Trump begins wildcard presidency with populist message

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stand with President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump at the White House, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Donald John Trump became America’s 45th President at noon on Friday, as he delivered his inaugural address before a red-clad crowd gathered at the U.S. Capitol.

Pres.Trump carefully walked down the red and blue carpeted stairs to the platform where he would set the stage for his incoming administration.

Just as he began to speak, rain started falling from the sky.

Any trepidation he might’ve felt melted away as the new leader of the free world launched into an “America First” speech that drew heavily on his campaign stump’s greatest hits, declaring God’s favor on the United States and berating other countries for undermining American workers.

Mr. Trump’s supporters ate up his 16-minute speech, amplifying themes of populism and protectionism.

“This moment is your moment. It belongs to you,” Mr. Trump told the gathered crowd, promising, “You will never be ignored again.”

“The people became the rulers of this nation again,” said the president. “The forgotten men and women of this country will be forgotten no longer.”

Mr. Trump vowed that his government will build stronger schools, roads, bridges, borders and tunnels. (No mention of the $1 trillion price tag balked at by congressional Republicans for the infrastructure proposal.)

“We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders,” said the president, blaming external forces he and many others see as responsible for the professional decimation of blue-collar workers.

The incoming president’s at-times-unpredictable behavior and persistently fuzzy agenda weigh heavy on many foreign leaders whose citizens, industries and economies blow in the winds stirred up by occupants of the Oval Office.

They won’t be comforted by his inaugural message.

Mr. Trump accused other nations of profiteering on Americans’ misfortunes. “One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores,” the president bemoaned, adding that foreign companies are now “making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”

Global leaders who held out hope for a newly conciliatory Trump were sorely disappointed.

Three-quarters of the way through his speech, the president hit some sunnier notes.

“When America is united, America is totally unstoppable,” Mr. Trump declared.

The billionaire also extended an olive branch to the minority communities who have often felt overlooked and disparaged by the Republican president.

“Whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same Almighty Creator.”

Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle boarded Marine One and were in the air by 12:45 p.m. ET, physically and symbolically leaving the nation’s capital to its new leader.

Now the real work begins — translating high rhetoric into real world results.

Read a full transcript here, courtesy of NPR

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales

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