Speed Reads

Graduation Day

Trump at Liberty University commencement: 'Did we dare to defy expectations? ... I think I did'

President Trump spoke at Liberty University's 2017 commencement ceremony Saturday after accepting an honorary doctorate of law degree from the school's president, Jerry Falwell, Jr. "There is no place in the world I'd rather be to give my first commencement address as president," Trump said at the opening of his address, reminiscing about his election victory, congratulating the graduating class, and offering special tributes to mothers and military service members in the crowd.

The talk offered typical commencement aphorisms mixed with uniquely Trumpian sentiments of nationalism and defiance. "With all the blessings you've been given, what will you give back to this country, and to the world?" Trump asked, imagining the perspective of future generations. "Did we take risks? Did we dare to defy expectations? Did we challenge accepted wisdom and take on established systems? I think I did, but we all did, and we're all doing it."

Midway through the speech, Trump took an extensive detour to discuss Liberty's ascension to the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the top level of college football. He read through a list of teams the Liberty Flames will play in their upcoming season, jokingly expressing his concern that the team would not be good enough to beat such elite competition.

Trump took swipes at his Washington opponents, too, telling attendees that following their "convictions means you will face criticism from those who lack the same courage" to do the right thing. "It's called the road less traveled," Trump said, later adding, "Nothing is easier and more pathetic than being a critic."

Watch the full speech live below. Bonnie Kristian