Five highlights from Trump’s raucous Alabama rally
President Trump targeted a slew of foes during a campaign rally Friday night for Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), touching on health care, the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula and NFL players’ protests during the national anthem.
Trump escalated his war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling him “Little Rocket Man,” and taking several swipes at Sen. John McCain over the Arizona Republican’s “terrible” decision to oppose the latest ObamaCare repeal bill.
Here are five highlights from Trump’s campaign speech:
Ratcheting up criticism of North Korea’s ‘Little Rocket Man’
Trump continued to escalate his verbal battle with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, modifying his nickname for Kim as “Little Rocket Man.”
“This shouldn’t be handled now. But I’m going to handle it because we have to handle it. Little Rocket Man. We’re going to do it. Because we really have no choice choice. We really have no choice,” Trump said.
The president also blasted past administrations’ handling of North Korea.
“He should have been handled a long time ago by Clinton. I won’t mentioned the Republicans, by Obama,” he continued, referring to past presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
The president’s comments come after Kim issued a scathing statement in response to Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly this week, in which Trump referred to Kim as “Rocket Man.” Kim later called the president a “mentally deranged dotard.”
North Korea’s foreign minister also threatened to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean as a response to Trump’s U.N. address.
Swiping at John McCain for ‘terrible’ health-care decision
The president also took aim at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the rally, just hours after the senator announced he would vote “no” on the latest Senate GOP effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Trump called McCain’s decision “totally unexpected” and “terrible.”
“John McCain, if you look at his last campaign, it was all about repeal and replace, repeal and replace,” Trump said. “So he decided to do something different, and that’s fine.”
The president swiped at McCain after the Arizona Republican announced his opposition to a repeal measure sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), potentially dooming the repeal effort.
“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said in a statement.
Senate GOP leaders have to get 50 senators for Vice President Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote for the repeal bill before a Sept. 30 deadline expires to pass the measure with majority support.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has already voiced his opposition to the bill, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said she is leaning against the legislation.
McCain and Collins joined with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in voting against Senate Republicans’ scaled-down ObamaCare repeal legislation in July.
Blasting NFL players who protest the national anthem
Trump’s campaign rally Friday night covered issues beyond legislative and international affairs.
The president slammed NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick, saying NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired,’ ” Trump said.
“Luther and I and everyone in this arena tonight are unified by the same great American values. We’re proud of our country. We respect our flag.”
The president’s comments drew backlash from the NFL community, with commissioner Roger Goodell saying Saturday that Trump’s “divisive comments” show “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”
The head of the NFL Players Association responded as well, saying the union “will never back down” from supporting players’ right to protest.
‘See through’ border wall
Trump revealed at the Alabama rally that his proposed southern border wall would be a “see through” barrier that would allow people see who is on the other side.
“The wall is happening. In fact, you probably saw, you know, we have a wall up there now, and re-renovating it already. It’s being made pristine, perfect, just as good as new, though we may go a little higher than that, but that’s OK. And we are building samples of a new wall. You know, it has to be a see-through wall,” the president told the crowd at the rally.
“If you can’t [see] through it, you don’t know who’s on the other side. Let’s say we build a pre-cast concrete wall and now we have people on the other side,” he continued. “It’s going to stop drugs. It’s going to stop a lot of bad things.”
The president’s comments come after he struck a deal with Democrats on the debt ceiling earlier this month, indicating that it would not include funding for a border wall.
The proposed border wall was a cornerstone of Trump’s presidential campaign.
While Trump has insisted Mexico would pay for the wall, the country’s President Enrique Peña Nieto had repeatedly said his country would not pay for the wall’s construction.
Congress has not yet fully funded the wall’s construction.
Last-minute pitch for ‘Big’ Luther Strange
While the president devoted much of his speech to other issues, his primary reason for traveling to Alabama on Friday was to make a last-minute pitch for Strange over opponent Roy Moore ahead of Alabama’s closely watched Senate GOP runoff on Tuesday.
“I have to say this, and you understand this, and just look at the polls. Luther will definitely win,” Trump said. “Roy [Moore] has a very good chance of not winning in the general election.”
However, Trump revealed he told Strange, who is a GOP establishment favorite, that he would support whichever candidate wins the primary runoff.
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