President Donald Trump used his second State of the Union Address Tuesday night to make a plea to a divided Congress. He asked lawmakers to help unify a country that's been deeply divided across economic, social and cultural lines. He called for an end to politics of revenge and asked lawmakers to embrace the "boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good." Many Democrats were quick to describe his speech as ironic, given what they say is his history of personal attacks against adversaries and his willingness to galvanize fears of diversity and immigration.

WGBH Morning Edition Host Joe Mathieu spoke with Rep. Joe Kennedy III about the State of the Union address. Kennedy said the president's speech amounted to a contradiction — Trump, Kennedy said, called for unity as he promoted divisive policies. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: You tweeted last night after the address from President Trump: "It's hard to unite a country when you refuse to defend the majority of the people who proudly call her home." What did you mean by that?

Rep. Joe Kennedy: Joe, I think the president last night struck a chord for unity, which is great, and I applaud him for doing so. Aside from the fact that, day after day he spends his time essentially dividing our country, and he's done it year after year. And so whether you are a minority, whether you're an immigrant, whether you're a lower income family, whether you're struggling to get access to health care, whether you are a member of the LGBTQ community — almost any other segment of our society — he and his administration have targeted [them] not just with rhetoric, but with policies. And that's a problem. And you can't you can't do that for 364 days a year and then come in for a speech, and expect that you're going to be able to rally the troops to unite behind a cause.

Mathieu: Some described it as two different speeches, Congressman, one calling for the unity and the bipartisanship that you refer to, and the second half of the speech feeling more like a campaign speech — entering the debate over abortion rights, for instance, and suggesting that we would be at war right now with North Korea if he had not been elected.

Kennedy: Joe, it was a call for bipartisanship, essentially, on his terms and on the issues that he wants, and not at all — which has been a hallmark of the country — of listening to anything else or anyone else, other than his base. There's a lot of issues there that we diagnose and say are similar challenges facing our country, whether that was prescription drugs or immigration or issues with our health care system. We know exactly how he has tried to tackle many of those and they are not actually in the best interest of the American public or are reflective of what the American public wants. And so, I would hope that the administration would — particularly after this election, the midterm elections in 2018 — take a pause and try to recalibrate. I'm not so sure that's the steps that we saw, given the speech that he gave last night.

Mathieu: So I'll ask you then congressman, as we approach another deadline for a possible government shutdown, we're certainly not hearing about a break in negotiations, are you worried about keeping the government open in a week?

Kennedy: Look, it pains me to say it, I am always concerned about this president keeping his word. And so when he said a couple weeks ago that he did not want to go through another government shutdown, we obviously saw a month before that he was proud to shut the government down. So look, I think that you have a strong commitment, actually, among legislators on Capitol Hill — a Democrat-Republican House and Senate — not to go through this again. And I would hope that should our colleagues be able to forge a compromise, that that's something that the president will be willing to sign. We've heard some rhetoric out of him so far, saying that even if Congress is able to strike a deal, that he might not sign it. That's a shame and obviously goes against the cords of partisanship and unity that he struck last night.