At Pennsylvania rally, Trump endorses himself

 In Politics

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Atlantic Aviation in Moon Township, Pa., Saturday, March 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump called NBC host Chuck Todd a “son of a bitch.” | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

The president visited western Pennsylvania to boost a struggling Republican congressional candidate—but made clear to voters that it’s all about him.


MOON TOWNSHIP, PA — President Donald Trump got business out of the way quickly Saturday night – urging voters to elect Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone, who’s locked in an unexpectedly tough special election battle in Pennsylvania – before turning to the main subject of the night: himself.

Returning to top campaign form, Trump made fun of Washington and congratulated himself for maintaining his iconoclastic style in office, despite critics who have called for him to take his job more seriously—including in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal called out by Trump. “I’m very presidential,” he said at one point, lowering his voice and standing artificially straight as he mocked usual political addresses.

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“Don’t forget, this got us elected,” he went on, relaxing into his conversational, riffy style. “If I came like a stiff, you guys wouldn’t come here tonight.”

The crowd, in an airplane hangar, cheered. One person shouted: “You’re one of us!”

Trump touted his tax reform plan, his new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and his newly announced plan to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, while slamming the news media – including calling NBC host Chuck Todd a “son of a bitch.” The president also talked about his desire to impose capital punishment on drug dealers, describing a discussion with Singapore’s president about that country’s hardline approach.

He also talked about the size of the crowd, thanking the fire marshal—a vintage campaign line—and recounted how Pennsylvania sealed his 2016 victory. He also unveiled his own new slogan for the 2020 campaign: “Keep America Great!”

“Is there anything more fun than a Trump rally?” he asked at one point.

Trump wrapped up by delivering an appeal to vote for Saccone on behalf of the Trump agenda, saying: “We need Republicans in office.”

“Go out on Tuesday and vote like crazy,” he added. He claimed he’d won the district “by, like, 22 points”—though in reality it was only 20.

“The whole world, remember that, they’re all watching,” Trump concluded. “This is a very important race.”

National and local Republicans hope Trump’s visit will help stoke enthusiasm here in the final days ahead of Tuesday’s special election. The race has drawn millions in outside spending as the GOP tries to avoid a disaster in a race that should have been an easy win—and in which a loss would be widely read as a referendum on the president.

The visit was Trump’s second, after a January appearance with Saccone by his side. Vice President Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway and Ivanka Trump have all made stops in southwestern Pennsylvania in the last month. Donald Trump Jr. is expected to headline a rally on Monday.

On Saturday, the president openly acknowledged that Saccone has had a “tough race,” adding, “look, it’s a crazy time out there.”

Trump attacked Saccone’s opponent, Democrat Conor Lamb, “Lamb the sham,” for “trying to act like a Republican,” but “as soon as he gets in, he’s not going to vote for us.”

“The president’s support is key to attaining victory on March 13,” Saccone said in a speech before the president’s arrival. “There’s no one I’d rather have in my corner than President Trump.”

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