In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Trump on Tuesday challenged divided lawmakers and a polarized nation to look past his turbulent early days in office and rally behind the “America First” vision of his history-making campaign.
“A new national pride is sweeping across our nation,” Trump declared to a packed House of Representatives at the outset of the hourlong address. “What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit.”
The entrepreneur stayed true to many of the core messages of his insurgent and profoundly nationalist candidacy — blaming immigration and global trade for a range of ills, expressing resentment at the burdens of America’s post-World War II global leadership, pushing for dismantling Obamacare — while dropping some of his most inflammatory rhetoric.
“By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone,” he said. But, he insisted, “the time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.”
The speech received a chilly reception from congressional Democrats, who audibly gasped when the president mentioned his directive to track crime by undocumented immigrants, and laughed at another point when Trump said he was draining the swamp. Many of the female lawmakers were dressed in white, a symbol of the women’s suffrage movement.
“I saw Democrat women all put on white clothes and sat in the same place, what was that about?” asked Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, after the speech, adding that no one had explained to him what rights men have that women do not. He said Democrats had been “tepid” and “flat” during the address.