Will Biden's fiery State of the Union address be enough to reverse low polls and age perceptions?

The US president made his case for re-election setting out the key issues in his campaign, ITV News US Correspondent Dan Rivers reports

Words by US Correspondent Dan Rivers and Washington News Editor Jonathan Wald

Joe Biden knew how much was riding on this speech. It wasn't just about what he would say, but how he would say it.

In the end, despite his occasional characteristic slips, mangling of words and the odd bungle, he delivered with passion, even anger at times.

He framed so much of the agenda before the country as a stark choice: American values like democracy, fair competition and a robust challenge to Russia pitted against tax breaks for multi billionaire corporations, a supine foreign policy in Ukraine and an eroding of the institutions which are the bedrock of the Republic.

He continuously criticised Donald Trump, but never by name, instead referring to him as "my predecessor" 13 times.

Representative Majorie Taylor Greene wearing pro-Trump paraphernalia at the speech. Credit: AP

Another ghost being exorcised by Biden was his age.

He intoned each line with vigour, taking on the hecklers with ad-libbed challenges.

He lost his thread while improvising a response to a heckling Trump Loyalist, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and then somehow managed to mangle the name of a young woman killed by an illegal migrant, Laken Riley, instead saying Lincoln Riley.

But it was not enough to derail the momentum he had built.

This was the Joe of old, a flashback to his days as a Senator, brimming full of fury and righteous indignation.

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We glimpsed his undeniable hunger for re-election and at times his compassion when mentioning those in the audience like the parents of detained journalist Evan Gerschkovich.

The elephant in the room was his age and towards the end he confronted it head on, saying: "My fellow Americans, the issue facing our nation isn’t how old we are, it's how old are our ideas. 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 and what can and should be done."

This to me was the apotheosis of his message: dwell not on when I was born, but where I will take you, think about the future not the past, tomorrow not yesterday.

The Biden-Trump re-match that everyone expected will properly kick-off in November. Credit: AP

The choice could not be starker for America: yes two old men, but men with very different visions for the country.

Donald Trump responded with typical bluster on his social media platform last night describing it as the "angriest, least compassionate and worst State of the Union speech ever made".

The battle lines are drawn for what promises to be a gruelling and deeply personal campaign.

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