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Trump by the Numbers: Inaugural Speech Takes Campaign to Capitol

Trump adjusted his tone, but not his message of a country in dire need of fixing
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The key moment of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration address came almost precisely at its midpoint, 722 words into the 1,433-word speech. That’s when Trump transitioned from a litany of America’s past failures to a vision of its future successes, announcing, “from this moment on, it's going to be America first.”

Trump’s closing crescendo brought his campaign slogan to the National Mall, promising to “make America strong again,” then “wealthy,” “proud,” “safe,” and finally “great again,” accounting for five of Trump’s 34 mentions of “America” or “American(s)” in the speech. That patriotic fervor set an all-time record for mentions of “America” or “American(s)” in an inauguration speech (24 mentions per 1,000 total words) and contrasted sharply with his predecessor, Barack Obama, whose two inauguration speeches mark a notable dent in the general uptrend of “America” mentions since 1789.



When Trump put “America First” in an international context, he continued to upend precedent. Trump called it “the right of all nations to put their own interests first,” a far cry from the “ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world” from George W. Bush’s 2005 inaugural, or from the famous promise in John Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”