Trump Addresses Inaugural Concert Crowd: "You're Not Forgotten Anymore"
On the eve of his inauguration, Trump (falsely) declared such a concert never had been done before.
President-elect Donald Trump addressed the crowd on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the night before his official inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.
"It's a movement like we've never seen anywhere in the world," Trump declared at a celebratory Lincoln Memorial concert on the eve of his inauguration. To his unwavering supporters who were with him from the start, he promised: "You're not forgotten anymore. You're not forgotten anymore."
Trump began taking on more trappings of the presidency, giving a salute to the Air Force officer who welcomed him as he stepped off a U.S. jet with wife Melania at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington. Later, he placed a ceremonial wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.
At a luncheon in a ballroom at his own hotel, he gave a shout-out to Republican congressional leaders, declaring: "I just want to let the world know we're doing very well together." House Speaker Paul Ryan, he said, finally will have someone to sign legislation into law. Then Trump veered into the territory of the unknowable to boast his Cabinet selections had "by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever."
Just blocks away, the White House was emptying out quickly. President Barack Obama had his final weekly lunch with Vice President Joe Biden and got in a few final official acts, cutting the sentences of 330 inmates and placing a call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Trump's public schedule for the inaugural celebration began at Arlington, where he and Pence stood at attention as a bugler played taps at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Trump's wife, children and grandchildren silently looked on.
With that solemn moment, "the rhetoric of a campaign moves aside," Tom Barrack, the head of Trump's inaugural committee, told CNN. "I think you're going to see a shift from candidate to world leader. I think he's feeling the weight of it."
From there, Trump shuttled to a celebratory welcome concert on the steps of Lincoln Memorial that ended with fireworks filling the evening sky.
The concert, open to the public, offered headliners including country star Toby Keith, soul's Sam Moore and rockers 3 Doors Down. But not singer Jennifer Holliday: She backed out after an outcry from Trump critics.
"This is some day, dear friends," actor Jon Voight told the crowd, casting Trump's impending inauguration as evidence of divine intervention after "a parade of propaganda that left us all breathless with anticipation, not knowing if God could reverse all the negative lies against Mr. Trump."
The crowd sent up a cheer when the giant screens flashed video of Trump singing along as Lee Greenwood delivered his signature "God Bless the U.S. A."
Trump declared such a concert had never been done before. In fact, a number of past presidents have staged inaugural concerts among the monuments.
Ebullient Trump fans were ready for a three-day party. "We're hoping for good weather and hoping for some unity," said Jon-Paul Oldham, a firefighter who came from Thomaston, Conn. He said everyone should want Trump to succeed. "Wanting him to fail is like wanting the plane to crash but you're on the plane," said Oldham.
New York Republicans smushed into a downtown hotel ballroom to hear former House Speaker Newt Gingrich size up what he promised would be "a remarkable couple of days."
"Certainly this is the inauguration that no one in the news media was ready for," said Gingrich. It does appear it may rain on Trump's parade, though. With rain in the forecast, the National Park Service announced that it was easing its "no umbrella" policy for Friday, allowing collapsible umbrellas along the parade route and on the National Mall.