- President Donald Trump held a “Make America Great Again” campaign-style rally in Washington, Michigan on Saturday night.
- He scheduled it to skip the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner in D.C.
- At the raucous rally, Trump railed against the media, former FBI director James Comey, trade deals, and his political enemies.
Saturday night, President Donald Trump hosted a raucous rally in Washington Township, Michigan to escape the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington, D.C. – and his loyal supporters who turned out couldn’t have been happier.
Trump won the Detroit suburb with 54% of the vote, and the loud crowd of 6,000 interrupted him many times during the 90-minute rally. They booed his enemies and cheered his “America-first” policies, including wanting to build more cars in Michigan.
When Trump mentioned the peace talks between South and North Korea, the crowd started chanting, “Nobel!” referring to the Nobel Peace Prize.
He said the upcoming meeting between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could happen in “the next three or four weeks.” “It’s going be a very important meeting, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he added.
Reiterating what he tweeted Saturday morning, Trump said the Secret Service told him the allegations against White House Dr. Ronny Jackson were untrue.
Trump had nominated Jackson to be his new secretary of veterans’ affairs, but Jackson withdrew from consideration this week after a slew of misconduct allegations came to light, ranging from accusations of handing out sleeping pills and opioids too freely to getting drunk on the job.
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a Democrat and ranking chair on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, revealed some of the allegations against Jackson this week, saying nearly two dozen sources had come forward ahead of the rear admiral’s confirmation hearings.
“Well I know things about Tester that I could say, too,” Trump said cryptically. “And if I said them, he’d never be elected again.”
Trump plays the hits
Railing against the “fake news” and their “fake sources” elicited a huge “boo” from the rowdy crowd, as did mentioning former FBI Director James Comey.
“He’s a liar and a leaker. I did you a great favour when I fired this guy,” Trump said of Comey, calling the leadership and “corruption” at the FBI a “disgrace.”
Trump also thanked House Republicans for releasing the House Intelligence Committee’s final report on the Russia investigation, which concluded there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. House Democrats disagree with that assessment.
When Trump brought up German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited the White House on Friday, the crowd started to boo.
“No, don’t blame them,” Trump said. “It will all be fine. … Blame your American presidents, and your American representatives.”
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is up for reelection this year, and Trump mentioned her by name as someone he thinks should shoulder part of the blame for “failed” and “unfair” trade deals.
Trump hit many of his favourite topics, including the might of the American military. The commander in chief decried Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons, for which Trump ordered a missile strike with US allies in retaliation.
“We have the greatest military in the world,” he said. Look at what happened in Syria – boom, boom, bing!”
A free-wheeling rally
While there was a teleprompter and Trump stuck to a rough script, the rally was largely in the free-wheeling style evocative of the speeches he held during the 2016 campaign.
“Any Hispanics in the room?” Trump asked, to tepid applause. “Not too many? Eh, that’s all right. … In all fairness, Kanye West gets it.”
Trump even invited his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, onto the stage to say a few words.
‘This is Trump country!” Lewandowski shouted. “We love Michigan! Thank you for supporting Donald J. Trump as your next president of the United States!”
Also during the rally, an attendee seemed to fall ill, and Trump paused his speech, calling for a doctor. When the situation was under control, the crowd cheered, and he continued. Doors to the event opened three hours before the president was scheduled to speak, and attendees typically have to stand the entire time.
Perhaps catering to their viewers’ wishes, Fox News broadcast the rally live – with a brief interruption because of problems with the satellite feed – while CNN covered the red carpet and main event at the Correspondents’ Dinner all night.
Trump asked the crowd if the rally was better and “more fun” than the dinner, and they cheered in response.