House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is making it clear her applause for President Donald Trump during his Tuesday State of the Union address wasn’t meant in a “sarcastic” manner after a viral photo of the moment turned into a resistance meme.
“It wasn’t sarcastic,” Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday, according to People. “Look at what I was applauding. I wanted him to know that it was very welcomed.”
The speaker’s clap came just as Trump asked America to abandon “politics of revenge.” Some who felt the call was counter to the president’s personal behavior appeared to jump to conclusions about Pelosi’s reaction, believing it was intended to be condescending.
(Doug Mills/Pool via Reuters) pic.twitter.com/D8dmT5Z95A
— Colin Campbell (@colincampbell) February 6, 2019
As IJR Blue previously reported, Pelosi received an outpouring of praise from people on the left as the photo circulated on social media. Many saw her applause as a pointed clap at — not for — the president, even calling it the “perfect amount of petty we all should aspire to have.”
According to Pelosi, however, it was an innocent and bipartisan gesture.
New York Times photographer Doug Mills, who captured the viral moment, also believes her clap to be genuine.
“I had a unique angle and was able to put Speaker Pelosi right over the president’s shoulder,” he said. “It was a clap that was gestured right toward him. And he looked back to get her reaction. It’s not a moment you usually see in the middle of a State of the Union address. There’s not usually a lot of interaction between the president and the speaker.”
Watch the moment in action:
— Brian Koerber (@bkurbs) February 6, 2019
“She was making sure he saw her applauding,” Mills added. “She was saying, ‘You set the tone. Now let’s follow through and let’s do this.'”
While Pelosi and other Democrats did still criticize elements of the president’s address, it was well-received by Republicans and most viewers, with the approval rating from those watching at home reaching 76 percent.