Cody Keenan, a former Barack Obama speechwriter who wrote the 58-year-old politician’s State of the Union Addresses while president, appeared on MSNBC’s 11th Hour after Donald Trump’s Tuesday address and revealed his thoughts. According to Keenan, Trump’s speech did a great job of showcasing Obama’s economic record, Newsweek reports.
During Trump’s address, he touted the United States’ economy, pointing to declines in poverty, increases in incomes, and a boom of jobs, among other things. He also suggested that his success was a result of addressing and reversing the “failed economic policies” of the Obama administration, which began as the country was still reeling from the global financial crisis.
In response, Keenan pushed back on Trump’s claims, suggesting that Obama laid the foundation of the current economy during his presidency.
“Tonight’s [speech] basically started out as a fact sheet that was bereft of facts [then] went into the gifts for all the voters he wants this year,” Keenan said. “And then [Trump’s speeches] have this tendency at the end of [a] speech to just Google a bunch of historical things that happened in America and try to string them together. As a speechwriter, I’m in mourning for what I saw tonight.
He added that the first 10 minutes of Trump’s speech was “actually a really good case” for Obama’s economy.
Exclusive Ogilvy Interview with @BarackObama's Speechwriter@CodyKeenan worked with Barack Obama and his administration on a staggering 3500 speeches, including many of his most famous, and still works closely with him today.#OgilvyInterview pic.twitter.com/As49TOE1Ve
— Ogilvy (@Ogilvy) January 4, 2018
Obama’s former Director of Speechwriting, Jonathan Favreau, also reacted to the address, although he focused instead on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to tear up Trump’s speech after he concluded. Favreau said Pelosi’s move was a “page out of Trump’s playbook” and effectively “stole the spotlight away.”
Pelosi was critical of Trump’s address in part for his failure to provide a positive health care message. According to Pelosi, Democrats were told such a message would be present in the address.
The 79-year-old politician also attacked the “manifesto of mistruths” allegedly contained in Trump’s address and said the American people deserve a president with “integrity and respect for the aspirations for their children.”
Aside from touting his accomplishments over his predecessor, Trump’s address also explored the burden of war and its effects on military families. After his remarks, he spoke to Amy Williams — a North Carolina mom — and her kids, who were surprised by father and husband Sergeant Townsend Williams, who had returned early from deployment.
Trump also presented conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The president’s plan to present the award leaked earlier after Trump met with network anchors during a private White House lunch preceding the address.