President Donald Trump came to the House chamber on Tuesday night pushing a message of unity, but the deep divisions that have ripped this city apart over the last two years were on vivid display throughout the night.
The Democrats in the audience — many of whom wore white, the color of the suffragettes, in protest of Trump — spent much of the speech on their hands, shaking their heads and even groaning aloud. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was caught sighing and rolling her eyes — and immediately pounced on the moment to raise money for her presidential campaign.
A newly empowered Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker, peered over the president’s shoulder for much of the speech, sometimes sitting stoically as Republicans jumped up to applaud. When the president declared, “the state of our union is strong,” Pelosi remained still and shook her head.
Trump and his aides spent the last several days promising a transformative speech in which the president would challenge Congress to set aside its differences and find common ground on issues like rebuilding the country’s infrastructure and lowering prescription drug prices.