Less than two months from Election Day, President Donald Trump on Thursday night stepped up his rhetoric about Social Security and other federal benefit programs by warning Democrats want to “destroy” them.
The president had not focused on the federal retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits program at previous political rallies. But as the midterm elections near, he debuted some new — and sharp — lines at a rally in Billings, Montana.
He accused Democrats of wanting to “turn America into Venezuela,” which plunged into an ongoing economic and political crisis stemming from unsustainable social programs launched by Hugo Chavez’s government. “I don’t think so.”
And Trump alleged that Democrats’ real plan is to “steal” and “rob” and “raid” Social Security to finance a grand social benefits program. Returning to the hardline immigration talk of his 2016 presidential campaign, the president charged that that alleged thievery would take money from American citizens and put it in the pockets of undocumented migrants who are in the country illegally.
He told the audience Democrats want to “destroy your Social Security,” and painted himself as the one GOP politician who can safeguard it.
“I’m going to save your Social Security,” he roared. “We’re not touching your Social Security.”
The president seems to know older Americans, especially Republicans, vote with regularity — including in midterm elections when other parts of the electorate stay home.
And he told the crowd — and those watching on television, especially Fox News, popular with his conservative base — to flash back to the last presidential race. “Remember what I said: growth, growth will take care of it,” he said, meaning economic growth would keep Social Security solvent.
Trump also used strong rhetoric during several off-the-cuff rants about an anonymous New York Times op-ed that sharply criticized his presidency and the newspaper that published it. He blamed the piece on a “deep state mob” and its “allies in the media.”
The president screamed in mocking tones, “We will impeach him!” It was his way of demeaning House Democrats and trying to portray them as unhinged.
“You aren’t voting for a candidate, you’re voting for which party controls Congress. It’s a very important thing,” Trump told the crowd. “They like to use the impeach word. ‘Impeach Trump!’”
“‘But he hasn’t done anything wrong,’” he said, portraying an imagined conversation between Democratic lawmakers. “‘Doesn’t matter. We will impeach him!’”
In another new campaign trail line, he delivered a challenge to his supporters and Republican voters.
“It’s your fault” if impeachment proceedings begin “because you didn’t go out to vote.”
“You didn’t go out to vote,” he said. “That’s the only way it could happen.”