President Donald Trump’s spirited appearance Thursday night in Minneapolis — his 12th campaign rally this year and his first since the House impeachment inquiry began — was a medley of policy priorities, swipes at political rivals and vows to claim Minnesota’s 10 Electoral College votes next year. Here’s a look at some key moments from his Target Center speech.
Turkey and Syria
The president defended his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria, which prompted a military incursion by Turkey. “We’re not fighting, we’re policing” in the Middle East, he said. “We did our job.” He said he could “hit Turkey very hard financially” or mediate a deal between it and the Kurds, who were U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS and are under attack.
The ongoing inquiry by House Democrats was on the president’s mind. He defended as appropriate the phone conversation with Ukraine’s president that triggered the investigation. “There was no blackmail,” he said. He also aimed criticism at those who are leading the probe. “These people are sick,” he said, and are “trying to nullify” the 2016 election outcome.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both pledged to defend the constitutional right to bear arms. After citing his record on the economy, military spending and health care, Trump said, “What we’ve done is incredible, and by the way, we’re protecting your Second Amendment. If you don’t have me, your Second Amendment is gone.”
Trade and tariffs
As part of a critique of Joe Biden’s record, Trump blamed the former vice president and Barack Obama for flawed trade deals. “If you’re dumb as hell, you wouldn’t make these deals, they’re so bad,” he said. The president did not mention the effects of the tariff fight with China on farming; Minnesota farmers received $681 million in federal payouts last year.
He reiterated his pledge to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, which was a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign. Democrats, he said, “believe it should not be a crime to cross our border illegally.” He also promised to give communities more say in refugee policies and cited his ban on travel to the U.S. from some Muslim countries, which withstood legal challenges.
The president brought up assertions that he is “getting rich off our nation” because of his businesses, including resorts and hotels. “They say emoluments,” he said. “Nobody ever heard of the word before. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.” He said that he has lost millions of dollars in potential revenue from his companies because of his White House service.
Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar didn’t get a mention, but the president singled out Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar for barbs. He described Frey, whom he has battled recently on Twitter, as “rotten” and “lousy.” Trump called Omar, in whose district he spoke, an “American-hating socialist” and “a disgrace to our country.”