Donald Trump took a victory lap Tuesday night in Ohio, hours after being on the winning side of a legislativeive squeaker that will restart the national debate over Obamacare.
‘You think that’s easy? That’s not easy,’ the president declared as e congratulated the U.S. Senate for moving ‘to begin debating a bill repealing and replacing the Obamacare disaster!’
Minutes later, after a raucous round of ‘CNN sucks!’ cheers brought on by a presidential critique of ‘fake news,’ a more sinister roar floated through a Youngstown arena.
A man holding a pillowcase painted with ‘Trump/Pence Must Go’ shouted at the president from about 20 yards away.
For two full minutes police made their way to the solo demonstrator as fans clawed at his banner. Trump stood silent, watching and furrowing his brow.
At last, with the protester and his banner yanked outside, Trump deadpanned: ‘Where the hell did he come from?’
Donald Trump applauds as he walks across the stage prior to his campaign-style rally in Ohio on Tuesday night
Donald Trump pumps his fist in the air during his speech in Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday night for a few thousands of his fans
The president gives a thumbs up to the camera as Melania smiles while walking behind him at Youngstown’s Covelli Center
Another disruption came in the form of a teenager hoisting a Russian flag to Trump’s right.
‘Boy, he’s a young one!’ Trump marveled after cops dragged him off in handcuffs.
‘He’s going back home to mommy. He’s in trouble. And I’ll bet his mommy voted for us, right?’
Trump’s rhetorical knives were out, slicing through the air as he mocked the news media for parsing his every word.
‘Every president on Mt. Rushmore believed in protecting American industry,’ Trump declared at one point.
But getting through the sentence required a series of twists and turns whose punchline was aimed at the press risers in his direct line of sight.
‘Now here’s what I’d do,’ Trump mused. ‘I’d ask whether or not you think I will someday be on Mt. Rushmore.’
Trump is pictured yelling into his microphone while speaking at a campaign-style rally in Ohio on Tuesday night
A protester is tackled by Trump supporters as a police officer removes him from the rally in Youngstown, Ohio
Donald Trump kisses first lady Melania Trump after she introduced him at the rally on Tuesday night in Youngstown
‘But – no, but here’s the problem,’ he detoured. ‘If I did it joking – totally joking, having fun – the fake news media will say, “He believes he should be on Mt. Rushmore!” So I won’t say it, okay? I won’t say it.’
‘But every president – they’ll say it anyway! You watch, tomorrow: “Trump thinks he should be on Mt. Rushmore! Isn’t that terrible!”
‘What a group,’ the president scolded as about 200 members of the press corps looked on. ‘What a dishonest group of people, I’ll tell you.’
The sixth campaign-style rally of his presidency drew fans from the working-class base that propelled him to the White House.
The billionaire Trump’s presentation was a mashup of the themes that soaked through the last two months of the topsy-turvy 2016 campaign.
‘In America we don’t worship government,’ he said in a Reaganesque flourish. ‘We worship God.’
‘We will never be silenced by the media,’ Trump vowed.
And the president pledged to defend America’s borders. (Cue the shouts of ‘Build that wall!’)
‘Don’t even think about it. We will build the wall!’ he insisted to cheers.
Shortly after starting his speech, Trump turned to the crowd to watch as a protester was taken away during the event
Donald Trump is pictured waiting to be introduced by first lady Melania at a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio
Donald Trump makes a gesture with his hand as he speaks at Youngstown, Ohio, during a rally for his fans on Tuesday night
Trump reiterated his long-term pledges to tilt the North American Free Trade Agreement in America’s favor, to levy reciprocal border tariffs on trading partners and to watchdog Iran as it tiptoes on the edge of compliance with a nuclear deal.
He boasted about efforts to ‘liberate our towns and cities’ from MS-13 and other criminal gangs.
But he earned his most robust applause at the mention of job recovery and household economics.
Trump urged Ohioans to resist any temptation to cut their communities’ losses and sell their houses.
‘Don’t sell!’ he shouted.
‘We’re going to get those values up, and we’re going to get those jobs back, and we’re going to fill those factories – or rip them up and build new ones.’
About 8,000 people responded with a combination of warm applause and venom.
They yelled ‘Lock her up’ and ‘Build that wall’ before Trump took to the stage. They screamed for job-boosting trade deals. They hooted for both stock market records and the resurgence of clean coal.
A young protester is seen being dragged away by a police officer and another agent while Trump was speaking in Youngstown
Prior to being removed by security, the protester waved a Soviet Union flag. Trump supporters tried to block it from the camera with their signs
And Donald Trump’s hard-core backers in northeastern Ohio couldn’t get enough of ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.
Just like the two years’ worth of Trump rally-goers before them, they roared when protesters were led out.
Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, was the first to be interrupted as she warmed up the crowd.
‘I must be special to have a protester already!’ she exclaimed.
And Lara, more than six months pregnant, lectured the media like her husband Eric’s famous father.
As shouts of ‘Fake news’ rose to the rafters, she declared that ‘the same people touting this crazy Russia story are the ones who gave us the fake polls … the same people who said there was no path to victory for Donald Trump.’
Tuesday’s Ohio visit follows similar rallies since Inauguration Day in Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Iowa.
Youngstown’s 5,900-seat Covelli Centre, the president’s venue of choice – supplemented with more than 2,000 floor seats on Tuesday – hosted a Bernie Sanders rally last year. Trump opted for a quick-land rally at the regional airport.
Donald Trump is pictured waving to a crowd after landing at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport on Tuesday afternoon
The president and first lady are pictured together at the top of the stairs on Air Force One shortly after landing in Ohio
One MAGA-fan of the president’s decked out his SUV in American flags and every Trump-themed sticker or sign he could find ahead of Tuesday’s rally
John Lawrence wears a shirt celebrating Trump’s inauguration earlier this year while dancing and waiting for the president to arrive in Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday night
The building, used mostly for hockey games, WWE fights and touring Disney shows, is itself emblematic of the heavily Democratic city’s tortured relationship with Washington.
The late James Traficant represented Youngstown and parts of surrounding counties in Congress from 1985 until 2002, when he was expelled following convictions for taking bribes, racketeering and filing false tax returns.
But the disgraced Traficant, known for his comical wild-animal hairdo, was a reliable procurer of pork for his constituents even as he lined his own pockets.
Two years before he began his seven-year prison term, Traficant secured a $26 million Housing and urban Development grant for his city – money that was used to build Covelli.
It opened in 2005 while he was incarcerated in Allenwood, Pennsylvania – refusing to take visitors and attracting little public support other than a fundraising drive by the white supremacist David Duke.
Trump campaigned hard in northeastern Ohio last year, losing Youngstown’s Mahoning County to Hillary Clinton by three points but improving dramatically on Mitt Romney’s 30-point pasting in 2012.
Trump’s visit to the town was not all smooth sailing, as he was also met by protesters in Youngstown. Pictured is one of the people rallying against the president
Protesters speak out against US President Donald J. Trump before the president arrived at a ‘Make America Great Again’ rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown
Jim Gargan of Akron, Ohio carries signs of protest against Trump before the president arrived in Youngstown for his campaign-style rally on Tuesday
Displaced from jobs and watching their families become casualties of an opioid drug epidemic, voters in depressed rust-belt cities like Youngstown flocked to the brash Republican.
In the end Clinton’s built-in advantage in the Buckeye State’s urban centers could not withstand the charge and Trump beat her statewide by eight points.
The president will need to repeat that performance in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin if he wants a second term in office.
Youngstown’s unemployment still runs above the national average.
The city’s Democratic mayor told CNN this week that Trump’s reputation as a bare-knuckle political fighter has attracted fans from across the aisle.
‘No matter how wild I may think the past six months have been,’ Mayor John McNally said, ‘no matter the tweet storm that went out this morning on a variety of subjects, I think the people in Youngstown and Mahoning County and Trumbull County really appreciate the President’s no-holds-barred mentality toward those who he thinks oppose him.’
A protester carries a sign expressing dissatisfaction with Donald Trump ahead of his visit to Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday
Protesters are seen chanting ahead of Trump’s visit to Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday night for a campaign-style event
Tuesday began with a chaotic staff explosion at the White House as newly minted communications director Anthony Scaramucci threatened to fire ‘everyone’ under his command if press leaks didn’t stop.
Michael Short, an aide tied to outgoing press secretary Sean Spicer, found himself without a chair when Scaramucci’s first scolding record stopped playing.
Trump’s day in Washington ended with a step onto Marine One after holding a press conference with his Lebanese counterpart – just after Senate Republicans delivered an interim victory on health care legislation.
‘We had two Republicans that went against us, which is very sad, I think,’ Trump said in the Rose Garden at the White House.
‘It’s very, very sad – for them.’
After Vice President Mike Pence cast a tiebreaking vote in the procedural Obamacare standoff, Senator John McCain strode to the floor, his 80-year-old forehead still showing the stitched and smarting evidence of brain tumor surgery.
A visibly irritated McCain railed against the dysfunctional partisanship he has watched for decades from his Senate office – and spent the last week observing from a hospital bed.
Donald Trump listens to a Air Force Airmen at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport after landing on Tuesday afternoon
Senator John McCain walks to the senate floor to a vote on the motion to proceed on President Trump’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare
‘I hope we can again rely on humility on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other, learn how to trust each other again, and by so doing better serve the people who elected us,’ he said.
‘Stop listening to the bombastic loud mouths on the radio, television and internet. To hell with them! They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood. Let’s trust each other.’
Lost in the shuffle was a sotry that captivated Washington a day earlier, as the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner sat with House Intelligence Committee staffers to explain his pre-inaugural contacts with Russian nationals.
Monday’s Kushner debriefing, on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol, was the only show in town. By Tuesday it was a footnote.
But the saga over Jeff Sessions’ job security was still gathering steam.
The president threw shade in the direction of the Justice Department for a third straight day, saying he was ‘disappointed’ in his attorney general for recusing himself from Russia-related probes shortly after taking office.
‘I’m very disappointed with the attorney general,’ he said. ‘But we will see what happens. Time will tell.’
By nightfall Sessions was signaling a new level of urgency in the administration’s effort to force so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ into submission by choking off funds to municipalities that shield illegal immigrants from federal agents.
But the media circus got a new blood transfusion: The House of Representatives passed a new anti-Moscow sanctions bill with a veto-proof majority while Air Force One cruised somewhere over Pennsylvania.
The measure will tie Trump’s hands, prohibiting him from easing restrictions put in place against Russian oligarchs and Moscow bankers.