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The 1986 State of the Union address was given by President Ronald Reagan to a joint session of the 99th United States Congress in the House Chamber of the Capitol at 8:04 p.m. on Tuesday, February 4, 1986.[1] The speech was the second State of the Union address of President Reagan's second term. Economic growth, increased job opportunities, and falling inflation rates were among some of the key issues discussed in this address. Reagan advocated for both an increase in national defense and a reevaluation of the federal budget, arguing the importance of national security and economic stability by appealing to American family values. In addition, the speech addressed welfare issues and proposed that new programs be created to support poor families. Reagan also asked that he be given the authority of a line-item veto.[2] The speech lasted approximately 31 minutes[3] and contained 3,514 words.[4] The address was broadcast live on radio and television.

This was the first State of the Union Address to have been postponed from its original date.[5] Reagan planned to give his address on Tuesday, January 28, 1986, but after learning of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, he postponed it for a week and addressed the nation on the day's events.[6] Reagan delivered a much shorter address to the nation, focused solely upon the tragic events of the Challenger disaster, which served as an explanation for the delay of the speech. Reagan justified this delay by stating that “today is a day for mourning and remembering,” inviting the nation to devote the day to recognizing what he defined as “truly a national loss.”[7]

As a continuation of the tradition President Reagan started at the delivery of his State of the Union Address in 1982, he invited hand-selected special guests to be present during the speech. These four guests included Tyrone Ford, a 12-year-old with a talent in gospel music, 13-year-old Trevor Ferrell, who took an initiative to support the homeless, 13-year-old Shelby Butler, who risked her own life to save a classmate from oncoming traffic, and Richard Cavoli, a student of science who had designed an experiment that had been carried aboard Space Shuttle Challenger. These four guests were chosen because President Reagan saw them as everyday examples of young heroes in America. Each of these individuals was mentioned directly during the speech.[8]

The Democratic Party response was delivered by Senator George Mitchell (ME), Lt. Gov. Harriett Woods (MO), Gov. Charles Robb (VA), Rep. Thomas Daschle (SD), and Rep. William Gray (PA),[9] who had previously taken part in the group response to President Reagan’s State of the Union Address delivered on January 25, 1984.[10]

President Reagan was joined before the joint session of Congress by Vice President George H. W. Bush and Speaker of the House Thomas O’Neill, who introduced Reagan before the commencement of the address.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Address Before a Joint Session of Congress on the State of the Union February 4, 1986". Archived from the original on May 6, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  2. ^ "State of the Union Address: Ronald Reagan, February 4, 1986". Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  3. ^ "Length of State of the Union Addresses in Minutes". Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  4. ^ "Length of State of the Union Addresses". Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  5. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (January 29, 1986). "The Shuttle Explosion: Reagan Postpones State of the Union Speech". New York Times. p. A9.
  6. ^ "Address to the nation on the Challenger disaster". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Retrieved July 4, 2006.
  7. ^ "Explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger Address to the Nation, January 28, 1986". Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  8. ^ "President Reagan's 1986 State of the Union Address". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  9. ^ "List of Opposition Responses to State of the Union Addresses". Retrieved 2012-10-22.
  10. ^ "List and Transcripts of Opposition Party Responses to State of the Union Addresses". Retrieved April 28, 2018.

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