Donald Trump's muted prime-time address
to Congress got positive reviews on
Wednesday, but numerous questions remained
about the details and costs of his ambitious
Americans reacted warmly to Trump's lengthy
speech, in which he ditched the most
bellicose of his rhetoric in favor of a call
for national unity and a more presidential
A CBS News/YouGov poll showed that 76
percent of those who watched the speech
approved of what they saw.
Wall Street also voiced its appreciation,
with the Dow topping 21,000 for the first
It was a substantial and much needed boost
for the 70-year-old Republican president,
whose approval rating is at a historic low
for presidents after a month in office, and
his embattled White House.
Trump -- ever-aware of his image and
popularity -- fired a triumphant "THANK
YOU!" message to his 25 million Twitter
followers Wednesday morning.
AFP/File / MANDEL NGAN US President Donald
Trump (R) shakes hands with House Speaker
Paul Ryan after addressing a joint session
of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington,
DC on February 28, 2017
To keep the momentum, the White House
postponed the unveiling of a controversial
new ban on travelers from mostly Muslim
countries, which would have dominated news
They also pared back Trump's public remarks
and held the daily press briefing
The speech -- staunchly nationalist, but
delivered in a more measured tone -- may
help soothe a deeply divided country.
In the nearly six weeks since Trump took
office, political polarization in America
has reached fever pitch.
Trump's supporters have flung themselves
into the cause, hoping the election of an
outsider will shake up the elites and
insider politics in Washington.
Laurence SAUBADU, Jonathan JACOBSEN Donald
Trump's approval rating
But among opponents, there is still a
sense of disbelief that a billionaire with
what they see as authoritarian tendencies
and no political experience is in charge of
the world's pre-eminent superpower.
According to Gallup, there has been a steady
increase since November's election in the
number of Americans experiencing worry on
any given day.
- 'Really pleased' -
Trump's speech was welcomed by the hundreds
of mostly Republican lawmakers who witnessed
it firsthand in Congress.
"I think we were all really pleased last
night to hear the president's unifying
message. It was refreshing for everyone
after such a difficult election season,"
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said
on the Senate floor.
Americans, he said, are "ready for a new
AFP/File / MANDEL NGAN House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi watches as US President Donald
Trump speaks during a joint session of
Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC
on February 28, 2017
Trump brought Republicans and Democrats
together by strongly criticizing recent
threats against Jewish community centers and
condemning the seemingly racially-motivated
killing of an Indian immigrant.
He also reached out to opposition Democrats,
reprising his call for a $1 trillion
infrastructure bill and expressing support
for paid family leave and affordable child
Attention will now turn to how Trump can
meet those pledges -- along with goals to
"restart" the US economy, boost defense
spending and reduce violent crime.
While he promised to replace his
predecessor's landmark health care reforms
with a plan that would broaden choice, lower
costs and improve access, he offered little
in terms of how that would be achieved.
- Words and deeds -
Democrats expressed skepticism about
whether the change in tone would last.
GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / CHIP
SOMODEVILLA Members of Congress wear white
to honor the women's suffrage movement and
support women's rights as US President
Donald Trump addresses a joint session of
Congress on February 28, 2017 in the House
Chamber at the Capitol
It was a fear given credence by White House
spokesman Sean Spicer who insisted, "It was
not a reset speech."
"This was far less dark than the inaugural
speech. And he has made an attempt to reach
out," said House Democrat John Larson of
Connecticut. "But the devil is in the
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer
"With Donald Trump, the speeches don't mean
very much," he told CBS News.
"His speeches are populist. They're aimed at
the working folks who supported him. But his
governing and what he does is hard right,
favoring special interests over the working
Trump's plans on infrastructure, health
care, and high-stakes tax reform will likely
run afoul of fiscal conservatives, who are
intent on bringing down national debt that
will hit $20 trillion on Trump's watch.
He also wants to hike defense spending by
$54 billion, offsetting that with cuts in
foreign assistance and other non-military
POOL/AFP/File / JIM LO SCALZO Speaker of the
House Paul Ryan arrives for US President
Donald J. Trump's first address to a joint
session of Congress from the floor of the
House of Representatives in Washington, DC,
USA, 28 February 2017
That is an issue that is likely to be front
and center as Trump visits military
shipyards in Virginia on Thursday.
The "deficit spending" that Trump would
likely employ set off alarm bells for
lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher, who said he was
dumbfounded at the lack of opposition from
his fellow Republicans at the potential for
"The emphasis that Republicans have placed
on (shrinking) the deficit is now going to
be something that we will remember in the
past," he said.
Some Democrats were also dismissive: "This
plan doesn't add up," Senator Chris Van
Hollen told AFP.
"A third-grade math student can see that
you're going to blow a huge hole in the
deficit if you do the things the president
is talking about."
To square the circle, Trump -- the
consummate political outsider -- may have to
embrace Washington deal-making.