Idaho legislators react to Inaugural Address

Posted at 3:40 PM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 20:35:13-05

Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, and House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, had strong, differing opinions on President Donald Trump's Inaugural Address, Friday.

"I thought the speech the President gave was very unifying," Hill said. "I thought it was inspiring. I was excited about it."

"I actually thought the speech would be more welcoming to all Americans; it would be an idea of how he was going to move forward with policy," Erpelding said. "But to me, it seemed like a recycled campaign stump speech." 

The legislators also had differing interpretations on Trump's "America first" rhetoric. 

"I think he put it in the right context saying that other countries would have to agree with that," Hill said. "I mean, you put your own citizens and your own country first, so does that mean we're not going to worry about our allies? No. That's important that we keep those relationships."

"I think the primary focus of every President in the past, whether it be Republican George Bush or Democrat Barack Obama, was America First, but their world view was that America is a leader in the world," Erpelding said. "And I believe what President Trump is proposing is that America is going to protect itself from the world."

Erpelding said Friday's address did not change his opinion on Trump's Presidency going forward. 

"It cemented my opinion that we're going to have a lot to do at the State level," he said. "If we're really going to make a difference for every Idahoan, whether it's their education, our economy or the quality of life, that it's going to happen at the state [level] and I'm not sure we can rely on the federal government for that." 

Hill said he hopes Americans give the new President a chance. 

"We all want things to get better," Hill said. "Even if you thought they've been good for the last while, we want things to get better. We all ought to be on board with that message."