Barack Obama Archives - Page 5 of 71 - SaintPetersBlog

Charlie Crist slams the GOP for ‘extreme measures’ on women’s reproductive rights

Following moves by President Trump and the GOP-led Congress this week on abortion, St. Petersburg Democratic Representative Charlie Crist is blasting D.C. Republicans on the issue of women’s reproductive rights.

“This past weekend, I stood with thousands of my neighbors in St. Petersburg, Florida to demand the protection of women’s health and rights – a message that was echoed by a million others nationwide,” Crist said. ” And how did Republicans in Washington respond to this call to action?  By pushing forward several extreme measures attacking women’s healthcare and reproductive rights.  This alone is outrageous.  Even worse, these actions will particularly hurt low-income families, young people, and women of color.”

Among the decisions that Crist was criticizing was a vote on H.R. 7 , sponsored by New Jersey Republican Chris Smith. The bill permanently bans the use of federal funds for abortion and prohibits anyone who receives subsidies to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from purchasing a plan that covers abortion.

On Monday, President Trump signed an executive order banning foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive certain kinds of American aid from counseling health clients about abortion or advocating for abortion law liberalization. Ronald Reagan originally issued the so-called Mexico City policy in 1984. Bill Clinton reversed it when he took office. George W. Bush put it back into play in 2001, and Barack Obama reversed it in 2009.

However, according to Mark Leon Goldberg with UN DispatchTrump’s executive order goes beyond what previous Republican Presidents have done on this issue:

Rather than applying the Global Gag Rule exclusively to US assistance for family planning in the developing world, which amounts to about $575 million per year, the Trump memo applies it to “global health assistance furnished by all department or agencies.” In other words, NGOs that distribute bed nets for malaria, provide childhood vaccines, support early childhood nutrition and brain development, run HIV programs, fight ebola or Zika, and much more, must now certify their compliance with the Global Gag Rule or risk losing US funds. According to analysis from PAI, a global health NGO, this impacts over $9 billion of US funds, or about 15 times more than the previous iteration of the Global Gag Rule which only impacted reproductive health assistance.

Crist says “we will not stop fighting” for women’s reproductive rights.

“Women’s rights are human rights, and no matter where you live, what insurance you qualify for, or your income – all women should have equal access to quality, comprehensive healthcare,” he said.

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Bill Nelson sounds off on Donald Trump’s “rocky” first week in office

Although U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s press conference on Wednesday in Tampa was ostensibly to discuss President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to spend up to one trillion dollars improving the nation’s infrastructurehe spent considerable time discussing – and criticizing- some of the moves that the newly-inaugurated president has made in his first week in office.

Nelson has voted against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Mike Pompeo for CIA Director, and he says he’ll oppose Rex Tillerson when the former ExxonMobil CEO’s name comes up for a confirmation vote for Secretary of State. When asked why at a press conference in Tampa, Nelson said just two words.

“Vladimir Putin.”

When asked to elaborate, Nelson simply said he didn’t feel comfortable with Tillerson’s past relationships with the Russian leader.

In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, Florida’s other U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio, was remarkably aggressive in questioning Tillerson, asking him at one point if he thought Putin was a war criminal. But Rubio ultimately voted for Tillerson in committee earlier this week.

Regarding Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s choice as Treasury Secretary, Nelson said he has not made up his mind, even after speaking with him personally.

“There are a number of things that trouble me about him,” he said about the former partner of Goldman Sachs and hedge fund manager. “He’s got some tax issues. But the main thing is it’s kind of an attitude that – ‘I know better than you’ – and for a Treasury Secretary who has the tremendous responsibility to keep our economy on an even keel, that concerns me.”

Mnuchin initially failed to disclose $100 million in assets last week, which he called an “unintentional” oversight.

Meanwhile, Democrats have accused a potential conflict of interest for Tom Price, Trump’s selection at HHS, saying he held more than $100,000 in stock in companies that could have benefited from legislation he promoted.

In 2009, former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle withdrew  his nomination by Barack Obama to become Health and Human Services secretary, amidst a scandal involving unpaid taxes. When asked if there had been a lowering of standards in vetting cabinet selections, Nelson said they had not been lowered in terms of how he votes.

Meanwhile, Trump repeated his false claim on Wednesday hat at least three million illegal immigrants cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, calling for an investigation into voter fraud, even though his own legal team has previously argued that no such fraud occurred.

Nelson said it “well documented” how little voter fraud there actually is in the U.S., and told the reporter who asked that it was “illustrative of our times that you have to ask that question.”

He grew quite passionate, however, in claiming that there’s been voter suppression in Florida and around the nation, and spent several minutes discussing specific examples in and outside of Florida.

Nelson also was dismissive of Trump’s call on Wednesday to begin plans to construct a border security fence on the Mexican border, saying that a “multiplicity of things” can be done to  protect our borders.

“This, unfortunately has gotten into a political issue,” he said, “and one particular demographic group is being singled out and I think unfairly,” referring to Mexicans.

When asked to describe Trump’s first week in office, Nelson described it simply as “rocky.”

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Sean Spicer cites ‘studies’ to back Donald Trump voter claim

The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

2 p.m.

A spokesman says President Donald Trump’s belief that there were millions of illegal votes cast in the November election is based on “studies and evidence.”

But spokesman Sean Spicer did not provide examples of that evidence.

Trump first made the false claim during the transition. He reiterated the statement in a meeting Monday night with lawmakers, blaming illegal ballots for his loss of the popular vote.

Spicer says Trump “continues to maintain that belief.” There has been no evidence to support the claims that there was widespread voter fraud in the election.

Spicer’s only attempt to support Trump’s assertion was to point a 2008 Pew Research survey that showed a need to update voter registration systems.

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1:55 p.m.

An Agriculture Department research agency has banned the release of news releases, photos and other material to the public.

In a memo to employees at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, chief of staff Sharon Drumm said the agency would immediately cease releasing any “public-facing” documents.

“This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” read the email memo obtained by The Associated Press.

A statement released by ARS spokesman Christopher Bentley said the agency “values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public as we strive to find solutions to agricultural problems affecting America.”

The statement said some material would still be available on the agency’s website.

Buzzfeed News first reported the memo.

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1:50 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has accepted House Speaker Paul Ryan‘s invitation to address a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28.

Ryan announced the invitation on Tuesday and informed reporters after a meeting with House Republicans. Ryan had met with Trump Monday night at the White House. Trump also met with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders on Monday.

Trump was meeting Tuesday at the White House with top Senate leaders.

The speech will be Trump’s first to Congress. He was sworn into office on Friday.

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12:45 p.m.

The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants.

Emails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed the specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.

The Trump administration has also ordered a “temporary suspension” of all new business activities at the department, including issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors. The orders are expected to have a significant and immediate impact on EPA activities nationwide.

The EPA did not respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment Monday or Tuesday.

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12:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is hanging up some new art in the White House press area — and it’s none too subtle.

The panoramic photo shows the crowds gathered near the U.S. Capitol for Trump’s inauguration on Friday. It’s a nod to the ongoing interest the president has in making it clear that his event was well-attended.

Trump tweeted: “A photo delivered yesterday that will be displayed in the upper/lower press hall. Thank you Abbas!” For emphasis, the official Twitter account of the president retweeted the @realDonaldTrump message. The photo was taken by Washington-area photographer Abbas Shirmohammadi, and it notes the wrong date — Jan. 21, although it does appear to depict the correct event.

Trump and press secretary Sean Spicer have taken pains to play up the crowd size, sometimes exaggerating the number in attendance. They’ve excoriated the media for what they said is an effort to downplay enthusiasm for Trump’s inauguration.

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11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump has taken steps to streamline the permitting process for manufacturing.

He also wants pipelines to be made in the U.S. and an expedited process for environmental reviews and approvals.

The steps came as Trump signed executive actions to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. Former President Barack Obama blocked construction in late 2015 of the Keystone line from Canada to the U.S. Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers is studying alternative routes for the Dakota Access pipeline.

Trump describes the regulatory process as a “tangled up mess.” He says if the answer is no, it should be a quick no. If the answer is yes, Trump says “let’s start building.”

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11:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he will announce his pick to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat sometime next week.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he’ll be “making my decision this week” and “we’ll be announcing it next week.”

“We have some outstanding candidates,” the president said. “And we’ll pick a truly great Supreme Court justice.”

The Supreme Court has only had eight justices since Justice Antonin Scalia died last year. President Barack Obama nominated a replacement but Republicans in the Senate refused to bring the choice up for a vote.

During his campaign, Trump publicly identified nearly two dozen candidates for the vacancy.

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11:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump has signed executive actions to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

Trump tells reporters in the Oval Office that the moves on the pipelines will be subject to the terms and conditions being renegotiated by the U.S.

President Barack Obama killed the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in late 2015, saying it would hurt American efforts to reach a global climate change deal.

The pipeline would run from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast. The U.S. government needs to approve the pipeline because it crossed the border.

The Army decided last year to explore alternate routes for the Dakota pipeline after the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters said the pipeline threatened drinking water and Native American cultural sites.

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10:50 a.m.

FBI Director James Comey is staying in his job. A Justice Department memo lists him among officials remaining in their positions.

FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms intended to carry across presidential administrations, even when a new party takes over the White House.

President Donald Trump criticized the FBI during the campaign for its decision not to recommend charges against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. But he also appeared to warmly greet Comey at a law enforcement gathering over the weekend.

Comey is in his fourth year in the job.

The New York Times first reported that Comey would stay on.

The director’s job has been a 10-year term since 1976. Since then, only one has been removed prematurely — Reagan appointee William Sessions by Bill Clinton in 1993.

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9:48 a.m.

President Donald Trump is expected to take executive action Tuesday to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

That’s according to a person with knowledge of the action. The president is scheduled to sign orders at the White House late Tuesday morning.

Former President Barack Obama killed the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in late 2015, declaring it would have undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal that was a centerpiece of his environmental legacy. The pipeline would run from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Gulf Coast. The U.S. government needed to approve the pipeline because it crossed the border.

The Army decided last year to explore alternate routes for the Dakota pipeline after the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters said the pipeline threatened drinking water and Native American cultural sites.

The person with knowledge of the decisions insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to confirm the moves ahead of a formal announcement.

-By Julie Pace

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9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s an environmentalist.

The president made the comments Tuesday at a breakfast with auto industry executives.

He didn’t elaborate on why he sees himself as an environmentalist, but the comments came after urging companies from the auto industry and beyond to bring jobs back to the U.S.

On Monday, he made similar comments at a business breakfast, stating, again without elaborating, “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment. I have received awards on the environment.”

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9:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is spending the morning meeting with auto executives as part of his push to bring jobs back to the U.S.

Trump told his guests Tuesday at the White House that he’s looking to ease regulations to help auto companies and any other businesses wishing to do business in the U.S.

Among the attendees of the breakfast are Ford Motor Co. chief executive Mark Fields, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and General Motors chief executive Mary Barra.

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3:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s efforts to build bridges and push through his agenda have been overshadowed once again with his continued fixation on the election and more false claims.

During a bipartisan reception with lawmakers at the White House late Monday, Trump claimed the reason he’d lost the popular vote to his Democratic rival was that 3 million to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally had voted.

That’s according to a Democratic aide familiar with the exchange who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting. There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim.

Trump on Tuesday will continue his outreach efforts as he meets with executives from the auto industry and speaks by phone with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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White House press secretary: ‘Our intention is never to lie’

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a roomful of reporters that “our intention is never to lie to you,” although sometimes the Trump administration may “disagree with the facts.”

Spicer’s first full press briefing was closely watched Monday following a weekend statement about President Donald Trump‘s inauguration audience that included incorrect assertions. After White House counselor Kellyanne Conway received wide social media attention for her explanation that Spicer had presented “alternative facts,” Monday’s briefing was televised live on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and, for a time, even ABC.

Meanwhile, ABC announced that anchor David Muir would interview Trump for a one-hour prime-time special to air at 10 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Spicer tried to defuse tension by opening with a self-deprecating joke about his lack of popularity, and his 78-minute session was wide-ranging and mostly substantive. He corrected one disputed statement from Saturday, defended another and expressed some frustration regarding how the new Trump administration feels about its news coverage.

Asked for a pledge not to lie, Spicer assented, saying, “I believe we have to be honest with the American people.” He said he had received incorrect information about Inauguration day ridership on the Washington Metro system when he initially claimed the system was used more Friday than for Barack Obama‘s 2013 inauguration.

“There are times when you tweet something out or write a story and you publish a correction,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you were trying to deceive readers or the American people, does it? I think we should be afforded the same opportunity.”

Spicer didn’t back down from his claim that Trump’s inauguration was the most-seen ever, clarifying that he was including people who watched online. The ceremony didn’t have the highest TV ratings and aerial photographs indicate the live crowd wasn’t as big as it was for Obama’s first swearing-in, but there are no reliable crowd estimates or numbers indicating how many people across the world watched the ceremony online.

He expressed frustration about an erroneous report, later corrected, stating that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from a room in the White House following Trump’s inauguration.

“Where was the apology to the president of the United States?” Spicer said. “Where was the apology to the millions of people who thought that it was racially insensitive?”

One reporter said Spicer had accepted an apology from the news outlet that made the mistake in a pool report.

Spicer would not say whether he was ordered by Trump or other staffers to make Saturday’s statement, but explained some of the thinking that went into it. Like countless White House staffs before them, the Trump team is exasperated about “negative” and “demoralizing” coverage.

“When we’re right, say we’re right,” he said. “When we’re wrong, say we’re wrong. But it’s not always wrong and negative.”

Spicer broke with the White House tradition of opening briefings with a question from The Associated Press. The AP was traditionally given the first question because it is a broad-based news cooperative that represents the largest swath of American newspapers, broadcasters and other kinds of news organizations.

Instead, Spicer initially called on a reporter from the New York Post, and he took questions from several news organizations that were rarely called on during the previous administration. He said four seats in the briefing room would be kept open for out-of-town reporters to participate via Skype.

The new press secretary — who took no questions Saturday — drew a laugh when he said he’d stay at the podium for as long as the reporters wanted him there, and he nearly did.

“I want to make sure we have a healthy relationship,” he said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Jared Moskowitz files resolution condemning U.N. Security Council Israeli settlement vote

A South Florida Democrat has filed a resolution calling on the Florida House to stand with Congress in its condemnation of the United Nations.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat, filed a resolution (HR 281) last week objecting to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.

“The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 undermined the long-standing position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nation Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final-status issues or are one sided and anti Israel, reversing decades of bipartisan agreement,” reads the proposed House resolution. “The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution undermines the prospect of Israelis and Palestinians resuming productive, direct, bilateral negotiations.”

In December, then-President Barack Obama’s administration abstained from a U.N. Security Council resolution that called Israeli settlements on land claimed by Palestinians a violation of international law. The U.S. had used its veto power to block similar measures in the past.

Days later, the GOP led U.S. House passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the resolution. The vote, according to the Washington Post, reflected the bipartisan nature of Congress’s support for Israel.

Moskowitz’s proposal will likely find bipartisan support in the Florida House as well. In 2016, a bill requiring the State Board of Administration to identify companies it does business with that are boycotting Israel overwhelmingly passed both the House (112-2) and the Senate (38-0). Moskowitz carried that bill in the Florida House.

“The United Nations has proven time and again that it lacks the ability to be an impartial mediator when it comes to issues of the state of Israel. The fact that one of the most holy sites of the Jewish people, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, is considered occupied territory under the terms of UNSCR 2334 is just the most egregious example of this continuing bias,” said Moskowitz in a statement. “I have no doubt that if any other holy site in the world was considered occupied territory, other nations around the world would be outraged, and rightly so. I urge my colleagues to support this resolution expressing our disappointment in the United States decision to break from long-standing tradition of allowing the two sides to negotiate independently towards a viable two-state solution and to reaffirm Florida’s continuing friendship with the Israeli people.”

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Fact Check: Donald Trump overstates crowd size at inaugural

President associated Donald Trump‘s speech Saturday at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency turned into the latest battle in, as he put it, his “running war with the media.” He had two central complaints: that the media misrepresented the size of the crowd at his inauguration and that it was incorrectly reported a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. was removed from the Oval Office. A look at those assertions:

TRUMP: “I made a speech. I looked out. The field was — it looked like a million, a million and a half people.”

The president went on to say that one network “said we drew 250,000 people. Now that’s not bad. But it’s a lie.” He then claimed that were 250,000 right by the stage and the “rest of the, you know, 20-block area, all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed.”

“So we caught them,” said Trump. “And we caught them in a beauty. And I think they’re going to pay a big price.”

THE FACTS: Trump is wrong. Photos of the National Mall from his inauguration make clear that the crowd did not extend to the Washington Monument. Large swaths of empty space are visible on the Mall.

Thin crowds and partially empty bleachers also dotted the inaugural parade route. Hotels across the District of Columbia reported vacancies, a rarity for an event as large as a presidential inauguration.

And ridership on the Washington’s Metro system didn’t match that of recent inaugurations.

As of 11 a.m. that day, there were 193,000 trips taken, according to the transit service’s Twitter account. At the same hour eight years ago, there had been 513,000 trips. Four years later, there were 317,000 for Obama‘s second inauguration. There were 197,000 at 11 a.m. in 2005 for President George W. Bush‘s second inauguration.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer later added to the misstatements.

Spicer claimed that it was the first time white “floor coverings” were used to protect the grass on the National Mall and that it drew attention to any empty space. But the same tarp was used four years ago.

Spicer also said it was “the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.”

The Secret Service says that this was the first time security fencing was installed around the National Mall for an inauguration. To get onto the Mall, people were required to go through one of seven checkpoints where their bags were checked, but there were no magnetometers used at those checkpoints.

A law enforcement official not authorized to publicly discuss the inauguration says officials were “not aware of any issues with flow rate in and around the National Mall.”

Spicer then said, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”

He offered no evidence and there is no immediate way to confirm such a claim.

But photo taken during Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration showed substantially more people on the Mall. It is not known how many people watched the ceremony on television around the globe. In the U.S., Nielsen estimates 31 million viewers watched TV coverage, but that’s less than Barack Obama’s and Ronald Reagan‘s first inaugurations.

The exact size of the crowd Friday may never be known. The National Park Service stopped providing estimates in the 1990s.

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TRUMP: The president also went after a reporter who incorrectly wrote that the president had removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. The reporter later acknowledged the error, saying a Secret Service agent and a door had obstructed his view of the bust when reporters were allowed into the room briefly after Trump’s swearing in.

“But this is how dishonest the media is,” Trump said.

“Now, big story, the retraction was like, where?” he asked. “Was it a line or do they even bother running it?”

THE FACTS: Trump is right. The reporter for Time magazine made an error. The White House said Trump never removed the King bust from the Oval Office.

The error about the bust was first transmitted in a pool report distributed among reporters. The White House often uses a pool system when not all reporters who want to attend an event can be accommodated in a space.

At 7:30 p.m., reporter Zeke Miller wrote a pool report saying, “The MLK bust was no longer on display.”

Once Miller realized his error, an update was sent to the pool. “The MLK bust remains in the Oval Office, in addition to the Churchill bust, per a WH aide. It was apparently obscured by a door and an agent during the spray. Your pool offers sincerest apologies.”

Miller also corrected the error on Twitter, and Time magazine corrected its story based on his report.

Republish with permission of The Associated Press.

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No American Covenant or New Frontier for this president. Donald Trump speaks of ‘American carnage.’

America is getting what it ordered on Election Day.

If anyone was expecting an evolution from Donald Trump the candidate to Donald Trump the president, never mind.

The new president delivered an inaugural address Friday that was straight from his campaign script — to the delight or dismay of different subsets of Americans.

Trump gave nods to unity and began with kind words for Barack and Michelle Obama, but pivoted immediately to a searing indictment of the status quo and the Obama years.

Presidents past have promised an American Covenant, a New Frontier, a Great Society.

Trump sketched a vision of “American carnage.”

Then he promised to end it with a nationalist “America First” approach to governing.

It was a speech for Trump’s supporters, but maybe not those who voted for somebody else.

When Trump told the crowd on the National Mall and watching from afar that “everyone is listening to you now” and spoke of a “historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before,” he seemed to harking back to his voters.

“At some point, there has got to be a transference to being the leader of all the people,” said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, though, heard “exactly the speech Trump needed to give to be the kind of president he wants to be.”

“In a very workmanlike way, he was reasserting precisely the themes that had gotten him elected,” Gingrich said. “He is trying to communicate how he sees the next few years from his perspective: It will basically be pitched again and again as the people vs. the establishment, and it will be constant striving to reform the system.”

In his 16-minute inaugural, Trump spoke in grim terms of families trapped in poverty, shuttered factories dotting the landscape like tombstones, of rampant crime, drugs and gangs.

It was an echo of the bleak message he delivered at the Republican National Convention — and likewise short on specifics for how he will solve those problems.

His pledge to make things better came wrapped as a nostalgic paean to better days long gone.

“America will start winning again, winning like never before,” the new president said. “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.”

Nostalgia works for some Americans, but not all.

“If you’re an African-American, 50 years ago doesn’t seem so great to you,” said Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a frequent Trump critic. “You need some kind of vision for a future America.”

The new president “amplifies resentments” in the name of pursuing change, said Gerson. “It’s always us vs. them.”

Trump did directly take on the nation’s modern security challenges by giving a blanket promise to “eradicate completely from the face of the earth” the scourge of “Radical Islamic Terrorism” — a capitalized phrase that the Obama administration refused even to utter.

But he’s given few details about how he’ll do that.

Granted, inaugurals aren’t meant to be wonky policy speeches. But they must be backed by a plan of action to have oomph.

As the new president took office, whitehouse.gov was filling up with policy pages that were long on broad goals and light on specifics.

And the question marks about his policies on taxes, trade, immigration, terrorism and more are magnified by the sometimes contradictory policy pronouncements coming from his Cabinet nominees.

Going into Friday’s address, Trump already had a lot of work to do to rally the nation behind him.

Just 40 percent of Americans have a favorable view of him, far lower than any other president-elect’s popularity since at least the 1970s, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll.

And if he can’t deliver on the bold promises of his inaugural, he’ll lose those he does have in his corner.

“The speech is notable for laying down very specific markers by which his presidency will be assessed,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “The categorical nature of those markers is going to be problematic for him.”

Gingrich put it more bluntly:

“If he keeps us safe and creates jobs, he will almost certainly be re-elected. If he can’t do those things, he’s in deep trouble.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Promises, pomp and protests as Donald Trump sworn in

Pledging to empower America’s “forgotten men and women,” Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States Friday, taking command of a deeply divided nation and ushering in an unpredictable era in Washington. His victory gives Republicans control of the White House for the first time in eight years.

Looking out over the crowd sprawled across the National Mall, Trump painted a bleak picture of the nation he now leads, lamenting “American carnage,” shuttered factories and depleted U.S. leadership. President Barack Obama, the man he replaced, sat behind him stoically.

Trump’s address lasted just 16 minutes. While his inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.

Demonstrations unfolded at various security checkpoints near the Capitol as police helped ticket-holders get through. After the swearing-in, more protesters registered their rage in the streets of Washington. Police in riot gear deployed pepper spray and made numerous arrests after protesters smashed the windows of downtown businesses, denouncing capitalism and Trump.

The new president’s first words as commander in chief were an unapologetic reprisal of the economic populism and nationalism that fueled his improbable campaign. He vowed to stir “new national pride,” bring jobs back to the United States, and “eradicate completely” Islamic terrorism.

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only, ‘America First,'” Trump said.

His address lasted just 16 minutes. While Trump’s inauguration did draw crowds to the nation’s capital, the numbers appeared smaller than for past celebrations.

In a remarkable scene, Trump ripped into Washington’s longtime leaders as he stood among them at the U.S. Capitol. For too long, he said, “a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”

For Republicans eager to be back in the White House, there was little mention of the party’s bedrock principles: small government, social conservativism and robust American leadership around the world. Trump, who is taking office as one of the most unpopular incoming presidents in modern history, made only oblique references to those who may be infuriated and fearful of his presidency.

“To all Americans in every city near and far, small and large from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again,” he said.

The new president was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, reciting the 35-word oath with his hand placed upon two Bibles, one used by his family and another during President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.

Trump and wife, Melania, bid Obama and outgoing first lady Michelle Obama farewell as they departed the Capitol grounds in a government helicopter. Trump and Obama’s political paths have been linked in remarkable ways. Before running for the White House, the billionaire businessman led efforts to promote falsehoods about the 44th president’s citizenship and claim on the office.

Obama addressed a staff gathering at Joint Base Andrews before departing for a vacation in California. “You proved the power of hope,” he said.

Trump’s journey to the inauguration was as unlikely as any in recent American history. He defied his party’s establishment, befuddled the media and toppled two political dynasties on his way to victory. His message, calling for a resurgence of white, working-class corners of America, was packaged in defiant stump speeches railing against political correctness. He used social media to dominate the national conversation and challenge conventions about political discourse. After years of Democratic control of the White House and deadlock in Washington, his was a blast of fresh air for millions.

But Trump’s call for restrictive immigration measures and his caustic campaign rhetoric about women and minorities angered millions. And Trump’s swearing-in was shadowed by questions about his ties to Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies have determined worked to tip the 2016 election in his favor.

More than 60 House Democrats refused to attend his swearing in ceremony in the shadow of the Capitol dome. One Democrat who did sit among the dignitaries was Hillary Clinton, Trump’s vanquished campaign rival who was widely expected by both parties to be the one taking the oath of office.

At a post-ceremony luncheon at the Capitol, Trump asked the Republicans and Democrats present to recognize her, and those in the room rose and applauded.

At 70, Trump is the oldest person to be sworn in as president, marking a generational step backward after two terms for Obama, one of the youngest presidents to serve as commander in chief.

Trump takes charge of an economy that has recovered from the Great Recession but has nonetheless left millions of Americans feeling left behind. The nation’s longest war is still being waged in Afghanistan and U.S. troops are battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The American health care system was expanded to reach millions more Americans during Obama’s tenure, but at considerable financial costs. Trump has vowed to dismantle and rebuild it.

Trump faces challenges as the first president to take office without ever having held a political position or served in the military. He has stacked his Cabinet with established Washington figures and wealthy business leaders. Though his team’s conservative bent has been cheered by many Republicans, the overwhelmingly white and male Cabinet has been criticized for a lack of diversity.

Before attending an inaugural luncheon, Trump signed his first series of orders, including the official nominations for his Cabinet. He joked with lawmakers, including House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and handed out presidential pens.

In a show of solidarity, all of the living American presidents attended Trump’s inaugural, except for 92-year-old George H.W. Bush, who was hospitalized this week with pneumonia. His wife, Barbara, was also admitted to the hospital after falling ill.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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On Barack Obama’s last day in office, Ed Narain gives thanks to what he accomplished

Although Friday has been a tough and day for Democrats around the country, former Florida state representative Ed Narain says he chooses to be happy as he celebrates the end of Barack Obama‘s eight year administration. That’s because, Narain writes, after Jesse Jackson failed to win the White House during his two tries in the 1980’s, he believed that he would never see a black man attain the highest office in the land, but Obama proved him and so many others wrong.

“On this day eight years ago my friends and I stood freezing on the National Mall to witness the shattering of a ceiling we had literally been taught would never be broken and it inspired us to live up to the fullest of our potential because truly just like him, we could too,” Narain wrote in a statement he issued out on Friday. “For many, most of our children have been born during a time when the leader of the free world looked just like them. No one can tell than that they can’t or they won’t because of their skin color (though we still have ceilings to break with gender).”

Like Obama, Narain also no longer holds public office, after narrowly losing his bid for the state Senate District 19 seat to Darryl Rouson. Although sidelined for the moment, most political observers predict the 40-year-old New York city native will return again to political office.

Here’s his statement in full:

While today is a sad day for some, I choose to be happy. I’m not happy because President Obama’s tenure is over. I’m happy because like a good relationship that comes to an expected end, I’m glad we had this time together.
In 1984, Jesse Jackson’s “Keep Hope Alive” mantra was so inspiring to this then eight year old. Four years later, when he wasn’t chosen to be the Vice Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, I was disappointed but not discouraged that America wasn’t ready to accept an African American as one of its standard bearers.
In 1993, a teacher told my classmates and I that we would never see a Black President in our lifetime. She said that a woman would be first and eventually our grandkids would see a Black president. I don’t think she said this because she was prejudiced, I think it was because in her life experience, the country just hadn’t changed enough to accept people who looked like me in political leadership. Maybe because I was no longer a child but on that day, I stopped believing it would happen in our lifetime.
This is why President Barack Obama’s election meant so much to so many. “Yes We Can” was the fulfillment of the “hope” Jesse asked us to keep alive. For Gen Xers like me, it meant our natural sense of skepticism could finally give way to the possibility that people could be fair and America would live up to its promise of opportunity for all, regardless of how stupid, superficial factors of race and gender often divide us.
On this day eight years ago my friends and I stood freezing on the National Mall to witness the shattering of a ceiling we had literally been taught would never be broken and it inspired us to live up to the fullest of our potential because truly just like him, we could too
For many, most of our children have been born during a time when the leader of the free world looked just like them. No one can tell than that they can’t or they won’t because of their skin color (though we still have ceilings to break with gender)
So while I’m sad to see him leave I’m happy because his legacy is greater than just political accomplishments or ground breaking legislation. I’m thankful for what his time in the White House represented.
For an older generation he was the fulfillment of a “dream” that millions were unfairly locked out of participating in.For my generation, he was the inspiration that gave permission to believe in achieving the impossible.
For our children’s generation, he is not a Black President; just “The President” and that is the legacy of hope and equality we must all work hard to keep aliv
Thank you Mr. President. You have meant and still mean so much.
Today I choose to be happy.
– Ed
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At Inauguration watch party in North Tampa, great expectations for a Trump presidency

Approximately three dozen Donald Trump supporters cheered incessantly at a Beef O’Brady’s in North Tampa on Friday morning, before, during and after the longtime New York real estate mogul was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

“We did this,” exclaimed Terry Castro, a co-chair with the Trump campaign in north Hillsborough County, immediately after the swearing-in ceremony.

“These are all the people who worked in the north Hillsborough Trump office and helped us make this day come true,” added co-chair Rebecca DoBoer.

“It’s all about the people,” DoBoer continued, echoing a theme of the Republican’s inaugural address. “Whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. It’s a movement of people who want to turn back to the days when we had great jobs and everyone could succeed.”

Trump’s signature campaign theme of making America “great again,” was definitely what many in the bar believed will come true over the next four and possibly eight years.

“I’m excited for America to be wonderful again,” said Tampa resident Peggy Kienzle. When pressed about what that actually means, she harkened back to her youth.

“I think of the 50’s and 60’s when I was growing up. I remember every man going to work every day as proud Americans. Patriotism,” she recounted. “It was the 1960’s with JFK. There was so much pride in this country and what we stood for. I am still very proud to be an American and always will be, but I am really anxious to see where he can take our country.”

59-year-old Tampa citizen Charles Harris also invoked the past in discussing Trump’s appeal. “We need the leadership that we once had in the 1960’s when we had a backbone and we had a military readiness that we used to have and I think we need to be more prepared and I think we need to just get back to our goal as being the most powerful nation on the face of the earth,” he said, adding, “this country has lost respect in every other avenue on this earth. Other countries used to respect us, even the terrorists knew not to mess with us, but now that may change and we may get that respect back.”

Although some have questioned Trump’s bonafides when it comes to how spiritual he actually is, some in the audience at the family friendly sports bar said they celebrated his faith.

“I think he’s a real Christian,” said Rita Lynn. “I think that’s very important that we depend on God to tell us and guide us on what to do. ”

“The thing that I’m most impressed about actually is that he’s a Christian man and he loves America, and you can see it in everything that he does,” added Kienzle.

When pressed about what specifically they hope that Trump accomplishes in office, several people in the multiracial crowd said they wanted him to eliminate what they said were way too many regulations promulgated during the Obama administration that they claim are strangling U.S. businesses.

“This country has always been where one where people with ideas can risk and build a future for themselves and their family, and the abundance of this country has come out of people who were willing to question, challenge and create, and you have a man coming out of the private sector who knows just how devastating regulations are,” said Bill Luria, 70. A practicing physician, Luria is excited to see the Affordable Care Act wither away, saying whatever the replacement turns out will “be a massive improvement.”

Tampa resident Aaron Bergman says he personally doesn’t care about the Republican Party. He says the problem is that the U.S. government is of and for Washington and not of and for the people, and says he truly believes that the new president will “drain the swamp.”

Bergman celebrates Trump as a “once in a lifetime candidate because he’s not beholden” to anyone – special interests, the political parties, or the media.

“The media did everything in their power to destroy him, and it failed,” he says.

Many of the Trump supporters qualified their statements by acknowledging that as happy as they were on Friday, half the nation was equally unhappy, if not downright despondent about the fact that the Republican Party will control all levers of the federal government for the first time in a decade.

And while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and congressional Republicans dug in early to thwart Barack Obama in his administration,  St. Petersburg resident Tyler Prince says that Republican rank and file members did view the now former president with an open mind, and he’s asking for the same consideration for the new one.

“Just give the guy a chance,” he said. “Eight years ago I didn’t protest. It was a tough time for us. We gave Obama a chance, so we hope that everybody does the same for Trump.”

However with more than 60 congressional Democrats boycotting or simply sitting out the inauguration, and with protests planned in hundreds of cities across the country on Saturday, that idea remains uncertain at this time.

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