Republicans are thrilled that Trump stayed on message during one of the big tests following his first year as president

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Republicans are thrilled that Trump stayed on message during one of the big tests following his first year as president

donald trump sotu

Pool/Win McNamee via Associated Press

President Donald Trump smiles during State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington.

  • Republicans appeared both relieved and elated following President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address.
  • Conservatives called the speech "outstanding," "amazing," and "inspirational."
  • A public opinion poll showed that 48% of people had a "very positive" impression of the speech" - though that's the lowest net positive rating for that poll since 1998.


President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening, declaring a "new American moment," boasting of tax reforms and the strength of the US economy, and appealing for an overhaul to legal immigration channels.

Reactions to Trump's speech fell largely along well-trod partisan lines, with Democrats outraged by his divisive rhetoric and portrayal of immigrants as national security threats, and Republicans celebrating his ability to stay on message with a mixture of relief and elation.

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"It was really an outstanding speech," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, according to Time. "It was terrific - far beyond what I anticipated. He's come a long way."

"He nailed it," Sen. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican, told CNN. "He stayed on target, he stayed on message."

Responses from Trump's allies in conservative media were predictably ecstatic, with Fox News host Sean Hannity declaring the address "amazing" and "inspirational."

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"To the haters in the media, and those that wanted him to fail, nobody cares what you have to say. America is back. Thank God," Hannity tweeted.

Laura Ingraham, another conservative Fox News host, noted on Twitter, "Been saying for awhile that in 2018 we needed to move from the 'politics of anger,' to the politics of the possible & progress. [Trump] did that last night."

Even Frank Luntz, a GOP pollster and political messaging strategist who has previously been critical of Trump, appeared euphoric.

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"Tonight, I owe Donald Trump an apology. Tonight, I was moved and inspired. Tonight, I have hope and faith in America again," Luntz tweeted.

'A conservative speech culturally and thematically'

Trump SOTU

Reuters/Win McNamee/Pool

President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address.

Others, however, were more tepid in their reactions.

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Conservative writer Jonah Goldberg wrote in the National Review that Trump's speech was "politically effective," adding that Trump rightly touted his economic achievements.

"This was for the most part a conservative speech culturally and thematically," Goldberg wrote. "But except for some laudable bits about streamlining the bureaucracy and improving FDA policy, there wasn't a hint of fiscal conservatism to it."

He also noted that the speech was hardly the bipartisan, unifying end product as the White House had teased, and he criticized Trump's long diatribe against the street gang MS-13 as "hyperbolic and exploitative."

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Public opinion of the speech appeared to be in Trump's favor, with 48% saying they had a "very positive" impression of the speech" and 28% saying they had negative impressions, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

But those ratings mark the lowest net positive rating for a State of the Union address since 1998, when CNN first began conducting the survey.

Democrats, meanwhile, remained staunch in their opposition to Trump and his speech, slamming his immigration priorities and sweeping promises of infrastructure funding. They attracted a sizable amount of criticism of their own for their reactions during Trump's speech and their refusal to stand or cheer at various points.

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"It was stunning to watch Washington Democrats sit there stone-faced and refuse to applaud more jobs, higher wages, jobs coming back to America," Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview.

Though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reportedly warned her Democratic colleagues not to disrupt the event and "let the attention be on [Trump's] slobbering self," several broke out in boos and at least one yelled, "That's not true" when Trump misrepresented a component of the US immigration system, declaring falsely that "a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives."