CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A jubilant President Trump recapped some of his campaign’s greatest hits, offered some new policy ideas and offered some blatant misstatements during a marathon rally Wednesday night in Iowa.
“We’re not even campaigning and look at this crowd,” said Trump during a rally organized by his 2020 campaign in a near-capacity U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids. Trump spoke for 70 minutes in front of an exuberant crowd in his first trip west of the Mississippi as president. He stood atop signs saying “Promises Made” and “Promises Kept,”
During his speech, Trump verified reports that he was unhappy with the health care plan that passed the House, saying that he told lawmakers to “throw money” at health care to come up a plan with “heart.” He made a brief plea for bipartisanship, saying that Democrats wouldn’t vote yes even if Republicans came up with a plan that offered the best health care for free, but if the parties worked together they could get “really, really great legislation” passed. He also confirmed a report from earlier this month that he was considering a “solar wall” along the border with Mexico, generating electricity to offset the cost–which would still be borne by Mexico, Trump insisted.
The president also said he would change the law so that immigrants could not receive welfare benefits until they had been in the country for five years. That has been the United States’ policy since 1996.
As Trump got further into the evening he began to riff more, veering off script and deviating from the truth in the process. He said the Keystone Pipeline would bring 38,000 jobs to the United States, when the actual number of permanent jobs is closer to 35. He said Republicans had gone 5-0 in special elections and specifically mentioned California, a race where the runoff election was between two Democrats. (Of contested races between Democrats and Republicans, the president’s party has won all four, although by unexpectedly small margins compared to 2016 results in the same districts.) He said America was the highest taxed nation in the world, when depending on the metric used it falls between 17th and 31st.
Trump revisited many of his touchstones from the campaign, and attendees seemed happy to indulge in the memories. Chants of “Build that wall” broke out multiple times during the speech, and the crowd obediently booed mentions of NAFTA and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A mention of Hillary Clinton’s campaign ads brought out enthusiastic chants of “Lock Her Up.” Regarding his own potential legal problems, Trump did not directly mention special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia and the Republican campaign, but he did decry the “phony witch hunt” that he said was targeting him. Apropos of something apparent only to him, Trump also asked “What the hell is going on in Chicago?”, a common refrain from the trail. He brought up his campaign announcement from June 2015 and how much people enjoyed the long escalator ride he took at Trump Tower. [/restrict]