When President Donald Trump's 2019 State of the Union Address takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 5, he'll have several special attendees in his corner. While we know the president gets to invite some special names to the event, considering that Trump extended an invite to 15 people for the 2018 State of the Union, you might be wondering about the size of this crowd. So, how many guests does Trump get for the 2019 State of the Union? He's inviting several individuals, including a 6th grader who shares his last name, from "all different walks of life" for the address.
On Monday, Feb. 4, the White House revealed that 13 people will be seated alongside the first lady during the annual presidential address. Included in the lineup is an 11-year-old who was reportedly bullied for having "Trump" as his last name, a survivor of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, a former opioid addict, the family of a couple who was reportedly murdered by an illegal immigrant, and a woman who was granted clemency by Trump in 2018.
Other honored guests include a member of the Pittsburgh Police Department, who saved numerous lives during the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, a young cancer survivor, a special agent covering narcotics, gangs, and human trafficking, and a former crack cocaine dealer who was released under the First Step Act on Jan. 3, 2019.
"This year’s guests come from all different walks of life, and each has an incredible story to tell," the White House statement reads. "No matter their background, each one has something important in common: They represent the very best of America."
It's a shorter tally than last year, when Trump had 15 guests at the 2018 event. That year, his guests ranged across gender, race, and age and came from all sorts of different professional and personal backgrounds. Some were victims of violence: two couples in attendance, Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens, as well as Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, had recently lost their daughters to gang violence in Long Island. Others had happier stories. Siblings Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger had recently experienced an uptick in sales and employment at their manufacturing company, Staub Manufacturing Solutions, which the White House attributed to the president's policies and what it called the "Trump bump."
Other guests at the 2018 State of the Union address included Corporal (Ret.) Matthew Bradford, who was deployed to Iraq in 2016, David Dahlberg, a fire prevention technician from southern California, Preston Sharp, who organized placement of more than 40,000 American flags and red carnations on soldiers’ graves, and Ashlee Leppert, who serves as an aviation electronics technician in the United States Coast Guard.
While there was no State of the Union address in 2017, the event was still memorable under previous presidents. At his final State of the Union in 2016, President Barack Obama invited a solid 23 guests. Most notably, he left one chair open, as a tribute to victims of gun violence. Other guests that year included people who were advocates for homeless veterans, formerly incarcerated members of society, people creating green jobs for low-income veterans of color, and refugees.
According to Vox, State of the Union guests aren't just random. Generally, presidents choose people who have achieved outstanding things, who represent a point the president is trying to make or highlight, or someone with a moving story who has emotionally touched the president or the country. In this context, the differences between Trump's 2018 guests and Obama's 2016 guests make a lot of sense — the two ran on, and now govern with, completely different platforms.
The road to the 2019 State of the Union was not without controversy and setbacks. Earlier this month, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made her case to postpone the State of the Union until the government was reopened, and Trump finally agreed to hold the annual address on Tuesday, Feb. 5 instead of Tuesday, Jan. 29 as originally planned.
Now that the State of the Union is set to air as planned, it's likely that President Trump will talk about the "humanitarian crisis" at the U.S.-Mexico border, his proposed $5 billion border wall, and other items on his agenda starting at 9 p.m. ET on Feb. 5, so make sure to tune in.