What Davos thought of Trump's speech

How did Davos respond to President Trump's much-anticipated speech?The American president was by far the hotte...

Posted: Jan 26, 2018 5:54 PM
Updated: Jan 26, 2018 5:54 PM

How did Davos respond to President Trump's much-anticipated speech?

The American president was by far the hottest ticket at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a mecca for central bankers, government officials and chief executives.

Attendees flocked to see the speech, which began with a musical performance and warm greeting from organizer Klaus Schwab. Trump spoke to a packed conference hall on Friday, and more attendees watched on screens in three overflow rooms.

And the reviews?

The consensus was that Trump had tailored his "America First" message to the Davos crowd, and toned down his populist rhetoric.

"Certainly he was very successful in presenting his successes," said Stephan Gemkow, chairman of the investment firm Haniel.

"The speech had a very strong domestic focus," he added. "I would have wished to hear more about international, multilateral aspects."

Related: Trump would consider 'substantially better' TPP deal

Kristian Jensen, the Danish finance minister, said the speech could have been more forward -- and outward -- looking.

"It was a speech about what he has done," he said. "I would have liked to hear more about how he will renew international cooperation. I miss America on the international scene."

Staunch Trump critics were not swayed.

"It was very much what I expected," said Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. "They kept it short, because he has a hard time keeping on script."

Other attendees suggested that Trump, who focused largely on issues related to trade and the economy, could have done more to address the theme of this year's conference, which is "creating a shared future in a fractured world."

"It was just all about money. It's almost making me cry," said Pippa Small, a designer from the U.K. "There were so many issues omitted, climate change being obviously a huge one."

Related: What Davos is talking about

Deriding the "nasty, mean, and fake" news media, Trump drew boos and hisses from the crowd.

Steve Howard, co-chair of the We Mean Business coalition against climate change, estimated that 20% to 30% of attendees applauded Trump at the end of the speech.

"The rest of them just sat on their hands," he said.

The mood was less polite in the overflow rooms, where some attendees openly chuckled when Trump took the stage backed by a marching band.

Related: Why are women still missing at Davos?

Other world leaders who spoke in Davos, including Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron, did not have a musical entrance.

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