Trump lays out ambitious plans for healthcare and immigration in a disciplined speech to Congress

President Trump championed new approaches to healthcare and immigration Tuesday in a disciplined address to a joint session of Congress that may have been his most traditional political speech since he entered public life decades ago.

The outsider who has relished blunt and confrontational stage banter honed from talk radio delivered a speech that took aim at his long-promised goal: to be “more presidential than anybody.”

Trump softened some of the rougher edges of his nationalist ideology as a call for citizens to appeal to their better natures for a “renewal of the American spirit” and to leave “the trivial fights behind us.” He told the inspirational story of a child who survived a near-fatal disease and mourned with a widow who lost her husband to a botched military operation. And he sought to emphasize some of his proposals that may draw bipartisan support, such as lower-priced prescription drugs and paid family leave, prompting a rare ovation from Democrats in the room.

“Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed,” he said. “Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.”

Trump also failed to mention the so-called Dreamers, the young people temporarily shielded from deportation under an immigration program created by President Obama. Trump vowed during the campaign to end protections for them but has publicly wavered several times, and his administration continues to issue work permits to those who apply and qualify for the program.

Trump opened his address with his most expansive condemnation to date of acts of violence and vandalism motivated by religious and racial bigotry.  

“We may be a nation divided on policies; we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms,” he said, denouncing the spate of bomb threats to Jewish community centers and a shooting of two Indian men last week in Kansas.

The most powerful moment came when Trump acknowledged Carryn Owens, the widow of Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed Jan. 29 during a raid on a compound in Yemen used by Al Qaeda’s affiliate there.

William Owens, the Navy SEAL’s father, called for an investigation into the raid this week. The military has acknowledged that Yemeni civilians, including women and children, were also killed, along with 14 militants. 

Congress gave a standing ovation as Carryn Owens looked up, tears in her eyes, her hands folded. The applause lasted for more than a minute — the longest of the night. 

Democrats said the speech’s upbeat tone did not match Trump’s true agenda, or his performance so far.

Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, chosen to deliver the party’s response, said Trump’s early actions showed he was “Wall Street’s champion,” before turning to defend Obama’s healthcare overhaul that he said had been a revelation to his conservative-leaning state.

“Mr. President, folks here in Kentucky expect you to keep your word. Because this isn’t a game – it’s life and death for people,” he said.

Staff writers W.J. Hennigan, David Lauter and Sarah D. Wire contributed to this report. | Twitter: @noahbierman | Twitter: @mikememoli | Twitter: @bybrianbennett


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9:15 p.m.: This story was updated with more details from Trump’s address.

8:30 p.m.: This story was updated with more comments from Trump and the Democratic response.

7:30 p.m.: This story was updated with more comments from Trump.

6:15 p.m.: This story was updated with the start of Trump’s speech and prepared excerpts.

This story was originally published at 3:35 p.m.