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Takeaways from Biden's SOTU; Trump poised to take control of RNC

President Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 7.
Shawn Thew
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POOL/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House chamber of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 7.

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's top stories

In his State of the Union address last night, President Joe Biden rejected concerns over his age and drew a sharp contrast with his likely 2024 rival, former President Donald Trump, through his agenda on issues like abortion, immigration and the economy. Here are six key moments and five takeaways from his speech.

  • NPR's Asma Khalid tells Up First there were a lot of expectations for Biden, "not just for the content of his speech, but the performance." She describes him as "feisty," but says he did have some stumbles. Biden has been criticized for failing to show empathy for Palestinians amid the war in Gaza. Last night, he "spoke in more compassionate terms about Palestinians than we heard from him before," Khalid says.
  •  Karen Seagraves is the kind of independent voter the Biden administration wants to win over for the 2024 election. NPR checked in with her at the end of the State of the Union. Here's why she was unimpressed.
  • In their rebuttal speeches, Sen. Katie Britt and Rep. Mónica De La Cruz focused on immigration, reiterating the GOP argument that Biden created a "border crisis." 


The Republican National Committee meets to elect new leadership today. Committee members are expected to pick several Trump loyalists — including a family member.

  • "The RNC no longer has to play a neutral role in the presidential primary now that Nikki Haley has dropped out," NPR's Franco Ordoñez says. This marks an important moment for Trump, as he'll now get the party resources he's been craving for months as he looks to close the fundraising gap with Biden and the Democrats. 


Haiti extended its state of emergency for another 30 days. Armed gangs have surrounded the country's main airport in Port-au-Prince, and acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry is stranded in Puerto Rico. After a series of coordinated attacks on government buildings, the gangs are demanding Henry's ousting. Here's what to know about the violence in Haiti.

  • "It's pretty bad in Port-au-Prince," NPR's Eyder Peralta says. UNICEF reports that a lot of basic social services are on the brink of collapse. Prices of goods and fuel have skyrocketed, and hospitals have closed. Haitians have been taking to the streets demanding that Henry resign for more than a year. He was appointed, not elected, after the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Peralta reports that in that time, Haiti has "spiraled very closely to anarchy." 

Life advice

Journalist Emily Siner went on a trip to Japan with her 8-month-old son and knew it would be daunting. What should she pack? What should she expect?
/ Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR
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Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR
Journalist Emily Siner went on a trip to Japan with her 8-month-old son and knew it would be daunting. What should she pack? What should she expect?

Traveling with a young child can be a harrowing experience. Preethi Harbuck runs the blog "Local Passport Family" and is a mom of six. With the right mindset and preparation, she says it can be fun for all. Here are her tips:

  • Take a smaller practice trip to get a sense of what it's like to travel with your child. 
  • Pack lightly. Focus on basic gear like a stroller, car seat and carrier. Cut down on big stuff and consider buying things like diapers and baby food after you land. 
  • Redirect your attention to the positive when things inevitably go wrong. 

Weekend picks

Clockwise from top left: Billie Eilish, Mark Ronson, Scott George, Diane Warren and Jon Batiste.
/ Getty Images
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Getty Images
Clockwise from top left: Billie Eilish, Mark Ronson, Scott George, Diane Warren and Jon Batiste.

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: The five documentaries nominated for an Oscar all take on tough topics. While they can be hard to watch, here's why NPR's Linda Holmes thinks you should see them anyway.

TV: Peacock's new dating show, Couple to Throuple has something in common with other shows in the genre: It's terrible yet watchable. Tune in to see how four couples exploring polyamory attempt to find a "third."

Books: Black romance authors are writing broader, deeper and more diverse novels than ever. Here are five of the best new reads.

Music: As is tradition, NPR's Stephen Thompson has cruelly ranked this year's Oscar nominees for best original song.

Quiz: How did you do on yesterday's Super Tuesday pop quiz? If you didn't get the score you wanted, this week's news quiz is a chance to redeem yourself.

3 things to know before you go

The new airport security prototype has a video monitor that provides step-by-step instructions for passengers to complete screening at their own pace.
/ TSA at Harry Reid International Airport at Las Vegas
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TSA at Harry Reid International Airport at Las Vegas
The new airport security prototype has a video monitor that provides step-by-step instructions for passengers to complete screening at their own pace.

  1. The Transportation Security Administration tests a self-service screening system for airport security checkpoints later this month. The system will be installed at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.
  2. Scientists have discovered a worm-like amphibian that feeds its children milk. It's an example of convergent evolution, the process by which very different species can evolve similar traits.
  3. Cole Brauer, a sailor from Maine, has become the first American woman to sail nonstop around the world solo. (via Maine Public)

This newsletter was edited by Olivia Hampton.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.