Trump to write 'short' inaugural address himself

Gabrielle Levy


President-elect Donald Trump has gotten involved in penning his inaugural address, planning to craft a speech himself that he will keep short so supporters traveling to Washington for the ceremony won't have to stand out in the cold.

"He wants to write the inaugural himself," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who met with Trump on Wednesday to discuss the speech, told CNN.

"He doesn't want it to be long," Brinkley said on CNN. "He would like it to be a shorter one. He doesn't want people standing out in the cold."

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Trump writing the speech largely on his own would be a shift from the way the presidential transition team described the process earlier this week, when it announced Stephen Miller, who wrote some of Trump's major campaign addresses, would shoulder the bulk of the work.

Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on a transition update conference call on Thursday morning that Miller and other top aides tapped to join Trump's White House staff – senior advisers Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway as well as chief of staff Reince Priebus – will be involved in crafting the speech.

Brinkley said Trump is "starting to get into the zone" as Inauguration Day draws closer and that he is inspired by the high television ratings expected for the swearing-in to "put a lot of effort into it."

On Tuesday, transition spokesman Boris Epshteyn said the speech would focus on broadly optimistic themes, unlike his Republican National Convention address – crafted by Miller – that was seen by some as dark and pessimistic.

"They will be talking about uniting America, bringing American together. We are now in the post-politics, post-campaign season and that's the messaging around this inaugural," he told CNN. "I'm expecting a great address ... that talks to Americans about dreaming big, about making sure that we are a city on a hill one more time."

While most incoming presidents rely on full-time speechwriters for major addresses, Trump has eschewed – to the delight of his supporters – the filters that politicians' messages typically go through before reaching the public.

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​Spicer, speaking to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday, acknowledged that the president-elect is due to hold a press conference but that otherwise the media should recognize "business as usual is over."

The daily press briefings that have become the norm at the White House are likely to continue, Spicer said, but he expected the Trump administration to rely on social media to speak directly to the public.

"When he talks about Americans first, he means 'I don't care what a bunch of elites tell me or people at a dinner party,'" Spicer said. "He wants to know what American workers care about, what American families care about, what's going to help American businesses grow. And so, yes, if we have to maintain some traditions, we'll maintain them."