It’s been a week of firsts for President Trump, and Thursday was no different.
Today, the mogul-turned-politician took his first trip on Marine One and Air Force One as the 45th President of the United States.
Mr Trump took the presidential helicopter to Joint Base Andrews, to ride Air Force One less than 150 miles up the beltway to the GOP’s annual policy retreat in Philadelphia.
As he ascended the stairs up into the aircraft for the first time, Mr Trump was clearly focused on the business ahead – not even stopping to turn around and wave as is usual for a departing president.
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for the very first time as the 45th President of the United States on Thursday
President Trump took his first rides on Marine One and Air Force One on Thursday to attend the GOP retreat in Philadelphia. He’s pictured above saluting as he gets off Marine One at Joint Base Andrews
Mr Trump was headed to Philadelphia for the GOP’s annual policy retreat. He’s pictured above ascending the stairs onto Air Force One
Wearing a candy-striped red tie, he gave another salute as he approached the stairs onto Air Force One
Mr Trump looked serious as he got on board Air Force One for the quick journey up to Philly
Mr Trump has previously flown on a U.S. presidential jet once previously, when he flew from New York City to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration last week.
But the aircraft he will is riding today is a different – and larger – plane. Also, a plane or helicopter can only receive the call sign of Air Force One or Marine One if the Commander in Chief is on board.
Mr Trump is set to make his comments to the GOP at the retreat around noon.
Before the flight, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and the president’s adviser, Kellyanne Conway, addressed the pool of reporters on board.
Conway told the reporters she has flown on Air Force One once before, ‘as a guest’ during the George W. Bush administration.
She said ‘it feels different this time’ – and that her comment should not be interpreted as ‘an anti-Bush statement’.
President Donald Trump took his first rides on Marine One and Air Force One on Thursday
As he ascended the stairs up into the aircraft for the first time, Mr Trump was clearly focused on the business ahead – not even stopping to turn around and wave as is usual for a departing president
It appeared windy on the tarmac on Thursday as Trump stepped out of Marine One around 11:20am
Mr Trump had a brief conversation with Col. Christopher M. Thompson, Vice Commander of the 89th Airlift Wing, before boarding Air Force ONe
Air Force One is pictured on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews before take-off on Thursday
Mr Trump was set to speak to GOP lawmakers at the retreat around noon on Thursday. Above, Air Force One takes off from Joint Base Andrews on Thursday
Despite a rocky start to his administration, many lawmakers are optimistic about delivering change in a new era of GOP control over Washington. They would like to see a Trump committed to their agenda and results, not a president who veers off course into conspiracy theories about voter fraud or who keeps litigating the size of his inaugural crowds.
Before Trump’s appearance, House Speaker Paul Ryan sketched out an ambitious agenda to lawmakers that includes sending Trump a health care repeal bill by March and a rewrite of tax laws by summer’s end.
Also in the first 200 days Congress intends to confront paying for Trump’s newly announced border wall, which Ryan confirmed could cost $8billion to $14billion, and will work on a public works bill that Trump requested be added to a crowded agenda.
The Commander in Chief saluted to a marine who was standing outside the presidential helicopter on Thursday
Marine One’s blades were turned off as Mr Trump boarded the helicopter on Thursday, so his hair stayed perfectly combed into place
The first walk across the White House lawn to board Marine One is likely a memory that Mr Trump will keep with him for the rest of his life
‘I’m just so excited we finally have a chance to do this because we have the House and the Senate and a president who is with us,’ Ryan told MSNBC on Wednesday about plans to overhaul the tax system, eliminating what critics say are loopholes and lowering corporate rates to 20 percent or even the 15 percent sought by Trump.
‘If you can clean up the cesspool of the tax code and give us a pro-growth tax code, that is how you grow the economy, that is how you take power and money out of Washington and give it back to the people,’ he said.
Lawmakers were generally enthusiastic to see Trump take quick action on immigration, oil pipelines and other issues via executive order, even though they criticized Barack Obama for overusing such administrative tools when he was president. This time, Republican lawmakers justify it by saying Trump, in many cases, is undoing what Obama did.
Yet there were signs that Congress might not easily go along with fronting the money for Trump’s border plan, which he continues to insist Mexico will ultimately pay for, though without explaining how.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, would not commit to approving the billions Trump is seeking.
‘Look, I haven’t seen cost estimates, I don’t know what exactly he’s talking about,’ Gardner told CNN on Thursday. He said making good on border security was ‘an issue of trust with the American people.’
For the GOP conference, Trump was visiting a city that he has singled out and criticized for supposed voter fraud. And the mayor has pledged to protect immigrants who are in the country illegally, in face of Trump’s crackdown on ‘sanctuary cities.’
Still, said GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, ‘People are more optimistic, the stock market’s rising, companies are deciding to build, folks look at him approving the Keystone XL pipeline. He said he wanted to create jobs. I think there’s a sense that he’s working hard to create jobs and I think that’s incredibly positive.’
As for Trump’s fixation on supposed illegal voting by 3 million to 5 million people, which is untrue, and the attendance at his inauguration: ‘Those are distractions, and it’s dwelled upon. I particularly don’t care about it,’ Cassidy said.
Most Republicans are taking Cassidy’s approach of playing down the distractions. But others said there was real concern that Trump could be the GOP’s own worst enemy at the very moment they’ve seized full control of Washington and believe they have a mandate to usher in sweeping change, starting with repealing and replacing Obama’s health care law.
Lawmakers also were to hear from Vice President Mike Pence and British Prime Minister Theresa May. Lawmakers said it was a chance to showcase the relationship with Britain in the visit from May, who vaulted to power as a result of the surprise vote to leave the European Union; many saw that as a precursor to Trump’s own victory.
Her speech was coming on the same day when Trump was expected to sign executive orders starting work on bilateral trade deals to take the place of the sweeping multilateral Asia-Pacific pact negotiated under the Obama administration, which Trump announced the U.S. is discarding.