President-elect Donald Trump privately told several visitors to his winter retreat in Florida on Wednesday that he is writing the first draft of his inaugural speech and is looking to presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy for inspiration, according to three people familiar with the conversation.
Trump told them that Reagan’s “style” and Kennedy’s articulation of grand national ambitions are central to how he thinks through his own speech, which will be given Jan. 20, the people said.
And while Trump is working closely with Stephen Miller, his aide and speechwriter, on the text, he confided that in recent days he has become more personally involved in the writing process, the people said. -- Robert Costa, Washington PostT: What’s this “bear any burden” crap?
M: That’s the whole theme of the Kennedy speech, sir. You know, "Ask not what your country can do for you —"
T: "Ask what you can do to the country," yeah, I got it, but "bear any burden," "let us go forth"— it sounds like I’m asking them to do something. My people won’t go for that.
M: But sir, you wanted to model on Kennedy because he was inspiring.
T: Yeah, that’s what I want, inspiration! Look, this should be easy, okay? We told the press “grand national ambitions,” right? And what’s grander and more ambitious than me? And now national, because I’m the national president. Take anything, take a dog turd, and put Trump next to it and it’s grand and national and ambitious.
M: But sir, the language —
T: Cripes, what am I paying you for? Take some words from Kennedy! It’s not like they’re gonna check. Like the bit about vim and vigor, how about we use that?
M: That’s not actually in the speech.
T: Huh. Maybe it’s in his second inaugural. How about you get me that one?
M: Sir, the point is you can’t inspire people without asking them to do something.
T: Baloney. Okay, let’s look at the Reagan speeches. He’s more my style anyway. [scans pages, laughs] Boy, he didn’t like the Russians, huh? Maybe I oughta say something about that — you know, Reagan was great, the best, but he was wrong about the Russians, maybe because, let's be honest, his arteries weren't as soft as they used to be — as opposed to me, because I have vim and vigor. [reads more] Jeez, these are long, huh? And no jokes. See, I think maybe he was senile, because he left out his best lines. Like “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” I still remember that one! Well, I’m using “build the wall” and “Crooked Hillary,” you can count on that. Oh, and I got a new one: “Pelosi with a ‘P’ — the ‘P’ stands for ‘bitch’!” Crowd’ll eat it up.
M: Maybe we can put in a little story — like Martin Treptow at the end of Reagan’s first inaugural.
T: What, the guy from World War I who got shot taking a message? That loser? Wait a minute — how about we tell a story about a different messenger — like for a law firm or something, a foot messenger, and it’s in Chicago, but he gets shot by a Mexican gang, and when he's dead they look at his message and it says, “We need Donald Trump, build the wall.”
M: Is that a real story, sir?
T: Let me ask you something — you see this thing in Reagan’s second speech: “I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn't kill people, it would destroy weapons. It wouldn't militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of Earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to rid the world of the threat of nuclear destruction.” Now you’re telling he can have that in there, and I can’t have my Chicago messenger? We’ll call him Lenny, that sounds pretty white.