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Trump reined in his style for this year’s State of the Union

Following impeachment, Trump improvised half as much as his previous two years


President Donald Trump prides himself on being extemporaneous.

A CQ Roll Call analysis of Trump’s previous two State of the Union speeches and his 2017 speech — known as an address to a joint session of Congress — shows he mostly reined himself in from the other two SOTUs. But, he still managed to add in some signature twists.

Take this quote from Tuesday:

“In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline, and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We have totally rejected the downsizing.”

The sentence “We have totally rejected the downsizing,” isn’t in the prepared remarks, and it adds his characteristic style.

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In total, Trump had about half as many departures from his prepared remarks than he did in 2018.

The prepared remarks released by the White House don’t necessarily reflect what is shown on the teleprompter. Last minute changes, style tweaks and — in one case Tuesday night — a planned, surprise medal, can be left off the prepared version released by the White House to reporters just before the speech begins.

With many previous administrations, reporters would get the prepared version one or two hours in advance. On Tuesday, and with many joint addresses in the Trump administration, the prepared version came out just as the president began speaking.


“Thank you.”

The phase Trump inserted the most was “thank you,” which he added 25 times as he called out to members or various guests invited to the gallery. Here are some of those instances, with off-script additions noted in bold.

“Working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellthank you, Mitch — and his colleagues …”

“Jody, would you please stand? Jody, thank you. Jody our hearts weep for your loss, and we will not rest until you have justice.”

“Janiyah and Stephanie are in the gallery. Stephanie, thank you so much for being here with your beautiful daughter. Thank you very much.”

Remember the Alamo?

Trump tends to add phrases that heighten drama. “Billions” often becomes “billions and billions.”

Trump’s added description of the Alamo drew reactions from those who remembered it differently than Trump described.

“… Texas patriots made their last stand at the Alamo — the beautiful, beautiful Alamo.”


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