"Let me close with this," President Joe Biden said as he wrapped up his fiery State of the Union speech, his last before November's election, which will be an all but certain rematch between himself and former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner who has a thrall on the party.

He delivered the line to cheers from Republicans in the room, and jokingly threw up his fists as if to challenge the nearly 270 GOP House and Senate lawmakers in the room -- some of whom, throughout his hour-plus speech, booed, jeered and at least one shouted out "liar!"

Biden then addressed his old Republican friend and colleague, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and quipped: "I know you don't want to hear any more, Lindsey, but I've got to say a few more things," to laughter, grabbing back the attention of the room.

"I know I may not look like it, but I’ve been around a while," he joked. "When you get to be my age, certain things become clearer than ever."

"I know the American story," Biden continued. "Again and again I’ve seen the contest between competing forces in the battle for the soul of our nation, between those who want to pull America back to the past and those who want to move America into the future. My lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy. A future based on core values that have defined America: honesty, decency, dignity, equality, to respect everyone, to give everyone a fair shot, to give hate no safe harbor."

"Now some other people my age see a different story," Biden continued, one of the last references he made to his predecessor without ever mentioning him by name. "The American story of resentment, revenge and retribution."

"That’s not me," he added, underscoring the contrast between himself and Trump and pushing for a note of optimism. "My fellow Americans, the issue facing our nation isn’t how old we are, it’s how old our ideas are. Hate, anger, revenge, retribution are the oldest of ideas. But you can’t lead America with ancient ideas that only take us back. To lead America, the land of possibilities, you need a vision for the future of what America can and should be."

The president touched on several key themes throughout his 67-minute speech. He charged that his predecessor and likely November opponent "derailed" a bipartisan border bill for political gain. He vowed to restore the provisions of Roe v. Wade if Americans elect a Congress in favor of abortion rights. He condemned threats to democracy at home and abroad. He didn't shy away when a conservative firebrand challenged him to invoke the name of a nursing student killed by a non-U.S. citizen. He called for an assault weapons ban, higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations and laid out an ambitious list of policy proposals. 

All the hallmarks of a campaign speech, complete with chants of "four more years," jokes and jabs at his opponents, and, indeed, the occasional gaffe. 

Here are takeaways from Biden's State of the Union:

Defending democracy at home and abroad: Jan. 6 and the Russia-Ukraine war

President Joe Biden points to Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, as delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday March 7, 2024, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., watch. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden made it a point in the first part of his speech to address threats to democracy, both those around the world and right here at home. 

Right out of the gate, he called on Congress to pass funding to support Ukraine as it repels Vladimir Putin's invasion while taking aim at Trump's recent comments about NATO, where the former president said he would allow Russia "to do whatever the hell they want" to member countries who don't pay their obligations to the alliance.

Biden has been trying for months to secure a new funding package for Ukraine, and U.S. aid to Kyiv ran out earlier this year. Last month, the Senate passed a $95.3 billion foreign aid bill that would include $60 billion for Ukraine, but the Republican-led House has not taken up the legislation.

“Ukraine can stop [Russian President Vladimir] Putin if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons they need to defend themselves,” Biden said. “That is all Ukraine is asking. They're not asking for American soldiers.

“We have to stand up to Putin,” he added. “Send me a bipartisan national security bill.”

Biden said “history is watching” and that if the U.S. abandons Ukraine, it would put Ukraine, Europe and the free world at risk.

The president had a message for Putin: “We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down.”

Biden also sought to draw contrast between former President Ronald Reagan, a conservative icon, and ex-President Donald Trump, whom Biden is set to square off against in a general election rematch in November. 

He said Reagan famously told former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 to “tear down this wall,” referring to the Berlin Wall.

“Now my predecessor, a former Republican president, tells Putin ‘do whatever the hell you want,’” Biden said. “That's a quote. A former president actually said that, bowing down to a Russian leader. I think it's outrageous, it’s dangerous, and it's unacceptable.”

He then moved on to threats to U.S. democracy, not mincing words when he brought up the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, nor did he shy away from who he thinks is responsible.

“Jan. 6 lies about the 2020 election and the plots to steal the election pose the gravest threat to U.S. democracy since the civil war,” President Biden said.

Calling former President Trump, his once and (likely) future election opponent, “my predecessor” without naming him by name, Biden said he would not bury the truth about the day rioters stormed the capitol on behalf of Trump seeking to overturn an election that Biden won.

“Here’s the simple truth: You can’t love your country only when you win.”

He called on all Americans “without regard to party to join together and defend democracy” against all threats foreign and domestic.

Biden calls on Congress to protect IVF, bashes Trump, GOP on Roe reversal

Supreme Court Justices and members of Congress, listen as President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 7, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Biden called on Congress to “guarantee the right” to in vitro fertilization and bashed former President Donald Trump for “bragging” about overturning Roe v. Wade. 

“To my friends across the aisle, don’t keep families waiting any longer, guarantee the right to IVF nationwide,” Biden said. 

The president highlighted the story of one of the first lady’s guests, Latorya Beasley, a woman from Bringingham, Alabama who had to stop IVF treatments for her second baby when the state supreme court ruled frozen embryos were considered children, putting access to the fertility treatment in question across the state. 

Biden said Beasley’s circumstance was “unleashed by a supreme court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.”

“Unless Congress acts, it could happen again,” he said. 

The president then went on to promise that he would fight for abortion access if he is given a Congress “that supports the right to choose.” 

“If you, the American people, send me a congress that supports the right to choose, I promise you I’ll restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again,” he said. 

The president went on to slam Trump for his role in Roe’s reversal, again without mentioning him by name. The former president appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who were in the majority that overturned Roe. 

“Many of you in this chamber and my predecessor are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom,” Biden said. “My god, what freedom else would you take away?” 

Biden also pointed out one of the first lady’s other guests: Kate Cox, the Texas woman who had to leave her state to get an abortion due to Texas’ restrictive laws on the practice despite her health being in danger.

“What her family went through should have never happened as well,” he said. 

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, sparking abortion bans and restrictions in Republican-led states across the country, Democrats have sought to put the issue of abortion front and center. Democrats have credited the issue for helping them pull off a better-than-expected showing in the 2022 midterms and notch some key victories in the 2023 off-year elections. 

This year, a new front in the reproductive freedom message opened for Democrats when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are considered children, leading experts to warn of potential major implications for in vitro fertilization. 

Some Republicans have rushed to say they support IVF following the Alabama high court’s decision and on Wednesday the state legislature passed a bill protecting IVF treatments. 

The first family inviting Cox and Beasley was a clear display that Biden will continue to put the issue in the spotlight as he seeks another four years in the Oval Office. 

Biden jabs Republicans over federal deficit, vows to lower costs

President Joe Biden holds a Laken Riley Botton as delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday March 7, 2024, in Washington, while Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., watch. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Biden, who entered office as the COVID-19 pandemic entered its second year, boasted of a U.S. economy that has made major strides since the virus kept millions at home, out of work and fearful of both disease and economic woes.

“Remember the fear. Record job losses. Remember the spike in crime and the murder rate. A raging virus that would take more than one million American lives and leave millions of loved ones behind. A mental health crisis of isolation and loneliness,” Biden said. “A president, my predecessor, who failed the most basic duty. Any President owes the American people the duty to care. That is unforgivable.”

“It doesn’t make the news but in thousands of cities and towns the American people are writing the greatest comeback story never told,” he added.

He referenced unemployment being at a 50-year low and 16 million Americans who have started small businesses during his administration, as well as job growth for Black, Hispanic and Asian-Americans and in the manufacturing sector.

He also bragged about the CHIPS and Science Act, passed in 2021, that set aside tens of billions for domestic semiconductor production after pandemic shortages due to supply chain constraints and reliance on foreign sources. And he pointed to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law launching tens of thousands of projects across the country to refurbish and build roads, bridges, ports, airports, public transit systems and other key infrastructure.

Biden gave a shout out to UAW President Shawn Fain, specifically referencing thousands of jobs created at an electric car battery plant in Belvedere, Ill., claiming pressure from his administration convinced automaker Stellantis to keep and expand their operations in-country. Biden became the first president to join a picket line when he marched with UAW workers in Michigan last year.

“The middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class,” he said, using one of his oft-repeated refrains. “When Americans get knocked down, we get back up.”

Biden said his administration has cut the federal deficit by $1 trillion and signed a bipartisan deal to cut another $1 trillion from the deficit in the next decade.

“It’s my goal to cut the federal levels another $3 trillion by making big corporations and the very wealthy finally begin to pay their fair share,” he said. 

The Congressional Budget Office projected last month that the federal deficit will grow 63% over the next ten years from $1.6 trillion in 2024 to $2.6 trillion in 2034.

“I’m a capitalist,” Biden said. “You can make $1 million bucks, that’s great. Just pay your fair share in taxes. A fair tax code is how we invest to make this country great.”

Biden said the “last administration” had enacted $2 trillion in tax cuts that “overwhelmingly benefited” the top 1% and big corporations and exploded the federal deficit.

“They added more to the national debt than any presidential term in American history.”

As he has so many times over the past four years, Biden harkened back to his father’s kitchen table — a table, he said, where trickle-down economics didn’t trickle down to his family. 

"I’m determined to turn things around so the middle class does well, the poor have a way up, and the wealthy still do well. We all do well," Biden said.

He didn’t just recall his administration’s moves to save Americans money, but vowed to expand on them.

Biden promised to expand on Medicare’s ability to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, vowing to "cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for every American who needs it," then called on the government to give Medicare negotiation power on 500 more drugs over the next 10 years.

That move, he said, will save taxpayers another $200 billion.

"I probably shouldn’t say this, but folks, if any of you want to come with me and fly on Air Force 1, we can go to Toronto, Berlin, Moscow — well, maybe not Moscow," he said, stopping short and chuckling. "Bring your prescription drugs, and I promise you’ll get it for 40% of the cost you’re paying now."

He said that he seeks to cap prescription drug costs at $2,000 per year for all Americans, and that he wants to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act — otherwise known as Obamacare, which he joked is "still a very big deal."

Beyond prescription drugs, Biden said he sought to make permanent the $800 per year working family tax credits, that he seeks to provide an annual, $400 monthly tax credit to help homebuyers pay for mortgages on a first home "or trade up for a little more space."

He said the White House will seek to eliminate title insurance fees for federally backed mortgages, to help people save on home refinancing. 

Biden called on Congress to pass a plan to renovate and build 2 million affordable homes and bring rents down. And, he said, he wants to give public school teachers a raise, which drove much of the joint session of Congress to their feet.

Biden announces port to facilitate aid into Gaza, emphasizes two-state solution

House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., left, and Vice President Kamala Harris applaud as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday March 7, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

Biden called for Israel to allow more aid into Gaza and announced the U.S. will build a “temporary pier” to facilitate the flow of additional assistance into the Palestinian territory. 

Biden noted the pier will enable a “massive increase” of aid into Gaza while emphasizing “No U.S. boots will be on the ground.” 

“Israel must do its part,” Biden said. “Israel must allow more aid into Gaza and ensure humanitarian workers aren’t caught in the crossfire.”

The president, who has recently put additional stress on saying not enough aid is reaching civilians in the territory, went on to say he had a message for Israeli leadership: “Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip.” 

Biden has faced pressure from abroad and at home over his continued support of Israel as the civilian death toll in Gaza has risen and the humanitarian crisis has worsened amid the war.

The president on Thursday reiterated his belief that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas while noting that it also has the responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Gaza. 

“The last five months have been gut wrenching for so many people, for the Israeli people, for the Palestinian people and so many here in America,” Biden said.

He noted more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7, most of whom, he said, are not Hamas. 

The president acknowledged the families of hostages still being held by Hamas who were in the audience as the guests of some lawmakers at Thursday’s address. 

“I pledge to all the families that I will not rest until we bring all of your loved ones home,” he said, also mentioning Americans Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich, who are jailed in Russia. 

Biden said he is “working around the clock” to put in place a new cease-fire deal that would facilitate the release of the hostages and reiterated that the “only real solution” to the conflict is a two-state solution. 

“I say this as a lifelong supporter of Israel,” Biden said, adding “my entire career, no one has a stronger record on Israel than I do.” 

Biden, Republicans spar over border security

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., watches as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday March 7, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The president got into a spirited back-and-forth with Republicans when he urged Congress to pass a border security bill.

The Senate last month announced a bipartisan agreement to impose tougher immigration and asylum laws and better secure the southwest border. But Republicans quickly panned the plan, at least in part because President Donald Trump urged them to reject it. 

Biden said the bill had “the toughest set of border security reforms we've ever seen,” a comment that was met with jeers from Republicans.

“You don't think so?” Biden told Republicans. “Oh, you don't like that bill, huh? That conservatives got together and said was a good bill? I'll be darned. That's amazing.”

GOP lawmakers who oppose the deal insist it was too weak on border security. 

Biden said he believes there would be bipartisan support for the legislation if Trump hadn’t pushed against it.

“He viewed it would be a political win for me and political loser for him,” the president said. “It's not about him. It's not about me.”

At one point, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., heckled Trump by invoking the name of Laken Riley, the Georgia nursing school student who was killed last month while jogging. The suspect in her death is a man who police say illegally entered the country.

Greene challenged Biden to say Riley’s name. Biden did not back down, repeating her name. 

"Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal," Biden said. "That’s right! But how many of the thousands of people are being killed by illegals!"

“To her parents, I say my heart goes out to you. Having lost children myself, I understand,” he said.

Biden’s comments on the border created a scene that would have seemed unthinkable several months ago: Democratic lawmakers chanting in support of a border security bill while Republicans sat in their seats shaking their heads in disapproval. 

“We can fight about fixing the border or we can fix it,” Biden said. “I'm ready to fix it. Send me the border bill now.”

The president, however, made clear he would not vilify immigrants. 

“I will not demonize immigrants saying they are poison in the blood of our country,” Biden said, referring to comments made by Trump. “I will not separate families. I will not ban people because of their faith.”

Biden: ‘We have more to do’ on public safety, mass shootings

President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 7, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Last year, Biden said, saw the sharpest decrease in the murder rate in American history, and violent crime fell to one of the lowest levels in 50 years.

"But we have more to do," he said.

Biden promised to ramp up federal enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act, first passed in 1994 and — after expiring in 2019 — reauthorized during his administration in 2022, and to further invest in community polcing, community violence intervention and in more mental health workers.

He noted that he has directed his cabinet to review federal classification on cannabis — which began in 2022 — and that he has repeatedly expunged federal cannabis convictions for simple use or possession of the drug.

Biden also promised to stop another kind of violence — that of mass shootings, which America has seen with disappointing and increasing regularity. He is demanding, he said, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and demanding the passage of universal background checks on gun sales.

None of that, he said, violates the Second Amendment, despite the jeers he faced from Republicans in the gallery.

"I’m proud we beat the NRA when I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years, now we must beat the NRA again," Biden said.

Biden: ‘There are forces taking us back in time’ on voting rights

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday March 7, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Nearly 60 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, President Joe Biden encouraged Congress to pass further voter protections in the face of “forces taking us back in time.”

“Voter suppression. Election subversion. Unlimited dark money. Extreme gerrymandering,” Biden said, rattling off aspects of the U.S. electoral system he hopes to reform. “Pass and send me the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act!”

Named for former Rep. John Lewis, R-Ga., who was beaten and bloodied by police on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Ala., in 1965, the voting rights legislation Biden wants Congress to pass would require states and localities with histories of violating Americans’ voting rights to receive federal approval before changing election laws.

Republicans on the local, state and federal level have moved to restrict access to voting, inspired by false conspiracy theories about election fraud and rigging.

Betty May Fikes, who marched with Lewis and other civil rights activists in Selma in 1965, was in attendance at the State of the Union and received a shout out for 

“A daughter of gospel singers and preachers, she sang songs of prayer and protest on that Bloody Sunday,” Biden said, continuing “to help shake the nation’s conscience. Five months later, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law.”

“But 59 years later, there are forces taking us back in time,” he added.