In quotes: Trump’s campaign-style rally in Phoenix

US president holds campaign-style event in Phoenix as protests continue near venue.

President Trump Holds Rally In Phoenix, Arizona
Trump speaks to supporters at the Phoenix Convention Center [Ralph Freso/Getty Images/AFP]

US President Donald Trump held a political rally in Phoenix, Arizona, which is being described as a campaign-style event to drum up support. 

Trump has held a series of 2020 re-election campaign stops despite only having taken office in January.

The event on Tuesday at the Phoenix Convention Center is Trump’s first trip as president to Arizona, which he won in the 2016 election. 

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, had asked Trump to postpone the rally, while the nation healed from outrage and division after the deadly protest in Charlottesville.

The president addressed supporters for over one hour, as protests continued outside the venue. 

Here are some of the subjects he covered:

On the media

On his old foe, the “mainstream media”, Trump said: “The media can attack me, but where I draw the line is when they attack you. When they attack the decency of our supporters.”

He added: “You are honest, hard-working, tax-paying – by the way, you are overtaxed but we’re going to get your taxes down … it’s time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the media for their role in fomenting divisions.”

“These are truly dishonest people. They’re bad people. I really think they don’t like our country,” Trump said.

“The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media.”

On Charlottesville

Under fire for saying “both sides” were to blame for the violence between white supremacists and left-wing counterprotesters in Virginia on August 12, Trump accused television networks of ignoring his calls for unity in the aftermath.

“I didn’t say I love you because you’re black, or I love you because you’re white,” Trump said. “I love all the people of our country.”

He said the “very dishonest media” mischaracterised his response to the protest organised by white supremacists.

He re-read the statements he delivered on various days, insisting, “I did this three times”.

“This entire arena stands united in forceful condemnation of the thugs that perpetrated hatred and violence,” Trump said.

On foreign policy

On North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, Trump said: “I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us, I respect that fact very much. I respect that fact. And maybe probably not, but maybe something positive can come about, they won’t tell you that. But maybe something positive can come about.”

On Afghanistan, he said: “Last night, as you know, I laid out my vision for an honourable and enduring outcome in a very tough place, a place where our country has failed, Afghanistan. This is a place where terrorists are trained, where we have people who are not exactly United States fans, can I say that?

“And I will tell you, that what we’re going to do, with our incredible military, they’re going to make unbelievable sacrifices and they’ve already made, in some cases, the ultimate sacrifice. But we’re fighting for them, our war fighters deserve the tools they need and the trust they’ve earned to fight and to win. Fight and to win.”

Elsewhere, Trump said he thinks the US will “end up probably terminating” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico “at some point”.

“Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal because we have been so badly taken advantage of,” the president said, but cautioned he had yet to make up his mind.

On immigration

Trump threatened to shut down the federal government unless Congress provides funding for his promised border wall.

Trump said he had a message for “obstructionist” Democrats. “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.

The wall was one of Trump’s most popular campaign vows, prompting frequent rally chants of “Build that wall!”

Trump had promised Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico has so far refused.

On healthcare

Trump complained repeatedly about the “one vote” that stopped the Senate from repealing and replacing Obamacare, the signature domestic policy of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

He said: “They have 48 Democrats, we got no votes. We got no votes and it would’ve been great healthcare. And by the way, would’ve been great healthcare for Arizona; would’ve been great. So the Democrats have no ideas, no policy; no vision for the country other than total socialism and maybe – frankly – a step beyond socialism from what I’m seeing”.

“Under their plan for America, your taxes will double or triple, your services will diminish and your borders will be left wide open for everybody to come in and enjoy our country. Obamacare is a disaster and think … think! We were just one vote away from victory after seven years of everybody proclaiming ‘Repeal and Replace.’ One vote away.”

“But we are going to get rid of Obamacare. I will never stop. One vote! I will never stop. We’re going to get rid of Obamacare.”

‘Sheriff Joe’

Trump has signalled his willingness to pardon former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio over his conviction for intentionally disobeying a judge’s order in an immigration case.

Arpaio, 85, who had targeted those he believed were illegal immigrants in the Phoenix area, was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case.

“Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?” Trump asked, sparking loud applause and a chant of “Pardon Joe!”

“Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked, before predicting that Arpaio would be just fine.

“I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe can feel good,” he said.

The White House said on Tuesday that Trump would not issue a pardon for Arpaio during the rally.

Source: News Agencies