Last night, President Donald Trump arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, to give a speech at an event that amounted to a political rally. The previous night, he spoke about his strategy in Afghanistan (although many people did not tune in). He did not address any of the controversies looming over his presidency.
Before we get into what Trump said in Phoenix, here’s some background:
- This would be the first time Trump would speak since the backlash over his Charlottesville comments. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton even wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post urging Trump not to come to Arizona, saying it was too soon after Charlottesville and tensions had not eased. Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey did not attend Trump’s rally.
- Which brings us to this second point: Several people in Trump’s GOP party have reportedly turned on Trump. They’re saying he’s not fit to be president.
- Many were also wondering if Trump would pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty for criminal contempt for “defying a judge’s court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants” on July 31.
With Charlottesville and the recent resignations of senior staff, it appears the rally in Phoenix was Trump’s way to get encouragement from his supporters.
As The Washington Post states: “When he finds himself under attack or slipping in popularity, he often holds a rally in a place like this: a diverse blue city that’s home to liberal protesters but surrounded by red suburbs and rural towns filled with Trump supporters who will turn out in droves.”
So, what did Trump say in Phoenix? The president first went on an insane rant against the media.
“…But the very dishonest media, those people right up there with all the cameras,” Trump said pointing at the cameras in front of him, which garnered boos from the audience. “I mean, truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up stories. They have no sources in many cases. They say ‘a source says’ — there is no such thing. But they don’t report the facts. Just like they don’t want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists, and the KKK.”
Then Trump began to talk about Charlottesville. Not about what happened there, but about his own statements.
Real-time fact check:
Pres Trump re-reads his remarks on Charlottesville protests & notably omits "on both sides."
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) August 23, 2017
Trump pulled out a paper and proceed to read out his initial statement about Charlottesville. But the interesting thing about it is that he never said the words that caused him so much backlash: .
Trump talked about his social media habits and claimed he doesn’t go on “Twitter storms.”
President Trump: "I don't do Twitter storms."
This is Trump's tweets from Thursday: pic.twitter.com/Lc4ONdfaDC
— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 23, 2017
“If I don’t have social media, I probably would not be standing,” Trump said. “And do you ever notice, when I go on and I’ll put, like, out a tweet or a couple of tweets, ‘He’s in a Twitter-storm again!’ I — I don’t do Twitter-storms. You know, you’ll put out a little tweet: ‘I’m going to be with the veterans today.’ They’ll say, ‘Donald Trump is in a Twitter-storm.’ These are sick people.
Trump hinted that he will pardon Arpaio, despite his press secretary saying otherwise.
Trump still threatening pardon of Arpaio. This is a direct attack on the rule of law, as well as the U.S. Constitution.
— Cecillia Wang (@WangCecillia) August 23, 2017
“But Sheriff Joe can feel good,” Trump said. “The people of Arizona know the deadly and heartbreaking consequences of illegal immigration, the lost lives, the drugs, the gangs, the cartels, the crisis of smuggling and trafficking.”
When talking about immigration, Trump went back to MS-13, again.
It wouldn't be a Trump speech without a mention of MS-13 on Long Island. “We’re liberating towns out on Long Island." – Trump in Phoenix
— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) August 23, 2017
Trump, described again, a fictitious tale of how MS-13 gang members prey and kill their victims.
“You’ve seen it,” Trump said. “You’ve lived it, and you elected me to put a stop to it. And we are doing a phenomenal job of putting a stop to it. That I can tell you.”
Trump also took a time out to say that he’s in good shape.
this woman's reaction to Donald Trump talking about how he's in shape is all our reactions pic.twitter.com/JJDCR4fJ1N
— Dave Lozo (@davelozo) August 23, 2017
When speaking about being in Yuma, Arizona with ICE, Trump mentioned (several times) about the extreme heat in the area. But noted that he could handle it because he’s in a shape.
This wasn’t an off-the-cuff comment, but a straight jab at many political pundits that say Trump isn’t physicially fit to be president.
Before ending his speech, Trump said that one way or another, the U.S.-Mexico border wall would be built.
Trump signals willingness to shut down government if he doesn't get funding for the wall Mexico was supposed to pay for.
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) August 23, 2017
“Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it,” Trump said. “But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”
Trump went on to talk about possibly ending NAFTA, how it was good for him to get out of the Paris Agreement, and about beautiful clean coal.
One of the weirdest moments from his speech was this Trump supporter who was plugging a conspiracy website.
— Ryan A Bell AR VR (@ryan_a_bell) August 23, 2017
Trump also mentioned that the group of protesters outside the rally was very small, but his crowd wasn’t exactly massive:
— David Catanese (@davecatanese) August 23, 2017
This is how CNN’s Don Lemon described Trump’s speech:
The best speech by a Don tonight was by Don Lemon. His response to Trump's rally is phenomenal. Nailed it. pic.twitter.com/Y9iX9IDMV3
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) August 23, 2017