President Trump kicked off his New Hampshire rally on Friday with a rant against the BLM protesters who accosted guests departing his RNC speech at the White House on Thursday night, branding the group ‘thugs’ and ‘agitators’.
Speaking to a crowd of several hundred people at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Trump lashed out at demonstrators who had swarmed Senator Rand Paul, while praising the police officers who brought him to safety.
‘They walked out to a bunch of thugs,’ Trump said as he criticized D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for not doing more to protect his supporters. ‘Unhinged, manic rage. You ought to see it last night in Washington, it was a disgrace.’
Senator Paul on Friday said he was attacked by an ‘angry mob’ of more than 100 people near the White House and had to be rescued by the police.
Trump suggested the four cops involved ‘should be brought over to the White House and be given a medal of some kind.’ ‘We’re gonna do it,’ he said. ‘We’re gonna do it. I told that to Rand today.’
He also accused Mayor Muriel Bowser of giving police ‘bad instructions’ and said she should ‘be ashamed of herself for that kind of display of incompetence.’
The president has emphasized a ‘law and order’ theme to motivate his political base and attract more voters as he trails Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in national polls ahead of the November 3 election.
‘You know what I say? Protesters, your ass. I don’t talk about my ass,’ he said. ‘They’re not protesters. Those aren’t protesters. Those are anarchists, they’re agitators, they’re rioters, they’re looters.’
Senator Paul on Friday called on the FBI to investigate the crowd of demonstrators, saying he believes the group chanting his name and pushing against his impromptu police escort was paid to incite a riot.
He did not say who he believes financially backed them or offer any evidence for his contention.
Paul, his wife and two guests scrapped plans to walk to their hotel near the White House after Trump’s speech to the Republican convention when they saw large crowds demonstrating.
Instead, they rode a bus with others to the Trump International Hotel and then attempted to take an Uber back. When protesters blocked the car, they walked. Demonstrators recognized Paul and immediately drew close. His group then found police for protection.
Video posted online shows a crowd surrounding Paul and his wife and the police. One man yells repeatedly, ‘say her name,’ a reference to Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed by police in March in Kentucky, the state that Paul represents.
One officer appears to use his bicycle to push a protester and stumbles into Paul after the protester shoves him. At no point does it show Paul being physically attacked.
During the campaign event, held one day after accepting the Republican Party’s nomination, the president continued to sow fear about the implications of a Joe Biden victory to voters in battleground states with just over two months until Election Day.
In his convention finale a day earlier, Trump blasted Biden as a hapless career politician who will endanger Americans’ safety.
It marked his latest attempt to frame the general election as a dire choice between two futures for the nation – a theme he was expected to amplify on the campaign trail.
Trump said he directed White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to study how to call in the National Guard to the nation’s capital.
Trump previously ordered federal troops to D.C. in May amid protests over the killing of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police.
‘We’re not supposed to go in unless we call it an insurrection, and that’s a big statement,’ Trump said.
‘But you know what we’re going to do. … We’re going to have to look at it because we’re not going to let that happen to people that go to the White House to celebrate our country.’
New protests erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week after police officers shot Jacob Blake, another African-American man, multiple times in front of his children. Blake survived but was left paralyzed.
Thousands of people took part in a march in Washington on Friday to denounce racism.
Trump has not commented extensively about Blake, but he spoke extensively about protesters on Friday without specifying which demonstration he was talking about.
Trump said the protesters were ‘anarchists,’ adding: ‘They’re just looking for trouble. Has nothing to do with George Floyd. Has nothing to do with anything. They don’t even know who George Floyd is.’
‘The agitators will go from rioting in the streets to running the halls of government,’ he added, saying voters needed to support him to ‘save democracy from the mob.’
‘No one will be safe in Biden’s America,’ he added.
‘We are all that stand between the American people and the left wing mob,’ he said. ‘If you want to save democracy from the mob, then you must vote to defeat an extremely poor candidate.’
To cheers and laughter, Trump, 74, described 77-year-old Biden as ‘weak’ and ‘the worst candidate ever put up by the Democratic party.’
Speaking in New Hampshire, a state he lost in 2016 by fewer than 2,000 votes and is a top pickup opportunity for him in 2020, Trump repeated unfounded allegations that thousands of voters were bused into the state from neighboring Massachusetts four years ago.
He also launched a new attack on Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, speculating on the possibility that she could assume the presidency from the 78-year-old Biden.
‘You know I want to see the first woman president also, but I don’t want to see a woman president get into that position the way she’d do it, and she’s not competent,’ Trump said. ‘She’s not competent.’
He suggested his own daughter, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, as a more suitable occupant for the Oval Office.
Trump departed the White House by motorcade Friday, requiring it to weave through District of Columbia streets packed with demonstrators participating in a commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The motorcade made it to Joint Base Andrews without incident. Isolated groups of protesters on street corners made their presence felt through gestures directed at the motorcade.
While the coronavirus kills 1,000 Americans each day, Trump defied his own administration’s pandemic guidelines on Thursday to speak for more than an hour to a tightly packed, largely mask-less crowd.
In New Hampshire, a campaign advisory said masks for attendees are ‘required’ in accordance with Republican Governor Chris Sununu’s executive orders, and would be provided.
Similar indoor-outdoor rallies at aircraft hangars in recent weeks have seen limited compliance with face covering mandates. The event format has become the Trump campaign’s go-to amid the pandemic.
Before Trump arrived, many in the crowd did not put their masks back on after singing the national anthem. They later booed when a campaign staffer called on them to do so.
‘This is a peaceful protest,’ read official signs handed out by the Trump campaign, echoing a rationale Trump has used to violate local ordinances and contrast his political events with racial justice protests sweeping the nation.
Trump is anxious for a return to normal activities and complained on the way to New Hampshire about the state of the college football season.
In the Big Ten conference, coaches and medical personnel are working on multiple plans for staging a football season – including one that would have the league kicking off during the Thanksgiving weekend.
The conference is filled with teams from battleground states that will prove critical in the upcoming election.
‘No, I want Big Ten, and all other football, back – NOW,’ Trump tweeted. ‘The Dems don’t want football back, for political reasons, but are trying to blame me and the Republicans. Another LIE, but this is what we are up against! ‘
Trump’s pace of travel is expected to pick up to a near-daily pace. Biden, who has largely weathered the pandemic from his Delaware home, announced Thursday that he will soon resume limited campaign travel.
Trump mocked Biden’s announcement, saying: ‘Today it was announced that Joe Biden is coming out of the basement,’ and said it was ‘because the poll numbers have totally swung.’
Trump last attempted to visit New Hampshire six weeks ago, when he called off a trip on the eve of a scheduled campaign rally citing the threat from a tropical storm – but also as his campaign worried that attendance would be sparse amid a nationwide surge in virus cases.
That rally was to have been Trump’s first since his embarrassing return to the campaign trail in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June, where he spoke to a half-empty arena and an anticipated overflow crowd never materialized.
Biden expects his in-person campaign travel to pick up after Labor Day on September 7, telling lawyers at an online fundraising event on Thursday he was considering traveling to battleground states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Arizona.