pointed to Warmbier’s tearful family members on Tuesday night and said, “You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all.”

Fred and Cindy Warmbier broke down in tears when Trump spoke about their son Otto Warmbier, who died after he was imprisoned in North Korea. 

Fred and Cindy Warmbier broke down in tears when Trump spoke about their son Otto Warmbier, who died after he was imprisoned in North Korea. 

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The president also went on to tell the story of North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, calling it “a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.”

Trump warned that North Korea's "reckless pursuit of nuclear misslces could very soon threaten our homeland," and declared that his campaign of "maximum pressure" would prevent any impending disaster.

The president boasted his "nuclear button" was larger than the one dictator Kim Jong Un claimed to have on his desk in one instance of saber-rattling that sparked widespread concerns about his mental health. 

North Korea is also planning to roll out another military parade in February to "scare the hell out of the Americans," according to CNN. 

Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets

Trump punctuated his commitment to the war on drugs by pointing to the story of Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets, who adopted a pregnant, homeless woman's child after seeing her prepare to use heroin.

While Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergenc in October, it remains unclear how his administration will tackle the problem.

Trump also claimed harsher immigration policies would help fight the opioid crisis. But about 40% of opioid deaths in 2016 involved prescription painkillers made by pharmaceutical companies, according to the U .S. Center on Disease Control and Prevention.

Trump, center, takes a tour of Staub Manufacturing with Steve Staub, left, and Sandy Keplinger, in 2016.

(Evan Vucci/AP)

Drugs being brought across borders are only part of the problem, with some illicit versions of fentanyl being shipped directly from China.

Steve Staub, Sandy Keplinger, Corey Adams

Trump also used Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger, the owners of Staub Manufacturing in Ohio, to illustrate the biggest victory of his presidency thus far.

“Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door,” he said.

Staub employee Corey Adam is among 3 million workers who will be receiving bonuses as a result of the sweeping tax reform, Trump said.

As for the bonuses, the 3 million workers make up 2% of the American workforce.

Despite Trump's claims that his tax cuts are the biggest in American history, an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget put Trump’s package as the eighth biggest since 1918.