ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump mostly sang the hits with familiar themes Thursday night during his second re-election rally, but he sprinkled in plenty of eyebrow-raising lines and claims.
Trump took an early victory lap over Attorney General William P. Barr earlier this week concluding Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III failed to find criminal-level collaboration between his 2016 campaign and Russians. And he again twisted the facts by saying Mueller’s report, according to Barr, gave him “total exoneration” on obstruction of justice; Barr reported the special counsel found evidence on both sides of the obstruction argument.
From there, he made his usual boasts about the state of the economy and conjured more than one “lock her up!” chant when he mentioned Hillary Clinton and declared “walls work” when making yet another pitch for his proposed southern border wall.
And he again used some colorful language when discussing Democrats and Mueller’s probe — even though it was his hand-picked first attorney general and a longtime conservative senator, Jeff Sessions, who brought the former FBI director in to lead the investigation.
Watch: Republicans call for Schiff to step down as Intel chairman during committee hearing
Cursing and all, here are a handful of colorful moments from Trump’s Grand Rapids rally.
“The Democrats have to now decide whether they will continue defrauding the public with ridiculous bulls--t, partisan investigations or whether they will apologize to the American people and join us to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and bring down the cost of health care and prescription drugs.”
Trump’s linking of Democrats to the Mueller probe is complicated, but his underlying point is not inaccurate. That’s because the genesis of the Justice Department and intelligence community examining possible coordination between his 2016 campaign and Russia began with the Obama administration.
“The mass illegal immigration across the border is a direct consequence of Democrat-supported loopholes, Democrat promises of amnesty — amnesty. You have people coming up, you know they’re all met by the lawyers. … And they say say the following phrase. … ‘I am very afraid for my life, I am afraid for my life.’ … It's a big fat con job. It’s a big fat con job.”
Note the repetition, which Trump uses when communicating with his base to drive home his points. Notably, however, on Jan. 20, he signaled support in a tweet for amnesty for hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants who came to United States as children. The notion rankles conservative opinion-shapers that are influential among his base.
“But while we're pushing and pursuing all of these common sense policies to advance the common good for our citizens, Democrats are pushing a cynical and destructive agenda of radicalism, resistance, resist. Resist and revenge.”
Both parties have been guilty of pushing legislation they know the other opposes. But Trump tried to repeal the 2010 health law with only GOP votes.
His 2017 tax law got nary a Democratic vote. And he has yet to present an infrastructure or immigration plan that Democrats would support. But his comments blur a reality: A healthy amount of bipartisan legislation passed both chambers last year that he signed into law — sometimes with Democratic members standing in the frame as he put pen to paper.
“The Democrats are now advancing an extreme $100 trillion government takeover called the Green New Deal. But I'd rather not talk about it tonight because I don't want to talk them out of it too soon because I love campaigning against the Green New Deal. … I want them to make that a big part of their platform — no more airplanes, no more cows, one car per family. One car!”
The president is eager to make freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a self-described democratic-socialist, the face of the Democratic Party.
Her party refutes his characterization of the cost and implications of the proposed green plan - but Trump is going to use it to paint the party as a bunch of socialists. Are Democrats nervous? Yes. Just consider how many Democratic senators sidestepped going on the record on the plan during a floor vote this week.
“I attacked so violently, Pocahontas. And I knocked her out of the race. … What did I do that for? It's too early. … We’ve got plenty more to knock out you're right.”
The president rarely misses a chance at a campaign rally to drop his derisive nickname for Elizabeth Warren, the progressive Massachusetts senator and 2020 White House candidate. Trump went hard at her over her apology about claims to be of Native American heritage. She’s still in the race, however, despite his baseless claim.
“Now you have a president who is loyal to you. … The Democrats took the people of Michigan for granted [in 2016], but with us you will never ever be forgotten again. You will never be taken for granted. Ever ever ever.”
There’s a reason he made his second official 2020 campaign stop in Grand Rapids.
His aides don’t dismiss the notion that he likely will need to retain one or both of the upper Midwest states he won last time (Michigan and Wisconsin) to secure a second term. But Democrats have vowed they won’t repeat Clinton’s many mistake there.