Trump’s Rally in Phoenix Full of Optimism, Refutes Charlottesville Criticism
Trump used the opportunity to bash the biased media, setting the record straight regarding his response to the Charlottesville riots.
Speaking in one of his most supportive states, President Donald Trump criticized the mainstream media for its unfair coverage of his response to the riot in Charlottesville and discussed what he’s accomplished during his eight months in office.
A lively crowd of 15,000 in Phoenix, Arizona, listened to the president. A couple thousand protesters stood outside yelling and chanting. Arizona is a fairly red state, not known for large left-wing protests. The temperature stayed around 100 degrees well into the evening.
Trump’s Response to Charlottesville
Trump refuted criticism that he did not denounce racism strongly enough after the Charlottesville riot. Notably, two prominent speakers were black.
Reminiscent of her famous uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Alveda King criticized the embracing of racial division. Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing of Urban Development, also spoke.
Reverend Franklin Graham gave a prayer asking God to shut the mouths of those who preach hate and divide “like you shut the mouths of the lions years ago.”
A black supporter of Trump sat prominently behind him during his speech, often standing up and waving a sign that said “Blacks for Trump.” His shirt said,”Trump & Republicans are not racist.” AP’s photos of the rally were almost all angled to exclude the black Trump supporter.
The VIPs sitting behind Trump included many minorities, as did the crowd. A strong theme throughout the rally was we are all united as Americans.
Reverend Franklin Graham gave a prayer asking God to shut the mouths of those who preach hate and divide people, “like you shut the mouths of the lions years ago.” Vice President Mike Pence introduced Trump to the crowd to chants of “USA, USA!”
The Media: Really Dishonest People
Trump did not hold back with his criticism of the mainstream media’s biased reporting against him. “For the most part,” he said, “these are really, really dishonest people, and they’re bad people. And I really think they don’t like our country.” He said the media wrongly accused him of not speaking out fast enough nor being specific enough.
He contradicted this by reading the three statements he made about the riots. In them, he clearly denounced white supremacism and racism. He observed, “The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself, and the fake news.”
As expected, Trump brought up the possibility of pardoning wrongly convicted Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A federal judge found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt for racially profiling illegal immigrants. When Trump mentioned Arpaio’s name, the crowd went wild. However, Trump said he would not issue the pardon that evening, due to the possibility the protesters might erupt in violence.
When Trump brought up illegal immigration, the crowd again erupted in cheers. He vowed to secure funding through Congress to build the border wall. “We are finally defending our own borders,” he exclaimed. Before the rally, Trump stopped in Yuma, Arizona, to visit a military base next to the border.
Trump Listed the Following Accomplishments
• Got 60 pieces of legislation passed into law
• Withdrew the U.S. from TPP
• Renegotiating NAFTA
• Withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord
• Unemployment is at a 17-year low
• Stock market is at an all-time high in history
• GDP is growing at 2.6 percent
• About to pass into law the first major tax reform in over 30 years, including a tax cut for middle class families
• The U.S. is now an energy exporter for the first time
McCain and Flake
Although he did not mention Arizona’s two U.S. senators John McCain and Jeff Flake by name, he alluded to them in criticism. Both Republicans have been very critical of Trump, and McCain voted against the Obamacare repeal Trump championed. He was one of only three Republicans to do so.
Trump also reiterated his support for eliminating the filibuster rule. That would require only 51 votes to repeal Obamacare instead of 60.
Three of Arizona’s Republican congressmen attended the rally, Trent Franks, Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs joined Governor Doug Ducey. State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, an early Trump supporter, opened the rally.
Other topics Trump addressed included his speech on Afghanistan the previous evening, refugees, care for veterans and removing Confederate statues. He growled, “They’re trying to take away our culture and history.”
Trump ended the speech with a list of his accomplishments. He complained that although he has gotten 50 pieces of legislation passed so far, the mainstream media reports that he’s gotten nothing passed. He concluded with his theme of making America great again, observing that “we are all named by the same almighty God.”
Rude Protesters Include
There was minimal violence. As the Trump supporters entered the convention center, protesters lined the sidewalk across the street from them, hurling insults and chanting. Some of the protesters carried signs that said “Love conquers hate,” while others screamed obscenities at the Trump supporters. A common chant contained the words “F*** Trump.”
Some protesters began throwing rocks and water bottles at the police toward the end of the rally. The police responded with tear gas. One man kicked a tear gas canister at the police. They shot a pepper ball at him, which knocked him down. Several protesters were arrested.
One protester was caught on video punching a black Trump supporter in the face, below.
Ugly scene in downtown Phoenix. Watch til the end pic.twitter.com/K516TbufIw
— Simon Romero (@viaSimonRomero) August 23, 2017
After the rally concluded, police formed two lines with shields outside the convention center forming a path around those leaving.There was a delay letting the rally attendees leave the convention center due to the tear gas. The police generally kept the protesters separated across the street.
BREAKING VIDEO: Moment police fire gas at protesters pic.twitter.com/7eI1hjuRc1
— azcentral (@azcentral) August 23, 2017
Bikers for Trump had a visible presence outside the rally, ready to step in and shut down any violence.
#BikersForTrump say a prayer before #PhoenixRally pic.twitter.com/XSkzbwzGik
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) August 22, 2017
The Phoenix Police Department kept up a strong presence for blocks after the rally ended, ensuring that Trump supporters made it safely to their cars.
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