Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’s still committed to forcing Mexico to pay for America’s border wall that’s now under construction, and he predicted his policies will help the Republican Party increase its advantages in both houses of Congress this year.
The president told a rally crowd in Nashville, Tennessee that despite the historical near-certainty of presidents losing congressional seats to the opposition party two years after taking office, his first midterm election would be different.
‘We will reverse a trend,’ he predicted, telling voters that they can overcome a ‘complacent’ attitude by swarming to support GOP candidates at the polls in November – like Senate hopeful Marsha Blackburn, who spoke before him.
Trump earned some of his loudest applause at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium by declaring that despite high-wire-act negotiations over the North America Free Trade Agreement, he will find a way to soak America’s neighbors to the south.
‘I don’t want to cause a problem,’ he said to cheers from the 90-percent-capacity audience, ‘but in the end Mexico’s going to pay for the wall.’
Mexico’s president shoved back hard.
‘NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever,’ Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted. ‘Sincerely, Mexico (all of us).’
President Donald Trump fed red meat to a rally crowd in Tennessee on Tuedsay, blasting ‘Crooked Hillary’ Clinton and insisting that he’ll make good on a three-year-old promise to build a border wall with Mexico’s money
Thousands filed into the Nashville Municipal Auditorium to cheer the president Tuesday night as he promoted his own issue portfolio and helped generate interest in Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn
Blackburn, a conservative Tennessee congresswoman, wants to win the Senate seat held by the retiring moderate GOP Sen. Bob Corker
Enrique Peña Nieto, the President of Mexico, shoved back on Twitter against Trump, saying his country will ‘NEVER’ pay for a wall separating it form the U.S.
Trump complained about a $71 billion trade deficit – inflating it to an even $100 billion – and vented about a flood of illegal immigrants whose presence he blames partly on Mexico’s laissez-faire attitude toward through-travelers.
‘They make all of this money and they do absolutely nothing to stop people from going through Mexico, from Honduras and all these other countries,’ Trump said.
‘They’re going to pay for the wall, and they’re going to enjoy it. Okay? They do nothing for us.’
Trump has demanded a wall between the U.S. and Mexico for the past three years, claiming it would have a dramatic effect on sotpping drug trafficking and the crime that comes with it.
But he said Tuesday that without a Congress tilted more dramatically in Republicans’ favor, crime statistics will trend in the wrong difection.
As the auditorium filled up Tuesday night and rally-goers shook the rain off their jackets and ponchos, country music star Trace Adkins performed – and included in his brief set list a tune called ‘Ladies Love Country Boys.’
He said Trump, ‘my friend,’ had told him the song was his daughter Ivanka’s favorite.
Trump has promised for three years that he would physically wall off Mexico fom the U.S., and appeared in March alongside a group of prototypes erected in San Diego, California
Trump didn’t manage to fill the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, leaving entire sections empty or nearly empty
Country music star Trade Adkins performed three numbers before Trump spoke, including one that he said was Ivanka Trump’s favorite song
Trump supporters stood outside in the rain to get in on Tuesday, including some who arrived 10 hours before the doors opened
Some anti-Trump protesters like Rita Tompkins and Linda Davis – but not many – stood outside to make their voices heard against Trump and Blackburn on Tuesday
The president made no mention of the swirling controversy of ABC’s cancelation of the ‘Roseanne’ show, a program that was seen as giving voice to some of his backers.
Roseanne Barr, an unapologetic Trump supporter whose on-screen character generated a gigantic audience by articulating similar views, became an instant pariah Tuesday afternoon after sending a racist tweet that compared a former Barack Obama adviser to an ‘ape.’
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One that ‘that’s not what he’s spending his time on. … I think that we have a lot bigger things going on in the country right now.’
Trump was all business, only straying into Hollywood talk once – to point out fht Adkins was a former winner on his ‘Celebrity apprentice’ reality TV series.
‘Crime is down in the country, but we need Republicans. … If you want your country to be safe, you must go out and get the Democrats the hell out of office,’ he said, adding that if Democrats ‘take over’ Congress, ‘you won’t have a Second Amendment.’
Trump lamented his own party’s inability to march in lockstep on Capitol Hill, a phenomenon that his own antics and hard-line policies sometimes drive to the surface.
Democrats, he siad, are ‘bad at everything, but they’re good at sticking together. I give them respect for that.’
The White House is concerned, an official said earlier Tuesday, that without an expansion of its current 51-49 U.S. Senate advantage, the next series of key legislative battles will favor liberals who aim to ‘throw up roadblocks and grind everything the president wants to do to a halt.’
The president said nothing Tuesday night about the controversy swirling around TV star Roseanne Barr, a vocal support of his who saw her career crash and burn hours earlier over a racist tweet
A couple kissed in line and took a selfie before the rally in Nashville on Tuesday
Trump’s larger purpose coming to Tennessee was to raise money for Blackburn to support her Senate bid
So Trump, the official added, wants to communicate to his supporters that ‘electing another Senate Democrat means nothing they voted for in 2016 gets done.’
Blackburn’s race is one the president has paid special attention to, he said, and Trump didn’t disappoint – going after the contest’s top Democrat, Phil Bredesen, by name and painting him as a far-left supporter of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
‘Crooked Hillary!’ the president exclaimed, seeming surprised at his own ability to weave his former election foe’s name into a speech long after her political sell-by date had passed.
A few in the crowd obliged him, chanting ‘Lock her up!’ – a throwback to the daily refrain that accompanied his every campaign speech in 2016.
He threw them additional red meat, reminiscing about an Ohio rally where Clinton brought to star power of rapper Jay-Z to draw urban voters to hear her speak.
The event became a punchline, though, when most of the audience filed out before the candidate delivered her remarks.
For Trump, though, the problem was Jay-Z’s blue-streak word choices.
‘He’d use the F-word and Hillary would sit back and say, “Oh, I’m in trouble! Please don’t have him use that language anymore”,’ Trump said Tuesday. ‘His language was so filthy!’
The president also signaled that he will have no problem going after Bredesen.
‘I never heard of this guy. Who is he? He’s an absolute, total tool of Chuck Schumer. He’s a tool of Chuck Schumer and of course the MS-13 lover Nancy Pelosi,’ he ranted.
‘Phil whatever-the-hell-his-name-is, this guy will vote 100 per cent against us every single time.’
Corker, the retiring chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has crossed swords with Trump and turned down his offer to be the U.S. ambassador to Australia
Former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, is running for Corker’s Senate seat against Blackburn, and Trump blasted him as a far-left cohort of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi
Blackburn and Bredesen are vying to succeed the retiring Sen. Bob Corker, a GOP moderate who once questioned the president’s ‘stability’ and called his White House an ‘adult day care center.’
Corker is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, amplifying his objections to Trump’s moves in North Korea and Iran.
He was in Nashville Tuesady night. Thousands booed loudly at Trump’s mention of his name alongside a list of other Tennessee GOP politicians.
Trump was all smiles despite calling the diminutive senator ‘Liddle Bob’ last year and saying he ‘couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee.’
Complaining too loudly about Corker could have produced another odd twist since the White House asked him last month to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Australia.
Corker turned down the offer.
When the former Chattanooga mayor suggested in December that he might vote against a broad tax cut package favored by the White House, Trump called him ‘incompetent.’
Corker didn’t take it lying down, tweeting: ‘It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning,’ he tweeted.
Blackburn supports Trump’s emphasis on border security and slowing illegal immigration. The president was privately incensed last year when Twitter banned an ad her campaign produced that accused abortion providers of profiting from the ‘sale of baby body parts.’
She has also worked closely with Ivanka Trump on child care reform issues. And she raised eyebrows in April when she grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about his conservatives’ complaints that his company had shadow-banned’ them by quietly limiting the reach of their messages.
Trump wants to see a wider Republican majority in the Senate than the GOP’s current 51-49 edge, hoping for more wiggle room as he pushes policy through in 2019 and 2020
Blackburn had been tweeting up a storm in anticipation of her spotlight moment with Trump
Trump tweeted last month that the congresswoman is a ‘wonderful woman who has always been there when we have needed her.’
Bredesen, a popular former Democratic governor, put the Senate race in play by entering the race in December. He and Blackburn are likely to romp over their primary competitors on August 2, setting the stage for a battle that pollsters say the Democrat could win by a nose.
Every nonpartisan poll taken in April showed Bredesen narrowly ahead, with each survey’s result within its margin of error.
But the Rothenberg Political Report and political scientist Larry Sabato’s ‘Crystal Ball’ report both rate the contest as ‘leaning’ toward Blackburn.
Trump endorsed Blackburn a month ago, tweeting that she is ‘a wonderful woman who has always been there when we have needed her. Great on the Military, Border Security and Crime.’
Blackburn, a self-described ‘hardcore, card-carrying Tennessee conservative,’ served on Trump’s transition team. She has been pointedly counting down the days on Twitter until Trump comes to town.
Trump won Tennessee decidedly in 2016 and remains popular there.