Trump: “If I came like a stiff, you guys wouldn’t come here tonight”

Developments on Day 415 of the Trump Administration:

Trump Cuts Loose in 75-Minute Speech

Under pressure on multiple fronts in a White House described by some of his staff as “chaos”, Donald Trump tries to rally support in a rambling, 75-minute speech near Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

Ostensibly, Trump was speaking to boost Republican candidate Rick Saccone for Tuesday’s special election for a House of Representatives seat, in an area where Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 20% in 2016.

But Trump’s main goal was to promote his leadership, pushing back critics of his approach and policies and keeping the Russia investigation at bay.

He began by touting his snap decision for tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, which has unsettled America allies and businesses, with the acknowledgement that many of his “friends on Wall Street” don’t like it and the unsupported claim that “many” steel companies are already expanding in the wake of the order, signed on Thursday.

Then he pushed his shifting position on North Korea. Without explaining his impromptu acceptance of an opening for face-to-face talks with Kim Jong-Un, he extolled his leadership by asserting that — in the previously unreported words of South Korean President Moon Jae-In, he had “saved the Olympics” last month.

Having threatened a military confrontation last year, Trump now said of North Korea, “I think they want to make peace”. And, days after targeting China — with false information — to justify the tariffs, he said the country has done “great things” for the US.

Then there were a series of often-unconnected, often-false statements and insults to whip up the crowd. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, ans George W. Bush were mocked. The standard assault on “fake media” was peppered with an attack on CNN and an insult of NBC correspondent Chuck Todd as a “sleeping son of a bitch”. Democratic Representative Maxine Waters was labelled a “very low IQ individual”, and he invoked his derogatory tag of Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas”. He warned Oprah Winfrey that a 2020 Presidential campaign “would be a painful experience for her”.

He praised his reality TV career on The Apprentice, and in remarks highlighting his disregard for due process of law, he spoke with admiration of other countries imposing the death penalty on drug dealers and hailed police officers grabbing gang members “by the neck”.

Comfortable in his defiance after weeks of difficult headlines, Trump mocked the idea that he should be “Presidential”: “If I came like a stiff, you guys wouldn’t come here tonight.”

He also referred back to his comment last weekend that maybe he should consider being “President for Life”, although he added, “I was joking! Fake News!”