President Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday night was either, in Vice President Pence’s view, an example of Trump’s “broad shoulders, big heart, reaching out” vision — or — in the eyes of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a “bait and switch” speech.
Pence and Democratic congressional leaders made the rounds of morning TV news programs following Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress and a nationwide audience to set their imprint on how it’s received.
Pence told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the speech, in which Trump displayed a less confrontational and, at times, compassionate side, “was all him,” and that the President was “literally rewriting the speech” Tuesday afternoon, hours before he delivered it.
On ABC’s Good Morning America, Pence said “what you saw last night was the President acting on the priorities that he ran on, and I think that’s why this speech is being so well received.”
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, in an interview that will air Thursday on NPR’s Morning Edition, said Trump “talks like a populist” in his speeches but he “governs like a hard-right guy.”
Trump, Schumer said, has been “talking the talk for a long time, but when is he going to walk the walk?”
While the speech was light on specifics, Pence said the Trump has made repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act “the number one priority of this Congress,” though congressional Republicans have long made it clear that would be their first move. Trump has continued to say that, politically, it might have been smarter to hold off, though he adds that it wouldn’t be right to make Americans wait for a resolution on the issue.
Pressed today if anyone would lose their coverage in the still-to-be-revealed replacement for the ACA, Pence said Trump has made it clear that “no one is going to fall through the cracks.”
Pence told CBS This Morning the administration was still working on a new executive order to temporarily ban immigrants from some nations from entering the U.S. It’s been reported by CNN that the order was supposed to be revealed on Wednesday, but was delayed due to positive reviews of the president’s performance Tuesday night.
The previous order was blocked last month by a federal appeals court, a decision Pence said is still being evaluated. He said a variety of federal agencies “are putting the finishing touches” on a revised order, which will be issued “in the days ahead,” but he would not divulge which countries would be affected. One of the major criticisms of the original order is that it was rushed out without proper coordination with various departments.
The most emotional moment in Trump’s speech came as he recognized the widow of Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens, who was killed in a Jan. 29 counter terrorism operation in Yemen. As Carryn Owens looked on in tears from the House Gallery, Trump said “Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.”
But the success of the raid has also been in doubt; an unknown number of civilians were also killed and a $75 million fighter jet was destroyed.
Pence was asked about a report on NBC that the raid yielded no significant intelligence. Pence said the report was “wrong.”
He said Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday “confirmed again to the administration that there was significant intelligence” gathered, that will lead to “American success and to the safety and security of the American people.”