In his first speech to the world’s leaders, President Donald Trump delivered the message of the voters who elected him.
“The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies,” Trump said Tuesday. “But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return.”
It was a blistering call to action, as Trump urged other nations to do more, much more, to confront what he called the “wicked few” — the “band of criminals” in North Korea, the “murderous regime” of Iran and the “loser terrorists,” among others.
There was no talk of nation-building or deploying the U.S. military to create and sustain democracies.
“In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but, rather, to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch,” he said.
Trump dubbed his philosophy “principled realism” but for those who elected him it was the essence of “America First,” the same nationalist theme he espoused on the campaign trail that led to his victory.
Richard Viguerie, a longtime leader in the conservative movement and a self-described Trumper, said he had worried that Trump would change after some aides who guided Trump’s rhetoric on foreign affairs, including top strategist Steve Bannon and policy adviser Sebastian Gorka, departed the White House. But on Tuesday, he said he realized he had nothing to worry about. “He’s still very much consistent with his campaign,” Viguerie said. “He’s still singing that song.”
Michael Glassner, executive director of Trump’s re-election campaign, quickly sought to use the speech to rally Trump’s base through an email. “Trump supporters around the country should take pride in President Trump’s strong and principled speech before the world’s leaders at the United Nations today where he expressed profound and unwavering America First principles,” he said.
Trump called for “a great reawakening” where nations put their own citizens first as they work to create a coalition of independent and sovereign nations to confront shared dangers. To underscore his point, he used the word sovereign or sovereignty 21 times.
“As president of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first,” he said.