For a president beset by multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia and escalating tensions with his own attorney general, Donald Trump was decidedly upbeat at a Tuesday rally that seemed designed to recapture his campaign-era swagger.
“With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office,” Trump declared before a mostly adoring crowd in Youngstown, Ohio.
The rally was a 2020 campaign event, and the president returned to the themes that powered his 2016 candidacy, at points bashing the news media, talking tough on immigration, slamming the Affordable Care Act and lauding the superiority of American-made products and labor as key to an infrastructure renaissance.
Trump briefly celebrated Tuesday’s procedural Senate vote that will allow debate to proceed on the Republican health care bill, saying, “We’re now one step closer to liberating our citizens from this Obamacare nightmare and delivering great health care for the American people.” Predictably, he barbed Senate Democrats, who he branded “obstructionists,” for voting in unison against the measure.
The bulk of the rally was spent on what might be termed Trump’s greatest hits — being tougher on immigration, building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, fighting “radical Islamic terrorism” and boosting coal industry jobs. He praised a Tuesday announcement by the Department of Justice promising to clamp down on grants to so-called “sanctuary cities” that don’t follow federal immigration law.
“They’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15 and others, and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die, and these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long,” Trump said of gangs that supposedly benefit from the policies of sanctuary cities.
Furthermore, Trump assured the crowd of his administration’s deportations, “We’re not doing it in a politically correct fashion.”
Despite the praise of his department, there was no mention of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been under fire for the past week as Trump has repeatedly hammered him over his decision to recuse himself from any Trump campaign-related investigations.
Trump, basking in cheers, also left behind the disruption of White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s Friday resignation after Anthony Scaramucci was appointed communications director. Spicer reportedly opposed Scaramucci’s hiring.
In a Tuesday interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump also similarly downplayed the personnel changes in the West Wing, quipping that any turmoil was because “they’re fighting over who loves me most.”
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