Ron Elving

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Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET

Donald Trump's first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night was the occasion for his most presidential performance to date, balancing a reprise of his angry campaign themes with a recitation of hopes and dreams for the nation.

It was his most successful, if not his first, effort at assuming the public persona and personal demeanor associated with his new office. He stuck to the script on his teleprompter, spoke graciously to individuals in the audience and refrained from attacks on critics, rivals or adversaries.

When new presidents address Congress for the first time, they can scarcely be said to be making a first impression. In recent years, even the youngest presidents have become familiar to everyone in the country via their careers, their campaigns and the constant attention of the media.

On Tuesday night, President Trump will address a joint session of the Congress for the first time, laying out his case for making the agenda of his campaign the law of the land.

He will talk about controlling immigration, cutting taxes, abolishing regulations, repealing the Affordable Care Act, pulling out of multinational trade agreements and spending more on defense and homeland security. He may also talk about his disdain for much of the news media and bring up social issues such as abortion.

Americans have complained for years about presidential campaigns that start too early and last too long.

Now, they are confronted with one that refuses to end — even after reaching the White House.

There may never be a "last word" written or spoken about President Trump's 77-minute barrage in the East Room Thursday, but the first word from many was: "Wow."

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