Trump’s address at a Boeing facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, had nearly all the makings of the mega rallies he hosted throughout his rise from a once-long-shot Republican presidential candidate: a friendly crowd — which he insisted was record size — that at one point chanted “U-S-A.”
The differences between Friday’s photo-op and a campaign rally were subtle, the most notable distinctions being that Trump refrained from attacking the media and spoke with a new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner behind him instead of his own personal aircraft. Trump himself even noted one variance from what had the unmistakable aura of a campaign rally.
“In the old days, when I made this speech, I got paid a whole lot of money. Now I have to do it for nothing,” Trump said, prompting laughter. “Not a good deal, but that’s OK. We love it.”
Speaking in a state where he claimed victory in the primary and general election, Trump reflected on South Carolina as a state that was supposed to be “tough to win” but, as he phrased it, “we won in a landslide.” He thanked officials who have supported him from the state, including current Gov. Henry McMaster and former Gov. Nikki Haley, the president’s ambassador to the United Nations.
His remarks — he spoke for about 15 minutes — were a condensed version of things he said during the campaign, sprinkled with rhetoric paying homage to his locale.
Trump heaped praise on the aircraft behind him, congratulating the men and women who built it. The plane, he said is “beautiful.” It’s “an amazing piece of art,” he added, and “an amazing piece of work,” even if it is 30 years old.
“Can you believe it? What can look so beautiful at 30?” Trump asked — and answered. “An airplane.”
The dizzying, mesmerizing Trump show
By Todd S. Purdum
He also detailed the specs of the aircraft: The 330-seat plane is made of carbon fiber and is 18 feet longer than the prior version.
“And this airplane can fly for half a day before it touches the ground. The name says it all: Dreamliner,” Trump said. “Great name. Our country is all about making dreams come true.”
“Over the last number of years that hasn’t been necessarily the case, but we’re gonna make it the case again,” he continued. “That’s what we do in America. We dream of things and then we build them. We turn vision into reality, and we will be doing a lot more of that — believe me — in the months and years to come.”
It marked a warm-up act, of sorts, as the president will next get a jumpstart on his 2020 campaign with a Saturday afternoon rally in Melbourne, Florida, just one month after being inaugurated as America’s 45th commander in chief.
It’s been a tumultuous month for Trump, whose administration has been dogged by leaks, protests, unfavorable court decisions, Cabinet delays, potential investigations over ethics violations and ties to Russia, conflicting narratives coming from his top aides, the withdrawal of his original labor secretary nominee, the ouster of his national security adviser and the rebuffing from the official whom Trump asked to replace him.
But Friday represented an opportunity to begin to reset the narrative. Trump will get a break from Washington and spend the next few days at his weekend White House, his Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump unleashes fury after four long weeks
By Josh Dawsey and Alex Isenstadt
Largely sticking to the script on Friday, Trump spoke of rebuilding the military to create “peace through strength” and of his America-first strategy that he says will slash regulations, lower taxes, bring back jobs, punish companies that leave the country but try to sell their products here, and put an end to “tremendous cheating” in foreign trade.
“Already, American industry is roaring back, and believe me, if we, not me — I’m a messenger — if we didn’t have this victory, we wouldn’t be even talking about it,” Trump said. “Since November, jobs have already begun to surge.”
For as much as Friday’s event seemed like a rally, though, it also had hints of pandering. Trump at one point used the plane and the plant as a symbol for what America can achieve.
“Working together as a unit, there is nothing we cannot accomplish: no task too large, no dream too great, no goal beyond our reach,” Trump said. “Just like you built this incredible airplane behind me — both of them, when you think about it — we are going to rebuild this country.”
And if it wasn’t clear that he was playing to the crowd there, it was unmistakable in closing.
“God bless you,” Trump said. “May God bless the United States of America. And God bless Boeing.”