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Story highlights

A historian who met with Donald Trump said the President-elect wants to pen his speech himself

"He told me he's excited to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom on his first night," Douglas Brinkley said

(CNN) —  

President-elect Donald Trump is turning his attention Thursday to crafting a “short” but impactful inaugural address designed not to overly burden the thousands of supporters expected to attend next month’s ceremony.

“He wants to write the inaugural himself,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who met with Trump Wednesday to discuss, among other things, the upcoming speech on January 20th.

Trump was expected to spend at least part of his day Thursday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, working on the speech, according to officials.

“He doesn’t want it to be long,” Brinkley said on CNN. “He would like it to be a shorter one. He doesn’t want people standing out in the cold.”

Trump, who initially chafed at the rigid formality of delivering speeches from a Teleprompter, is mindful of the inaugural’s role in setting the tone for his upcoming administration, officials say. Until now, his highest-profile speech came at this summer’s Republican National Convention. That address was darker in tone, warning of a deteriorating society and touting his ability to fix the country’s problems.

Earlier this week, Trump’s transition said the President-elect would rely on Stephen Miller, a policy aide who crafted his convention speech, to work on the inaugural address. Brinkley said Trump on Wednesday was intent on drafting the entirety of the speech himself, with input from his team.

Presidents and Presidents-elect typically work jointly with speechwriters to piece together major sets of remarks.

The topics are said to include the education system, infrastructure, border security, the state of the military, the economy and the outsourcing of jobs.

Boris Epshteyn, a spokesman for Trump’s inauguration committee, previewed a more optimistic address from Trump and Miller than what was delivered at this summer’s convention.

“They will be talking about uniting America, bringing American together. We are now in the post-politics, post-campaign season and that’s the messaging around this inaugural,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “I’m expecting a great address … that talks to Americans about dreaming big, about making sure that we are a city on a hill one more time.”

Brinkley said Trump recognized the importance of the speech and, more importantly, recognized that it would be a major ratings draw.

“You know, we’ve had high ratings for the debates,” he said. “I think he’s starting to get in the zone that we’re looking at how this inaugural is going to be watched, and he’s going to put a lot of effort into it.”

Past inaugural speeches have drawn millions of viewers, though fewer than watched this year’s presidential debates between Trump and rival Hillary Clinton. In 2009, 37.7 million viewers tuned in for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. Four years later, 20.5 million people watched.

Those numbers are dwarfed, however, by interest in this year’s contest. In September, 84 million people tuned in to the first general election debate.

As he was departing Mar-a-Lago Wednesday, Brinkley said Trump and he had discussed a few earlier inaugurals in a historical context, including Richard Nixon’s, Ronald Reagan’s and John F. Kennedy’s.

They also talked about William Henry Harrison, the President who was rumored to have caught a cold during a lengthy inauguration speech that turned into pneumonia (history shows he actually caught the cold a few weeks later).

Brinkley said the history of Trump’s position was plainly enlivening for the President-elect.

“He told me he’s excited to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom on his first night,” Brinkley said.