Longest State of the Union? Not Quite, but Trump’s Was Long


President Trump’s first State of the Union address was also one of the longest in the last 50 years, outlasting all but two of President Bill Clinton’s.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Whatever you thought of President Trump’s first State of the Union address, one fact is indisputable: There was a lot of it.

One hour and 20 minutes long, it was the third-longest State of the Union in the past 50 years. In that time, only President Bill Clinton has spoken for longer: 1 hour, 28 minutes, 49 seconds in 2000, and 1 hour, 24 minutes, 58 seconds in 1995, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Transcript: Trump’s First State of the Union Speech, Annotated

New York Times reporters analyze the 45th president’s prepared remarks.

In fact, only three of the past nine presidents exceeded an hour in any of their speeches. Lyndon B. Johnson did it once (1 hour, 11 minutes, 16 seconds in 1967), and Barack Obama did it four times (peaking at 1 hour, 9 minutes, 20 seconds in 2010).

No one, however, has matched Mr. Clinton, who did not deliver a single State of the Union address under an hour. His average? One hour, 14 minutes, 51 seconds.

We will have to wait for the transcript to see whether Mr. Trump spoke more than his predecessors, or simply slower. In terms of word count, the longest spoken State of the Union in American history was Mr. Clinton’s 1995 address, at 9,190 words. Written State of the Union Messages — the norm until the early 20th century — were often much longer.

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