Donald Trump launched into a rambling rant on trade with China before falsely claiming the Democrats planned “open borders”, during an Ohio rally called in a bid to prevent a shock Republican special election defeat.
Speaking at a high school gym near Columbus, the president offered his support to GOP candidate Troy Balderson, who is in a tight race with Democrat Danny O’Connor for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.
Mr Trump was keen to warn those in attendance about voting Democrat, claiming incorrectly the “new platform” of the party was to dissolve the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
“A vote for Troy’s opponent is a vote for open borders, which equals massive crime,” he said.
“They don’t care about it, they don’t care about the crime, they don’t your military and they don’t care about your vets.
“The new platform of the Democrat party is to abolish ICE and let’s not worry about crime.”
In a rambling and at times incoherent rant on global trade, the president claimed international companies would “come to Ohio and build a plant” if he imposed tariffs.
“When we make a car and send it to China they charge us a 25 per cent tax,” he said: “When they make a car and send it to us, we charge them essentially nothing, it’s two-and-a-half per cent but basically they don’t pay it.
“So they pay, think of it, they pay two-and-a-half per cent, meaning nothing, and we pay 25 per cent and on top of it, they don’t want our cars, that’s even worse.
“So what they do is they say is ‘no, no, we don’t want your cars’ but they tell General Motors ‘build the plant in China’.
“I don’t blame them, look, I don’t blame China, I don’t blame any of these countries I don’t have to go through them I’ve got some good relationships - believe it or not they all like me.
“They understand, they can’t believe themselves they got away with it, they can’t believe they got away with it. But they have and we’re turning it around, we’re turning it around fast.”
Mr Trump was corrected by a member of the crowd while boasting his margin of victory in Ohio during the 2016 presidential election was 11 per cent.
When a voice from the audience told him the actual margin of victory was eight-and-a-half points, he said: “We’ll take that. We’ll take that, did you have to be so accurate?”
The president also mentioned his proposed “space force”, telling supporters there was “so much happening in space” besides “Mars and the Moon.”
“I have also directed the Pentagon to begin the process of creating the sixth branch of the United States armed forces called the Space Force. Space. Very important,” he said.
“That’s going to be great. Look, so much is happening now in space, I’m not just talking about Mars and the Moon, I’m talking about tremendous defence capability, offensive capability.
“It’s in space, so we’re going to do the Space Force.”
One topic Mr Trump did not touch was his ongoing row with professional basketball player LeBron James.
Mr Trump has thrown insults at Mr James after he claimed in an interview with CNN the president had “kinda used sport to divide us”.
First lady Melania Trump later released a statement praising the LA Lakers star and claiming she would be open to visiting the new school he has funded.
Mr James is a hero in his native Ohio, a fact that did not escape the attention of the Democratic candidate Danny O’Connor.
“I'm focused on talking to Ohio voters right now. We’ve got an election to win in just three days,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
“But I don't have to tell *anyone* what LeBron James means to Ohio.”
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