Washington (CNN) –Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States on Friday, vowing to drain power from Washington elites and always put “America first” in its dealings with the world at a moment of transformative political change.
In a time-honored ceremony on the flag-draped West Front of the Capitol earlier in the afternoon, Trump placed his left hand on a family Bible and another that belonged to Abraham Lincoln and promised to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. As light rain began to fall on a crowd stretching toward the Washington Monument, Trump took the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts with the new first lady, Melania, by his side.
Though he paid tribute to outgoing President Barack Obama, the President sketched a vision of America that came across as a repudiation of the last administration. He promised to restore the nation’s strength and purpose and to rebuild it from within, vowing to “bring back” American jobs, borders, wealth and dreams.
In what is always a poignant moment, the former President Obama and his wife left Capitol Hill on a helicopter bound for Joint Base Andrews for a farewell ceremony before taking one last flight on the presidential jet. The Obamas are heading to Palm Springs, California, for a vacation.
Trump attended a joint congressional inaugural luncheon in the Capitol before heading back to the White House for the inaugural parade. Halfway along Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump’s vehicle stopped and the new first couple walked hand in hand past the cheering crowds. By the time the motorcade approached the new Trump hotel, the President was back in the hulking car.
In the evening, Trump and the new first lady will attend two inaugural balls, part of the stripped-down inaugural festivities that aides say are meant to stress that the new president is eager to get to work.
Supporters excited; others concerned
Trump is promising to build a wall on the southern border, to crack down on undocumented migrants and to gut the financial and environmental regulations that are at the center of the Obama administration’s legacy.
New presidents typically use the inaugural address — viewed by a huge crowd fanned out on the National Mall and millions of television viewers — to issue a call for national unity and ease the wounds of divisive elections. They typically remind Americans of the values and the history that binds them and of the nation’s historic mission.
Trump, so far, has done little to reach out to his foes since November.
“He is still talking as if he is the insurgent candidate rather than the President-elect,” said Robert Rowland, an expert on presidential rhetoric at the University of Kansas. “Historically, presidents who are effective use inaugural addresses to heal the wounds of the campaign, to talk about what it means to be an American, to discuss shared values and lay out their political principles to come across as a strong not vain leader.”