White House

‘Renovation, what’s that all about?’ Trump asks about burning Notre Dame

Highlights of president’s most-eyebrow raising lines at economic roundtable in Minnesota

President Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally last month in Grand Rapids, Mich. On Monday, he was in another Upper Midwest state, Minnesota. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump lingered on Air Force One in Minnesota on Monday, later telling workers at Nuss Truck and Equipment in Burnsville that he and others were watching coverage of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris engulfed in flames.

Trump said he had been briefed on the blaze, adding that it looked like “one of the great treasures of the world” was “burning to the ground. … That puts a damper on what we are about to say.”

[Trump’s double backtrack ‘probably won’t matter very much’]

He soon got down to business, saying thousands of Minnesotans have “seen an annual income gain of $1,700 since my election. … It’s been pretty amazing.”

The president narrowly lost the Gopher State in 2016, and he’s identified it as an early target in his re-election bid.

Trump on Notre Dame flames: ‘A terrible sight to behold’

Here is a grab-bag of Trump’s most memorable lines Monday from what was an official White House event.

“Renovation, what’s that all about? … But it’s a terrible scene.”

Even the president’s critics would agree with the latter statement as U.S. news outlets showed images of the building structure with orange flames shooting into the air for hours. But on the former, Trump will likely face criticism yet again. The cathedral was undergoing repairs over concerns that cracks could cause all or part of it to collapse.

“This has been a special state. … And we almost won it. One more speech. One more speech.”

Hillary Clinton lost nearby Michigan and Wisconsin, but won Minnesota by 1.5 points in 2016. Trump made no secret Monday that he wants to take it next year as he eyes another path to 270 Electoral College votes. His comment also amounted to a warning to the eventual Democratic nominee, suggesting he plans to spend more time in Minnesota than he did during his first campaign.

“We’re already starting to think about our next election. … We’ve raised far more money than anybody.”

See above. The 2020 race is never far from the president’s mind. Expect him to hold many official and campaign events in Minnesota and other Upper Midwest states between now and Election Day.

[This mysterious 2012 super PAC donor may finally be revealed]

“The Cabinet is the Cabinet. And it’s pretty good.”

If confirmed, Jovita Carranza, his nominee to lead the Small Business Administration, will be part of his Cabinet, the president announced. She’s the current U.S. treasurer and would replace sports entertainment executive Linda McMahon. Trump said it took him about a “second” to decide to elevate Carranza to a Cabinet that is increasingly stocked with acting department and agency heads. That dynamic has frustrated even some GOP senators, but the president has extolled it because it gives him flexibility.

“I’ve been on many a truck. … The Fifth Avenue stuff doesn’t play nearly as well.”

Trump knows his path to the White House in 2016 really was paved by blue-collar voters in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and a few others.

Political strategists of all stripes say he will need that group — potentially even more — to win a second term, as several polls show him trailing candidates expected to do well with those voters in hypothetical general election races.

“It can all go away very quickly. You put the wrong people in office.” 

The president warned voters that any economic benefit they have felt from his policies, such as the 2017 GOP tax law, would be undone by a Democratic president. That, of course, depends on several factors, such as the makeup of Congress and economic trends the president has little-to-no influence over. But it was a warning nevertheless.

Also watch: Banging gravel, pseudoscience and texts from mom — Congressional Hits and Misses

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