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Mixed Reaction across the Globe to 45th U.S. president Donald Trump’s Inauguration

On Friday as Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president, and a far larger audience around the country and throughout the world witnessed the event through live broadcasts

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Hundreds of thousands of people at the National Mall in Washington looked on Friday as Donald Trump became the 45th U.S. president, and a far larger audience around the country and throughout the world witnessed the event through live broadcasts. VOA reporters talked to people around the globe who said they are looking at the transition of American power with a mix of admiration and apprehension.

Russia

In Moscow, a “Russian Army”-brand clothing store flashed Trump’s image on an electronic billboard and offered discounts to American citizens. On the streets, reactions were mixed.

“We hope that relations between our Russia and America will improve, that they’ll find a common language in relation to Syria, that they will find a common language to get rid of what is going on there,” said Lidiya Voronova, a retiree.

A young editor at a newspaper who gave his name only as Sergey said Trump “is quite a controversial president in the history of the United States, but I hope he will gain the trust of Americans.”

Trump’s inaugural address signaled a new “America first” policy for the country:

“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own,” he declared at the U.S. Capitol.

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Mexico

That attitude has unnerved some in Mexico, where the respected weekly magazine Proceso warns, “The war is coming.”

José Luis López Aguirre, a media expert at the Pan American University in Mexico City, says Trump’s use of Twitter and other social media to proclaim his views has widened divisions in America.

“He [Trump] is creating a community that is very adept at his aggressive, confrontational speech that tries to polarize American society,” Aguirre said, adding, “Because not everything he says is true.”

His university colleague, communication specialist María López Gutiérrez, has a different point of view: “I think that this possible threat of Trump has been greatly exaggerated. … We should be waiting, we are dedicated to communication, to give reality and not just the show.”

West Africa

In West Africa, VOA spoke with residents of both Nigeria and Niger, who for the most part seemed encouraged by the new administration.

Muhammad Uba Musa of Maiduguri, Nigeria, said, “Americans have so much to write about Barack Obama’s administration. We are praying for him … [and] also praying for President Donald Trump to succeed in his government.”

Alhaji Bello Musa of Birnin Konni in Niger also was hopeful: “Despite President Trump’s heated campaign in the past year … our prayers to him are that he should try to unify the world. … We also hope he’ll help Third World nations reach their potential.”

Umma Issaka of the same region in Niger was more cautious: “Donald Trump’s statement [that he may] ban Muslims from entering the country, is our major problem. … Most importantly, one cannot distinguish between Muslims and Christians; the relationship between the two has a long history, which has been since the era of the prophets. He should be very careful with his words as a leader of a great nation.”

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, Abdul Hadi Arez, a retired attorney, says he believes that Trump will face some grave challenges in foreign policy. “Over the past 30 years, Afghanistan has been torn apart in a regional proxy war,” he said, and this trend has become even more pronounced recently, “Because we see Russia, China and Iran interfering in Afghanistan against the U.S.”

Emran Khan, a student in Kabul, is “concerned that with the arrival of the new president, Afghanistan will lose the aid we receive.” He hopes the United States will not shift away from efforts to eliminate the Taliban, because “U.S. commitment is necessary for our security.”

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South Korea

“We have been hearing about [Trump’s] America First’ policies since his campaign, and his extreme attitude makes us worry about what the future holds,” said Choi Seowoo, 22, who works at a finance company in Seoul.

“However, I am hopeful — or at least I want to believe — that rather than simply abandoning the traditional U.S.-South Korea alliance, President Trump will open a new chapter in the alliance by making it into a more modern relationship that fits the ever-volatile global society and politics.”

North Korea

A 50-year-old North Korean defector who lives in Chicago, and asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, told VOA he hopes “Trump revitalizes the nation’s economy, so that people here can have a better life.”

And along with strengthening U.S. national security to protect Americans, the defector added, “he should increase pressure on Pyongyang by slapping tougher sanctions against North Korea.”

Another defector, 50-year-old Kim Chang Ho of Los Angeles, said, “There are scores of North Korean defectors who have arrived here through third countries, and they do not have legal status. … I wish the U.S. would give them a chance to settle here permanently.”

Other nations

The inauguration attracted people of many different nationalities to Washington, both visitors and those who now live here permanently.

Nem Chhoeung is a Cambodian who lives in Clayton, Georgia. He told VOA he is very happy “because in our country we rarely see this kind of event.” He felt honored and privileged to be in the U.S. capital to watch the transition from one U.S. president to another.

Sen Son, a Buddhist monk who now lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia, shared the same joyous feeling of witnessing history.

“For me, as a Buddhist monk living in this country, I am happy to be participating in this event. This does not mean that I support [Trump], but I am enjoying this inauguration.”

Yehuda Glick, a visiting Jewish rabbi who also is a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, told VOA he strongly hopes and prays — “that’s what I’m here for, to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the United States.”

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President Donald Trump Key Force In Driving The Midterms Elections

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally endorsing the Republican ticket in Erie, Pennsylvania, VOA

Three weeks before a crucial U.S. midterm election, it would be difficult to find much that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Both parties, however, seem to agree on one thing: President Donald Trump will be the key issue in elections that will determine control of Congress for the next two years.

For many voters, the “Trump factor” could be a deciding consideration in this year’s midterms. And as the president campaigns on behalf of Republicans around the country, he is quick to remind his supporters that he has a huge personal stake in the outcome on Nov. 6.

“All of this extraordinary progress is at stake,” Trump told a recent rally in Southaven, Mississippi. “I’m not on the ballot. But in a certain way, I am on the ballot. So please, go out and vote. Go out and vote.”

Motivating Democrats

As much as Trump motivates his core supporters, he also energizes critics like Jenny Heinz, who helped organize a recent anti-Trump rally in New York City.

“There is an active resistance to this president, who is operating as if he is above the law.”

No question, Trump is the central figure in this year’s election, according to American University analyst David Barker.

“Yes, Democrats from the day after the election in 2016 have been waiting for this day, and it is all about Trump,” Barker told VOA. “Trump fully embraces that. He wants it to be all about him.”

Historically, midterm elections have been a mix of local issues, local candidates, and partly a referendum on the sitting president.

This year’s campaign seems to have accelerated a trend whereby midterm congressional elections have increasingly become nationalized.

“It really is now all national, and everyone is kind of looking at this as either a referendum for or against the president and his party,” said George Washington University expert Lara Brown.

Trump
supporters of President Donald Trump, wearing Mike Braun for Congress shirts, cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. VOA

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of voters in both parties said a congressional candidate who shares their view of Trump is an important consideration as they assess the coming midterms.

Seizing the spotlight

Unlike some presidents who have tried to resist the idea that the midterms are a presidential referendum, Trump has willingly embraced it.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon told Associated Press Television that he favors the approach.

“I think if you make this a national referendum and nationalize this election on the success of President Trump’s program, it is a clear winner, and I think the Democrats get crushed.”

Others are skeptical, including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

“All right, fine. You want it to be about you? Well, every candidate on the ballot now has to account for your behavior, has to account for your tweets,” said Steele, a recent guest on VOA’s Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren.

Climate Change, Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

Trump hopes to boost Republican turnout in November; but, Democrats argue he is likely to be just as effective in spurring their voters to the polls.

Maryland Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger also spoke on Plugged In.

“When all you do is care about yourself and not about people, not about what they need – like your seniors needing medical care. And you just want to look good and knock them out (politically), which is happening, this is hurting. And this is why, I think, a lot of people will come out (to vote).”

Tending the base

Trump has been aggressive on the campaign trail courting his base, especially in Republican-leaning states where many of this year’s closer Senate races are taking place.

“They are focusing on their base, and they are trying to make sure that they are going to show up and vote. And it could make some difference in close midterm elections,” said University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato.

Trump, USA
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, . VOA

Some Republicans have urged Trump to try and broaden his appeal beyond his base during campaign visits this year.

But Gallup pollster Frank Newport said the president has limited options.

Also Read: Obama On Why Its Important To Vote In This Midterm Elections

“He has kind of given up on attempting to broaden his appeal, it looks like. It fits more with his style,” said Newport. “He has, as we all know, a very combative style. He likes to have enemies because that gives him somebody to fight against. So, it would be hard for a president like Trump anyway to try and broaden his appeal.”

Trump’s name will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballots, but, he will clearly be front and center in the minds of voters, and the midterm results could determine the future of his presidency. (VOA)