Hosts on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC praised President Donald Trump for staying on-script (for the most part) during his Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress.
They also agreed that the speech’s emotional highlight was the extended standing ovation received by the widow of a U.S. commando killed during the first counter-terrorism operation of Trump’s presidency.
“The speech had a lot in it, a lot of emotion, a lot of different sort of peaks and different feelings as he went through it,” Martha MacCallum said on Fox News.
“This seemed to be by far the most powerful moment of the speech with Ryan’s widow Carryn looking heavenward during the applause, saying ‘I love you, baby,’ and she cried,” Fox’s Bret Baier said.
“A very strong finish, believe in yourselves, believe in your future and believe once more in America,” MacCallum said. “We were told this was going to be an inspiring, uplifting speech tonight, Bret, and I think he hit the mark.”
“I mean, it was very optimistic,” Baier agreed.
He noted that “a lot of the Democrats” left the chamber early.
“It was a much more subdued President Trump than we’ve seen,” Jake Tapper noted on CNN. “He stuck for the most part, 95 percent, to the teleprompter and the words that had been written for him, with him by his speech writers. It was a speech in which he clearly was trying to reset in a lot of ways.”
Tapper said that while Trump’s tone “might have been one thing,” Democrats and moderate Republicans will still find “issues” in his speech that are “not so unifying.”
CNN’s Dana Bash said that for Trump the address was “kind of the best of his stump speeches.”
“The most presidential of manners that we have heard from Donald Trump to date, period,” she said. “Much more so, even, and especially, I would say, than his inaugural address. To Jake’s point, he clearly is trying to reset here.”
“It’s without a doubt one of his best speeches that I’ve ever heard,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper said. “I think emotionally that moment where he’s speaking to Carryn Owens, the widow of William “Ryan” Owens, Navy SEAL who was killed in that operation in Yemen, it was without a doubt one of the most kind of emotional moments we have seen in a political speech like this in quite some time.”
“I thought the night’s moment was Karen Owens talking to her husband. She is talking to her lost husband, her lost husband,” Chris Matthews said on MSNBC. “I just think there’s nothing more to say than the power of that moment.”
“You know, for the first eight pages we saw a remarkably disciplined Donald Trump, remarkable for him in terms of how close he hewed to the teleprompter and then he started wiggling off it with the ad libs, absolutely,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said.
She predicted that the speech would be “well-received” by Trump’s standards.
“Easily the most traditional speech he has given in public life,” Brian Williams said. “The most speech-like speech, if you will.”