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Analysis: At Trump Rally, It Was 2016 Again

President mixes fear with bold promises, big boasts before friendly crowd

President Donald Trump speaks during the annual Days of Remembrance Holocaust ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on April 25, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
President Donald Trump speaks during the annual Days of Remembrance Holocaust ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on April 25, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump, echoing his populist 2016 campaign, mixed the politics of fear and bold promises as he returned to the campaign trail Tuesday evening in Ohio.

As he delivered parts of his remarks in Youngstown, it well could have been July 2016 with then-Republican nominee Trump at the podium. The world is more unsafe than ever. The United States has been run for too long by “stupid” politicians. People who wish to Americans harm are pouring over the southern border. Other countries are taking advantage of U.S. workers and consumers.

And there is only one person capable of change all of that: Donald J. Trump.

Trump did mention the Senate’s dramatic vote earlier in the day to move to floor debate to repeal and perhaps replace Barack Obama’s 2010 health law. He called on GOP senators to fulfill their seven-year pledge to get rid of it. But he opted against using the rally to gin up support for the Senate effort in a key swing state.

Instead, the president described a country being tormented by Obama’s law — which he said was built on “lies” — and overrun by the MS-13 gang. Both, he told the supportive audience, have required him and his administration to do a little “liberating.”

“We’re liberating our towns and we’re liberating our cities,” Trump said just after saying some parts of the country no longer seem like the United States anymore. “Can you believe we have to do that?”

As a candidate, Trump often pushed the envelope when discussing matters like undocumented immigrants from Mexico, and Central and South America. He was back at it Tuesday night.

[Trump Sees Power in Twitter — but Not to Sell Health Care Bill]

He praised those in the arena for their collective “loyalty” to their fellow Americans, adding: “And we want people who come into our country who can love us and cherish us and be proud of us and the American flag.”

Trump told the friendly crowds that his administration is “restoring our government’s allegiance … to the people we all love. … 

He did not elaborate on just who those folks are, but the crowd applauded just the same. 

Finally, finally, finally, we are putting America first,” Trump said.

Looking for ‘great’ people

Trump told the crowd he wants “great” people to immigrate to the United States, but he made clear the country’s overall demographics would be much different if all of his immigration policies, especially his promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, are put in place.

“Don’t even think about it, we will build the wall,” he said to loud cheers. “Walls do work.”

And about what he and other conservatives long have said are the ills of immigration, the president said under his watch “we are not going to put ourselves through the problems we have for years.”

Trump long has criticized America’s post-9/11 wars as unwise and run poorly, saying as commander in chief he will keep the country out of foreign conflicts. Yet, he wants more defense spending and a massive military build up.

Yet, he did not get into specifics in explaining that contradiction when he told the Youngstown crowd there “rarely [has] been a time when we need the protection of our great military than right now, right here.”

He even played Realtor, imploring Youngstown area residents to put off selling their homes. Why? He promised to revive the local economy. He vowed to return residents there to jobs in shuttered factories, adding that if existing manufacturing facilities are not restored, he will “rip them down” and build new ones.”

“We have to protect our industry,” he said. “We are reclaiming our heritage as a manufacturing nation again.”

Trump did not spell out a plan for how he intends to that, or pay for it if he was suggesting federal funds would be used.

Leveling the field?

On trade, Trump again floated his idea to install a “reciprocal” tax on goods coming from other countries. His notion is to create a level playing field for U.S. companies, goods and workers. When he discussed the idea through the lens of other countries playing America for a fool, he got one of the biggest pops from the crowd.

And, in a scene that was so 2016, the crowd let out a loud U-S-A chant when Trump said if he is unable to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts, “we will terminate NAFTA and we will start all over again.”

[Sessions on the Cusp of Martyrdom or Oblivion]

 “We will no longer be the stupid people who get taken care of so badly by our politicians because they don’t know what they’re doing,” Trump said, returning to the rhetoric of the campaign trail he seems to so relish.


Like candidate Trump, President Trump also made big promises in Ohio. That list included leading an America that will be “unstoppable” even if Republicans and Democrats cannot “come together.”


Trump said his administration is “going to start enriching our country. We’re going to start bringing back our jobs. And we will be fools no longer, folks.”


Each vague-but-big promise was right out of the 2016 campaign playbook that delivered him an improbable victory over Hillary Clinton.


And the promises kept flowing right through his walk-off line: “We’re make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.”


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