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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

The clap back: Nancy Pelosi and women in white emerge as State of the Union highlights

The speech might have been lackluster, but social media found plenty to talk about

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Wednesday may not have contained much in the way of new policy it – or rather the real-time reactions to it on Twitter – sparked an internet buzz.

Before Mr Trump was even halfway through his 85-minute speech, Twitter was in hot debate over whether Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was giving the president a sarcastic clap or going as far as – in internet speak at least – doing a real-life clap back.

The moment came after Mr Trump made a somewhat rare call for cooperation, saying “we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution – and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.”

Whether or not her move was sarcastic or genuine, it was treading on Twitter and instantly became a meme likely to endure.

The other stand out moment was an uncharacteristic comment from Mr Trump to the numerous women who won in Novembers election.

Prising his own economic policies for the growth of jobs in the US, Mr Trump said, "No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women who have filled 58 per cent of the newly created jobs last year."

But he seemed surprised that as well as his faithful vice president, Mike Pence, many of the congresswomen in the crowd stood up to applaud the development after a few moments clear hesitation.

Pointing to them, he appeared to joke at his own expense over the large number of women who won in November. “You weren’t supposed to do that” the US President laughed before thanking and congratulating them on winning their seats.

Many of the women were dressed in all white in tribute to the women's suffrage movement to mark 100 years since US women were allowed to vote.

Twitter was flooded with images of the women in white breaking up the sea of men in dark suits on the floor of the chamber. Many celebrated the images as an illustration of how far the US had come in 100 years since women fought for the right to vote.

Democratic female members of Congress cheer after President Donald Trump said there are more women in Congress than ever before during his second State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - HP1EF2609LQ76 TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic female members of Congress cheer after President Donald Trump said there are more women in Congress than ever before during his second State of the Union address. Reuters

Despite Mr Trump’s rare reach across the aisle, Mr Trump quickly returned to his usual combative rhetoric that is often only partially arcuate at best.

Ms Pelosi tweeted attacking the speech and that it “will take days to fact-check all the misrepresentations that @realDonaldTrump made during tonight’s #StateOfTheUnion address.”

Stacey Abrams, a former candidate for Governor in Georgia, delivered the Democratic response to the president and used the moment to criticising voter suppression and government shutdowns.

“The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people but our values,” she said.

Updated: February 6, 2019 06:28 PM

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