Donald Trump is expected to focus on some of his most prominent campaign issues including jobs, border security and trade in his inaugural address on Friday. Considering the grand lineage of inauguration days past, many wonder how the president-elect’s remarks will compare to those of his predecessors.
In December, the Trump team announced it was tapping senior aide and campaign speechwriter Stephen Miller to author the inaugural address. Miller’s role has reportedly changed since, though, as presidential historian Douglas Brinkley later revealed after meeting with Trump that the president-elect is writing his own remarks and “doesn’t want it to be too long.”
As Donald Trump crafts his own inaugural address, here’s a break down of what former presidents have focused on during their introductory January speeches.
President John F. Kennedy:
President Kennedy paused for a “celebration of freedom” on the historic day in 1961. The Massachusetts native spoke of assured liberty and harshly warned the global community, saying, “Let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.”
It was his famous call to action for the American public around civic engagement, though, that is to this day one of the most quoted lines in U.S. history:
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”
Kennedy also evoked the image of a “beginning anew,” asking “both sides” — that is, adversary and America, democracy and dictator — to invoke technological advances, “explore the stars” together, and “let the oppressed go free.”
President Ronald Reagan:
President Reagan used his first inaugural address as an attempt to recharge America’s confidence in government. He focused on the Constitution as the central tool through which self-government can thrive and the power of the state can be tamed.
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Ronald Reagan used his first inaugural address to attempt to revive America’s confidence in the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the individual; to advocate a revival of self-government by limiting the power of the state
The president called for a “removing of the roadblocks” blocking economic prosperity and productivity. Reagan’s presidency is one held in high regard by today’s Republican party, and his small government ideals were in full display when he stated “government is the problem.”
“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.”
President George H. W. Bush:
George H. W. Bush used his first speech as president to evoke the image of nation that had just struck gold — saying he assumed the presidency “at a moment rich with promise.”
“For a new breeze is blowing, and a world refreshed by freedom seems reborn,” said President Bush. “There are times when the future seems thick as a fog; you sit and wait, hoping the mists will lift and reveal the right path. But this is a time when the future seems a door you can walk right through into a room called tomorrow.”
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Throughout his speech Bush called for “new activism,” for a new generation, and reminded the American public that they are “inescapably connected by the ties that bind.”
“Here today are tens of thousands of our citizens who feel the understandable satisfaction of those who have taken part in democracy…