WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump delivered a populist and fiercely anti-Washington inaugural speech on Friday, promising to deliver the people a voice he said their government had taken from them.
“Today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people,” Trump said from a podium on a stage behind the Capitol building.
A light rain that began to fall shortly after Trump took the oath of office with Chief Justice John Roberts continued through most of his 16-minute speech. Though a bit more optimistic, Trump’s address this afternoon mirrored in many ways the one he delivered over the summer at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Continuing the major themes of his campaign, Trump railed against a corrupt Washington government unresponsive to the people it represents. Trump said U.S. trade and foreign-policy positions have lowered the nation’s standing in the world.
“From this day forward a new vision will govern our land,” Trump said. “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.”
Lamenting the decline of manufacturing in the United States, Trump described old, abandoned factories as “tombstones,” and promised to put Americans back to work with a robust spending plan to rebuild bridges and roads.
That infrastructure plan has been one of the few policy areas on which Trump and Democrats have agreed since his surprising victory in November. It remains to be seen, however, what shape the bill takes.
A major connection between the Cleveland speech and the one Trump delivered Friday was his vision of a country ravaged by crime, especially in the inner cities. In the past Trump has incorrectly cited the murder rate at being at a historic high, but he largely avoided using data in the speech Friday, simply promising to end the “American carnage.”
In contrast to his proclamation in Cleveland that he “alone could fix” the problems he saw in the country, Trump’s speech Friday included more appeals to the American people as a source of strength and power.
“To all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again,” Trump said. “Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.”
Perhaps the biggest applause line from the speech came when Trump promised to fight “radical Islamic terrorism,” using a phrase he has ridiculed politicians for not adopting.
At the same time as he uttered that controversial phrase, however, Trump appealed for unity among and increasingly fractured public. “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice,” he said.
Not everyone who endured the cold rain Friday morning was prepared to accept that call for unity.
A line of protesters wearing shirts that spelled out “resist” stood in a ticketed section of the crowd during Trump’s oath of office and began shouting out the preamble of the Constitution.
Trump supporters in the crowd eventually booed the protesters from their seats just down the lawn from the main stage. As they left, some in the crowd shouted, “Trump, Trump, Trump.”