Trump's most eyebrow-raising lines from his jobs event-turned-rally in Charlotte

'If you're not going to get credit, you might as well take it yourself,' president advises with a smirk

John T. Bennett
Washington
@BennettJohnT
Friday 07 February 2020 21:27
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Trump says Nancy Pelosi 'broke the law' by ripping copy of speech

Donald Trump riffed and mused about the economy and his political rivals during a job-creation event in Charlotte that, right on cue, became another mini-political rally complete with a shot at Democratic White House hopeful Pete Buttigieg.

"Trump is going to kill us on this," he said of watching Democrats and the media report on the latest jobs data, which showed better than forecasted growth last month. He pounded his lectern with his fist and added: "They're right."

The president was back on offence on Friday, first during his first South Lawn gaggle of the year, then on stage in Charlotte, North Carolina – a major city in a potential 2020 swing state that he must hold onto to secure a second term.

The more he went off script, the more the audience at Central Piedmont Community College cheered, at one point helping him give the event a political rally feel when they broke into a "four more years!" chant.

Here is a grab bag of his top quotes from the event, backed by analysis from The Independent's Washington Bureau.

"If you're not going to get credit, you might as well take it yourself." Perhaps the most Trump thing Mr Trump has ever said.

"Pete Buttigieg, whoever the hell that is." Mr Trump uses nicknames to try to discredit political foes. He went further here, suggesting the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor – who might have pulled an upset by winning the Iowa Caucuses, something that's up in the air due to problems counting the votes there – is a political nobody. In the past, Mr Trump has suggested "Mayor Pete" lacks the gravitas to push back on global strongmen like Russian President Vladimir Putin and others. The former Navy intelligence officer, however, says he's more qualified to do that than Mr Trump, and adds he doesn't think the current commander in chief does so very often.

"What the hell do you have to lose? ... That's why they're all looking for jobs." The former was candidate Trump's pitch to black voters in 2016. He argued Democratic politicians had done little – despite counting on their votes for decades – to improve their lives. Trump won just 8.5 percent of the black vote nationally in 2016. But his latter comment is eyebrow-raising, as it seems the president believes most blacks were unemployed or otherwise on the hunt for a job.

That was not the case. The black labour participation rate that year was on par with that of white workers, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Nearly 62 percent of blacks were working then, compared to almost 63 percent of whites.

"I pretend, one point down everywhere." Mr Trump revealed something here. That's how he thinks about every state as a campaigner. As he said on Thursday during his post-Senate acquittal East Room "celebration" statement-turned-rally, everything is a battle. He used the word "war" to describe the impeachment battle. And on Friday, he told reporters on the South Lawn en route to Charlotte that he views "everyone" as a "threat". Every state, too, it seems.

"We'll be coming here a lot. We're way up in the polls." That's because North Carolina is considered in the second tier of swing states. Most political analysts think Mr Trump will win it again, but depending on who is the Democratic nominee, it is not unthinkable that he could drop the Tar Heel State.

"Single greatest comeback. We were doing poorly." This is undermined by two things: government data shows the economy was growing under President Barack Obama, though slowly. And candidate Trump spent ample time making that very point: The growth, he said, was too slow. Economic growth in recent months under Mr Trump now resembles most of the Obama presidency.

"A child wouldn't have agreed to this stuff." A new version of his contention that every US president before him – Republicans and Democrats alike – signed "stupid" trade deals with other countries that led America to being "ripped off". He touted his trade deal with China, describing it as a more comprehensive pact that many independent analysts say it is. And he has said there must be a "phase two" to resolve longstanding differences between the two economic giants.

The benefits of the first phase of the China pact, however, will be slowed by the coronavirus, White House chief economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow said. "The export boom from that trade deal will take longer because of the Chinese virus, that is true," he said earlier this week. On Friday, Kudlow said Chinese President Xi Jinping assured Mr Trump in a Thursday evening telephone call that his country can meet all of its commitments under the trade pact while it deals with the virus.

"We want everyone to get ahead, big league." That should finally put to rest whether Mr Trump has been saying "bigly" or "big league" all these years. Maybe. But probably not.

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