In his inaugural speech Wednesday, President Joe Biden called on Americans to put aside their differences and work together to strengthen democracy and repair a divided nation torn by political extremism.
After being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, Biden’s appeal for unity differed in tone and direction from President Donald Trump’s speech extolling “America first” four years earlier.
While Biden spoke of bringing people together and promised to be a president for all, Trump focused on shifting power from Washington politicians to all Americans and criticized job losses and income for American families.
USA TODAY reviewed the inaugural speeches of Biden, Trump and other presidents. Here is what we found:
While the messages of Biden and Trump were different, both quoted religious sources.
Biden: Many centuries ago, St. Augustine – the saint of my church – wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.
Trump: The Bible tells us, “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
While Biden spoke more than 1,000 words more than Trump, a USA TODAY analysis finds both presidents focused large portions of their speeches on three major themes.
Where Biden and Trump spoke on these topics during their speeches:
Most of Biden’s address was optimistic about the challenges ahead for his administration and the country, including the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.
Biden stressed unification: “Uniting to fight the foes we face – anger, resentment and hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness, and hopelessness.”
Trump emphasized putting America first: “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families … America will start winning again, winning like never before.”
Biden’s speech was just over 200 words longer than the average U.S. president’s inauguration speech of 2,300 words.
Of all U.S. presidents, George Washington is likely to retain the record for brevity in inaugural speeches with just 135 words. Presidents with the most and least to say:
Biden’s text also hewed toward most modern inauguration speeches, with an average of about 16 words per sentence — just slightly longer than Trump’s 2017 speech.
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, John Fritze
SOURCE USA TODAY Network reporting and research; Associated Press; whitehouse.gov