Trump claims July 4 rally will lead to 'big spike' in people joining US military

President receives mixed reviews for Independence Day speech

Andrew Buncombe
Friday 05 July 2019 19:35 BST
Trump claims that American troops 'took over airports' during the Revolutionary War

Donald Trump has claimed his controversial July 4 rally in Washington DC will lead to a “big spike” in people signing up to join the US military.

Speaking to reporters a day after his “Salute to America” event that heaped praise on the country’s military drew mixed reviews, the president predicted a bump in recruitment.

“Despite the rain, that was just a fantastic evening. I think people really had – and I think a lot of people, you know – it was really a recruitment situation,” he told reporters as he left the White House to spend the weekend at his golf resort in New Jersey “A lot of people are going to be joining our army, navy, air force.”

He added: “Our military now is just about the tops, just about the best it’s ever been. There’s nobody that comes close to the power we have in our military.”

On Thursday, July 4, the president had addressed many thousands of people on a rainy day in the nation’s capital, in which he inserted himself into a celebration that has typically avoided overt displays of party politics.

As it was, although his critics claimed Mr Trump’s actions were part of his reelection campaign, the president largely stuck to the teleprompter and praised the military rather than himself.

“As long as we stay true to our cause — as long as we remember our great history — as long as we never, ever stop fighting for a better future — then there will be nothing that America cannot do,” Mr Trump said to loud cheers. “God bless you, God bless the military, and God bless America. Happy Fourth of July.”

Mr Trump’s only major error came when he claimed those who fought for America’s independence two-and-a-half centuries ago had stormed the airports – an historical impossibility he later blamed on a breakdown by the autocue.

Crowds turn out for Trump's Independence Day in Washington DC

“Right in the middle of that sentence, it went out. And that’s not a good feeling. Standing in front of millions and millions of people on television,” said Mr Trump.

“But I knew the speech very well, so i was able to do without a teleprompter but the teleprompter did go out.”

Not since 1951, when Harry Truman spoke before a large gathering on the Washington Monument grounds to mark the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, has a president made a July 4 address to such a crowd.

Hours before Mr Trump’s speech, activist group CodePink erected a 20-ft Trump baby balloon to protest what protesters claimed was an intrusion on Independence Day.

“We think that he is making this about himself and it’s really a campaign rally,” Medea Benjamin, the organisation’s co-director, told the Associated Press.

“We think that he’s a big baby. He’s erratic, he’s prone to tantrums, he doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions. And so this is a great symbol of how we feel about our president.”

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