Salud: Biden’s Fiery State of the Union Provided Crucial Contrast with Trump, Took on Age and Fitness Concerns

Jerry Roberts interviews Rep. Salud Carbajal on March 7, 2024 (courtesy)

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday night at times resembled a campaign or convention speech, but Rep. Salud Carbajal asserted that it effectively set forth key differences with Donald Trump, while demonstrating that the incumbent remains up to the job.

“I think people wanted to see him be very present, very able, very strong, and he did that,” Santa Barbara’s Democratic congressman told Newsmakers, moments after the speech ended.

“He was strong, he was bold, he was clear, and he set forward a course reminding the American people of the contrast between taking our country forward and being inclusive, or resorting to the alternative which is chaos, belittling people, chaos, at best,” Carbajal said in a remote interview from Capitol Hill.

In a week when former president Trump clinched the Republican nomination, and new polling showed Biden trailing him nationally and in key battleground states, the president’s annual address to Congress represented the unofficial tipoff of the general election campaign.

Biden himself clearly believed that to be true, as he criticized Trump via the phrase “my predecessor” at least a dozen times, without once mentioning him by name, on the economy, foreign policy and national security. If not unprecedented, it was a highly unusual device for a State of the Union, a ceremonial event more commonly used to deliver a message of unity.

However, a large majority of Americans now express concerns that the 81-year old Biden is too old, too frail or too mentally diminished for the presidency, and Carbajal portrayed last night’s speech as solid push back on that view. Biden spoke — often loudly — for over an hour, mixing in ad libs and verbal sparring with several GOP congress members who heckled him from the floor.

“He showed us that experience matters,” Salud told us. “He said there’s another guy his age that’s also running that continues to espouse messages that show that he wants to take us back as a country to darker days, instead of moving us forward. I thought he did an extraordinary job.”

In addition to giving Biden what is all but certain to be the largest television and online audience he will have before Election Day, the State of the Union also is an important social event on the congressional calendar for Senators and House members, many of whom who invite honored or politically beneficial guests; position themselves to greet the President (or taunt him, in the case of a few rudeniks from the opposition party) as he walks up the aisle to the dais, and compete for aisle seats, the better to be seen by voters back home.

Now in his fourth term, Carbajal scored a trifecta on those political challenges last night.

At 4 p.m., he set down a folder with his name on it on an aisle seat, in a bid to reserve the premium spot. Somewhat to his surprise, it was still there when he came back a few hours later, having survived sweeps both from the Secret Service and janitorial staff.

Thus, he managed to score some serious face time on national broadcasts when Biden stopped briefly to shake hands and exchange a few words with him: “He was being heckled by some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and I just told him, ‘keep your head up,’ looking forward to hearing your speech,'” Salud told us.

As far as honored guests, Carbajal earned massive domestic props by escorting his wife, Gina, who had never before attended a State of the Union, to the event.

“I can never deny my number one constituent,” he said.

Check out our post-State of the Union conversation with Rep. Salud Carbajal via YouTube below, or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. TVSB, Channel 17, broadcasts the show every weeknight at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. KCSB, 91.9 FM, airs the program at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.


Written by Jerry Roberts

“Newsmakers” is a multimedia journalism platform that focuses on politics, media and public affairs in Santa Barbara. Learn more at

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  1. Joe Biden has a great team, and a very well and able effective Vice President. From minute to minute or in any Global WAR crises the Democrats have a leading edge above, escalation, vandalism, chaos, blaming, random violence, racisms, ignorance, Insurrections, and Holocaustic type War leanings.

    Joe, is openly working to help all Semites even those ideologically fighting each other. Judeo, Christians to Palestinians and all who really exist in the middle of atoday.

    Let’s get past the war mongering, provocative verbal attacks and the unbelievable militarized attacks and deflective/reflective/automatic violent escalations. Why the war tactics, why, why, why, why destroy infrastructure, Hospitals, babies, and entire families and communities who are also Semites, or Judeo, Semitic, Christianos, or simply Humanos. All One, all One, get it? ONE. LOL

    War has never resolved or solved anything. Continual Dialogue and reasonable agreements have historically been the most helpful tools on earth as humans appear to be intelligently and linguistically advanced conversationalists. “Communications” and negotiators have manifested great outcomes Historically—this, is possibly just another micro-cosmic thought in the continuing EXISTANCE of HUMAN life, For-possibly-ever in the U-And-I-Nervous-Varsity. omg! LOL

    I laugh at my own thoughts, yet take them seriously – Geo, D.

    • GEO – You definitely have the right to “laugh at” your own thoughts. Biden is a joke and would have been terminated from any major business if handled in the same incompetent manner he has dealt with the US. I have little doubt Biden was “loaded” during his SOTU address. Evidence for this is how, the very next day, he was back to his old bumbling, mumbling self when questioned by a reporter.

        • Anonymous – Let’s start with the increases in gasoline, food, taxes, interest rates and illegal aliens entering the US. You may be the exception, but, are most American’s better off today than they were when Biden started as president? If a person is unfit to stand trial for their mishandling of classified documents, how can this same person (Biden) be seen as fit enough to perform as president of the US?

          • Doulie – I hate to let facts get in the way of the fake story someone told you that you’re dearly clinging to but here’s some verifiable information you cannot dispute:

            – Trump’s economic growth is 18% slower than Biden’s
            – Since January 2021, real fixed business investment has increased at a 5.4 percent annual rate, twice the 2.7 percent average rate under Trump
            – From 2021 to 2023, real personal expenditures increased an average of 4.5 percent per year, versus Trump’s record of 2.6 percent from 2017 to 2020.
            – Under Biden the number of Americans with jobs has increased by 14.3 million versus a net loss of 2.7 million over Trump’s term, the first decline since Herbert Hoover.
            – Under Biden, the monthly jobless rate in 2022 and 2023 averaged 3.6 percent versus nearly 4.0 percent under Trump from January 2017 to February 2020.
            – Far from mismanaging inflation, Biden tamed it. As a result, America has fared better than other advanced countries. In 2023, while U.S. consumer prices rose 3.3 percent, they increased 4.1 percent in France, 3.9 percent in Great Britain, and 3.7 percent in Germany. And we beat inflation without sacrificing growth: In 2023, real GDP grew 2.5 percent in the United States compared to growth rates of 1.0 percent in France, 0.5 percent in the United Kingdom, and negative 0.5 percent in Germany.



          • Oh, did you see my response? I am in the best economic position of my life. Debt paid off, 120k in cars owned free and clear, significant investments made in the last year, kid almost through college with no student loans.

            Yep, I’m doing amazing. Thanks for asking.

            If Biden is responsible for the economy of the last few years (and really, he isn’t) then THANKS JOE BIDEN.

        • Annual inflation rates for dozens and dozens of goods routinely purchased by American households – including food – were already at their highest levels in a decade before Biden entered the White House. That’s in large part because of the COVID-19 relief spending enacted under Republican Donald Trump’s administration with overwhelming Republican support in the Senate.

        • Doulie. Go out and read. Presidential policy has little to no impact on inflation. They can’t genuinely claim success (which they always will) and their critics can’t genuinely claim failure (which they always will).

          It’s really this phenomenon called “politics”.

  2. His speech was the most divisive of any SOTU address I have ever seen, and everyone seems to have forgotten his promise to unify the country when he first took office.

    It’s astonishing to me how liberals don’t want us to believe what we see with our own eyes but to believe what we are told. He clearly has diminished capabilities and is being mocked by people around the world.

    I challenge my liberal friends to ask themselves if they are better off today than they were four years ago. Do you think having an open border with millions of unvetted people from all over the world pouring into our country is good for all of us?

  3. Biden did a decent job on SOTU imo. Conservative here but don’t support Trump, can’t support insurrectional lawlessness, making excuses for Putin, and bald faced disrespectful bigotry because I’m so old but support much of what he did/didn’t do. Biden has done a halfway decent job actually from a classical conservative pov but doesn’t get credit (and he is having a tough presidency with Ukraine and Israel wars going on – he’s holding a line that many people today just don’t understand what the other side really means if we didn’t – Trump could be better or a whole lot worse and wasn’t tested during his presidency like Biden or GW Bush) and for example Buden has allowed oil production to increase despite what the wackos want, etc. His problem is more being a lifer politico sleazeball who buys in to the normal Dem narrative with a son who’s just the Billy Carter 2020 model, dumb and comical but mostly benign. He’s also done alot of stupid stuff like deciding too late that Trump was right on immigration, and would do more if he had the votes to get away with it. It’s too bad the Democrats didn’t have a primary. Not only does Kamala Harris suck but he’s done her no favors by keeping her under a mushroom most of the time. Her husband gets more press than she does. Biggest stupid thing though was hiring an incompetent AG who waited so long to prosecute Trump. If they hadn’t dragged their feet at least some of it would be settled by now in the courts. Now the only fair way is actually to let the voters decide. And it’s sad that the republicans are behind Trump rather than someone halfway decent like Nikki Haley, and that some are like McConnell are so lily livered that they would let trump make racist comments about them and their wife and still come back to support him. I guess the country is more important than his manhood lol. And then there are people like Lindsay Graham who is just a straight up joker now but somehow still gets elected. but that’s the reality and I could almost talk myself into voting for Trump but then I remember that if things swung a different way on January 6 2021 Mike Pence could have been assassinated along with a hallowed process that has stood the test of time and even a civil war that needs to be respected.

    • Thank you for your rational commentary. Biden is not getting the credit he deserves and the media is to blame for that. They focus so much on his age and not on how he’s boosted jobs, lowered inflation, focused on infrastructure, forced billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes, embraced working class Americans over corporations, willing to compromise time and time again to appease some extremists just to get something done. He’s not getting a fair shake at all.

      The Republican Party is a shell of its former self, I’m amazed at how many moderate conservatives has swung into insanity and how many liberal Dems have moved more moderate. If ALL the moderates got together for both sides, it would be the majority of Americans. We need to focus on that while getting rid of the electoral system. Popular vote winners only. My vote should could just as much as someone in Georgia or Arizona.

  4. Lets start with his open border fiasco. Trump had a policy called ‘Stay in Mexico’ The Democrats fought this in court and lost, but Biden got rid of it with an executve order . The policy, found legal, made people applying for asylum. have to stay in the country they are applying in, until their court date .. Why did Biden reverse this common sense policy. Now, they apply and are let go into our interior, with court dates years away. How is this good for the US cities that have to absorb them in huge numbers?

      • True for us, but the Coyotes are smart and have lots of workarounds so folks get in. Without Sentri it will take an American citizen approximately 4 to 6 hours at San Ysidro during daylight hours. We need investment in the ports – especially Laredo and McAllen but elsewhere as well to speed legal crossings and disincentive illegal crossings mostly for safety’s sake. Inviting people to an unsafe situation is wrong and has created a humanitarian crisis. Biden has smelled the coffee on this and has tried somewhat to do the right thing.

          • Very true. Biden and the Dems were too late to the party, are internally conflicted on policy, had no plan when they knew people were coming, and then s*** talked Greg Abbott whose state is taking the brunt of the influx for his belligerence which was over the top to a degree but not planning to spread the burden caused a lot of it and that’s the feds fault. The current ask in Congress was basically the republicans ask before and wasn’t politically palatable for the Dems then. Now it is and of course the critical mass of republicans are such idiots that they will squander the opportunity to settle a good part of the issue because Trump selfishly told them to and they are no longer capable of making up their own minds.

      • ANON – almost nothing CHALF has ever said here on any topic has been factually correct. Same as COAST. It’s their jam I guess. Even when presented with actual facts, studies, statistics, etc that easily prove their claims to be wrong, they push on. Liars, the lot.

  5. How much MORE is purchasing a vehicle now?
    How much MORE of a down payment on a $700k house do you need now?
    How much MORE are you paying for Natual Gas, Gasoline and Electricity?
    How much MORE are mortgage interest rates, locking out many new home buyers?
    How much MORE is a carton of eggs?
    How much MORE is meat, chicken and fish?
    How much MORE is your car, medical and homeowners insurance?
    add the above and don’t forget the 12 MILLION + who have cross our Sovereign Border in the last 3.5 years since Biden signed his executive orders canceling out any substantial border policies to prevent illegal crossings in the name of “amnesty” or CHEAP labor for coporate American companies …

    • COAST – can you provide some evidence that shows Biden was directly responsible for all of these? It’s funny (not really) how you guys blame Biden for every little thing, yet when your guy does something, it’s not his fault, or he was misunderstood, or it was somehow the democrats fault, etc etc etc….

      Who are you blaming for the failure of the border funding bill?

      But yeah, let’s see some actual proof Biden’s at fault for everything, not just a list of things you’re mad about.

      • @ SAJON- Biden is in fact responsible for the mess he made at the border- Days after taking office he repealled, by Executive Orders, all the policies that were in place to protect our borders and agreements that were made with Mexico under the previous Administration- With regard to what you call the “Border Funding Bill”…(LOL) It’s should have been referred to as the “Ukraine Bill #5”, as the Bill was to fund ANOTHER $60 BILLION of our taxpayer funds to Ukraine (Totaling more than $210 BILLION in 3.5 yrs)…Only $20 Billion was slated for upgrading “border security measures” (that were previously in place), and additionally, it loosened up any enforcement of those already here illegally…. That Bill also gave $14.1 BILLION to Israel and interestingly enough, STRIPPED FUNDING to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA)… and then another 2.4 BILLION to Taiwan… YEAH, Republicans nixed that BILL.

        • COAST – ok so you didn’t provide any evidence of anything at all. Kinda thought you couldn’t.

          And boo hoo, only 20 BILLION DOLLARS for the border. Maybe don’t cry so much about something the REPUBLICANS SHOT DOWN.

        • Wrong, Coast. The BIPARTISAN bill was supported by and created by Republicans. Trump didn’t want Biden to “win” the border issue so he ordered Repubs to shoot it down and they did because they are spineless fools afraid of a megalomaniac dictator who could ruin their cushy political jobs.

  6. Biden is a tired old man with some mental capacity issues. There is a possibility that he has Alzheimer’s in the early stage. Any person in office that refuses a slugfest news conference has something to hide. Biden looks like he will not debate Trump, not that Trump is a bright shining light, He has his own mental limitations, The open Mexican border is a disaster for our country and Biden keeps asking the congress to help reducer the flow, The truth is that the POTUS has virtually unlimited powers, in law and in the constitution to do whatever he wants to do to shut down the growing flow of people from all over the world. Period! Illegal immigration will be the #1 issue in the November election for President.

    Sending bombs and shells to Israel in its murderous campaign in Gaza and dropping a paltry number of food Ready to Eat Meals to the survivors of the Israel/USA supplied onslaught is a truly humanitarian gesture by Biden! Give us a break, Joe!

    • If you say Biden has “Alzheimer’s in the early stage” then Trump has the same on top of delusions and several personality disorders. Oh and also fraud and rape and attempting to overthrow democracy, denying elections unless he wins, etc etc.

      So the choice is either vote for the old guy who wants to keep democracy or vote for the crazy con man old guy who wants to install an authoritarian government. But sure… immigration is the top priority, says Fox News.

      • Name calling is a classic indicator that you lost the debate- Although there is nothing to “debate”- It is now estimated more than 12 MILLION illegal crossings over the 3.3 years of Biden’s term. That is called a FACT. The Border Patrol recorded nearly 1.7 million migrant APPREHENSIONS at the Southern border over the past year — the HIGHEST NUMBER EVER set more than two decades ago… Yeah, the border is secure…. CLUE PAL.

    • Anon, yeah, I’d rather have a person in office who is asleep half the time and a little bit confused now and then but a decent human being surrounded by sane people who prioritize governing and the American people over a felonious rapist and would be dictator who prioritizes kleptomania and insurrection, any time.

      • Not to mention someone who hasn’t been banned from operating so much as a hot dog stand in the state of New York for the next 3 years.

        This is what absolutely blows me away. How in the hell can someone found liable for fraud and banned from operating a business be allowed to run the United States? WTH?

  7. Trump went to a Rally all day in Georgia from Mar A Lago, did the rally until 830pm , Flight back to Florida, shows up with Dana White at 1030pm at a UFC Fight to a ROARING CROWD and watches the fight… Biden was put to bed at 630pm after his yoghurt feeding…! LOL!

    • Actually Coast, the majority of the President’s schedule is public and available to view online. That same day Biden flew to Philadelphia, then to Atlanta. He did an interview with MSNBC, then he went to a campaign event, then flew back to Philadelphia, then to Delaware. I know it’s fun to lie but the internet has facts you can easily look up.

    • Oh and Coast, you forgot to mention that same weekend that Trump hosted authoritarian dictator Viktor Orban at his resort and talked about how great he is. Orban… the guy who is BFFs with Putin, who took over all media outlets to be state-run, who changed Turkey’s constitution to fit his needs and rigged elections so he will always win, the guy who gives all of his cronies control of companies and supply/demand so they hoard all the wealth, the guy who bans being LGBTQ and says “christian values only..” That guy.

      • I happen to LOVE Orban, as do his Countrymen… Hungary is one of the most beautiful and well run countries I’ve ever visited in Europe… It’s a fantanstic place to visit and I highly reccommend all Edhat readers to go…!

        • Of course you’d love an authoritarian. Don’t complain if you get thrown in jail and sentenced without due process while visiting for some innocuous charge, it’s just his authoritarian government you love so much.

          • “Authoritarian”…Kinda like our current DOJ, throwing American Citizens in jail/solitary confinement for 2+Yrs WITHOUT a TRIAL for protesting in Washington D.C. The FBI monitoring Twitter / X / Instagram and FB accounts of anyone who speaks against the current Administration, “Trump’ed” up charges on the primary political opponent that are totally bogus… A State Attorney General making statements that “I will take him down” against a political opponent…. The list goes on…. You can only “Protest” burning buildings, looting, destroying federal properties and get a free pass if you fall under a certain accepted like-thinking-societal- Wokeness- THEN it’s just a “peaceful protest…” LOL!

  8. Santa Barbara is one of the few if not the only districts that actually has 2 congresspeople. Of course their votes generally cancel one another out. If the argument is about which of these 2 presidential candidates is most youthful and ready to serve then i submit that we have all lost already but maybe a friendly competition battle of the network stars style would suffice to guide the voting public: I suggest five events:

    Golf cart obstacle course
    Speed Walking
    Self check out at CVS

    Let the games begin!!!

  9. Is it ok yet if I bring back the ‘shut up and vote’ slogan? Or are we going to have to endure another 8 months of folks who have already made up their minds trying to convince the other half who have ALSO already done so that THEY’RE side is right? Seems low-yield. Just my take of course.

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