White House

Trump targets 2020 Democrats as energy speech turns into campaign stop

A six-pack of eyebrow-raising POTUS quotes, just in time for happy hour

President Donald Trump turned an event in Louisiana into a chance to knock several potential 2020 rivals. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | President Donald Trump went to Louisiana to talk about his energy policies, but as frequently happens, an official White House event at times sounded a lot like a campaign stump speech.

Trump used parts of his speech to describe a booming economy with low unemployment — weeks after acknowledging to reporters he intends to run on the state of the economy. Of course, Trump did not bring up his trade “squabble” with China, which Democratic lawmakers and economists warn could help spawn an economic slowdown just as he revs up his reelection bid.

The president won Louisiana by nearly 20 percentage points over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (58.1 percent to 38.4 percent) in 2016. But that comfortable margin did not stop Trump from promising the citizens in the Hackberry area a little gift if they help him win a second term.

“If we win this election, which is only 16 months away, we’re giving you a brand new I-10 bridge,” he said to loud applause. “I didn’t know it was going to be that popular,” he quipped as the cheers died down.

“We’re going to start planning and development,” he said before barely hiding the ask. “And we’ll have it all set to go on Day 1 after the election.”

[Trump downplays China trade ‘squabble,’ rattles sabre at Iran]

Pretty blunt stuff — even by Trump’s unprecedented standards. Here are a six-pack of quotes from the president’s trip to Louisiana that had a 2020 campaign flavor.

“Beto is falling fast. What the hell happened to him? A few weeks ago, he said ‘I was built for this.’” 

The former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, started fast out of the gate when he announced his White House bid, riding momentum from giving GOP Sen. Ted Cruz a scare in November’s midterm. Since then, O’Rourke has plummeted to the low single digits in polls. But Trump knows his youthful energy could make him a mix of 2008 Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, 1992’s self-described “Comeback Kid.”

“I don’t know what the hell happened to Biden?”

Trump keeps taking shots at former Vice President Joe Biden’s appearance, even calling him “Sleepy Joe” several times on Twitter. On Tuesday, he added that he doesn’t think Biden “looks” like he once did. The president clearly sees the former VP has his biggest threat. After all, a RealClearPolitics average of several polls puts Biden ahead in a hypothetical head-to-head general election race by 7.5 percentage points over Trump.

“And Bernie. Bernie’s crazy. But Bernie’s’ got a lot more energy than Biden. But it’s energy to get rid of your jobs.”

Trump has said for weeks he is convinced the Democratic primary will come down to a slugfest between Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic-socialist. Trump noted Sanders’ support for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party’s “Green New Deal,” claiming it would kill jobs and the economy. 

[Trump asks Congress to shift project funds to states he needs to win in 2020]

“Pocahontas is probably definitely out.”

Trump is still mindful of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s appeal to many Democratic voters. So he is trying to weaponize her low polling numbers to describe her as already too far behind Biden, Sanders and a few others. RealClear’s latest average has Biden leading with 39.8 percent of Democrats supporting him, followed by Sanders with just over 16 percent, then Warren with just over 8 percent.

“We do not believe in socialism. If you had something built from socialism, it’d be falling down.”

Trump and the entire Republican campaign machine for months has been labeling all the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders and the party’s congressional incumbents as hell bent on not just providing generous European-style generous social benefits, but a Venezuela-like failed state. It’s unlikely to win over many Democratic voters or even educated independents in key swing states — but Trump and Co. are betting it will fire up his base and more conservative blue-collar Democrats who voted for him last time to do so again in a year-and-a-half.

“When the wind doesn’t blow you don’t watch television that night, your wife says, ‘What the Hell did you get me into with this Green New Deal, Charlie?!’”

See above.

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