President Trump’s Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress was a striking about-face for the bombastic president, who embraced convention to deliver a fairly traditional speech to the American people. And for congressional Republicans—and really everyone—it couldn’t come soon enough, as he set aside the insults and attacks to try his hand at an aspirational address. Yes, he argued for the same policy proposals he put forward during the campaign, but he did it in a decidedly less-divisive way. It was the clearest sign yet that after 40 days in the West Wing, the President is beginning to come to grips with the public responsibilities of the office. Inside the White House some aides were surprised at just how positive the reception had been—and perhaps no one was more surprised than the president himself, who had to overcome his own instincts to deliver the more sober address. Trump aides were left wondering how much better the rocky first five weeks of his administration would have been if he’d given a version of that speech on Jan. 20.
Congressional Republicans, whose patience with defending Trump’s antics was rapidly subsiding, cheered Trump’s new tone, breathing a bit more life into the president’s legislative agenda. Yes, there are clear differences among Republicans, but ultimately what may determine the success or failure of Trump’s plans is his political capital, and he bought him self a good chunk of that Tuesday night.
The lingering question after Trump’s tonal shift is how long he can keep it up. The President largely kept off Twitter Wednesday morning but for a pair of “thank you” tweets, while surrogates and Vice President Mike Pence have made the rounds of television talking up the speech. The White House has delayed a planned signing of a new travel ban executive order, which it had previously cast as an urgent national security need, so as not to step on the coverage of the speech.
Fact checking the speech. Trump’s Inaugural pastor creates ‘safe haven’ for immigrants. And a preview of the new travel ban.
Here are your must reads:
Donald Trump Finally Sounded Like a President
The untraditional president tries out convention [TIME]
President Trump’s Toughest Sales Pitch Was to His Own Party
Skeptical Republicans needed a reason to stick with him [TIME]
A Tale of Two Speeches
The contradictions of Donald Trump’s presidency [Washington Post]
Donald Trump’s Inaugural Pastor Creates ‘Safe Haven’ for Immigrants
TIME’s Elizabeth Dias reports on the subtle break with Trump
Trump Proposes Cutting State Department Budget by 37%
Plan would cut aid given by U.S. Agency for International Development [Wall Street Journal]
“The time for trivial fights is behind us.” — President Donald Trump Tuesday night. Yes, that Donald Trump
“Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.” — Trump offers a poignant tribute to Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in a January raid in Yemen. His wife received an extended standing ovation during the joint address
Bits and Bites
Officials: New Trump travel ban removes Iraq from list [Associated Press]