WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump delivered a mostly standard stump speech during a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday night – though he deviated in a few key respects.
Speaking before a cheering crowd at Broadmoor World Arena, the president touted the robust U.S. economy, slammed the state for its immigration policies and touted the trade deals he has signed with Mexico, Canada and several other countries.
Trump is on a four-day swing of western states, scooping up campaign cash and holding a nightly rally.
Trump offered the crowd in Colorado a few new lines:
He went after the Oscars, questioning why the Academy gave its Best Picture award to "Parasite," a South Korean film. He also fired back at actor Brad Pitt, calling him a “little wise guy” for an acceptance speech in which he joked about the Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Trump repeatedly suggested that Colorado, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016, was not only in play but that Republicans would win the state in a “landslide.” Colorado has gone Democratic in the last three presidential elections. Still, Trump campaign aides believe they have a decent shot there, depending on the Democratic nominee.
Finally, the president used his rally to expand on his criticism of the Democratic presidential debate that took place the night before. He trained most of his first on former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who he described as “mini Mike” asserted that he was ”not doing well.”
The rally weighed in at 98 minutes.
-- John Fritze
Trump: Easy to be presidential
President Donald Trump went off on his standard riff about being presidential – but added a new twist: His suit jacket.
“It’s easy to be presidential,” Trump said, drawing a comparison between his unconventional approach to the White House with his predecessors.
“Never open your jacket!”
Trump buttoned his suit jacket and walked stiffy around on the stage in Colorado as the crowd cheered. The president added, as he often does, that if he acted presidential no one would listen to him because they’d be bored.
“It’s great to be with the people of Colorado,” Trump said in a mock politician’s voice. “Thank you, everybody. Good night.”
-- John Fritze
Trump: 'It looks like Bernie, doesn't it?'
It sounded like President Donald Trump predicted Thursday he will face off against Bernie Sanders in the general election this fall.
"It looks like Bernie, doesn't it?" Trump said at one point during his rally in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Crazy Bernie."
This could be wishful thinking on the president's part. Trump and aides have said they would love to run against Sanders, believing his "socialist agenda" would be easy to defeat.
Sanders and his backers say Trump should be careful what he wishes for. They argue that Sanders' support among young people, combined with the Democratic desire to defeat Trump, will pave the way to victory.
– David Jackson
Trump touts Cory Gardner on stage
President Donald Trump brought several guests on stage during his rally, including incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. Gardner is facing a tough reelection campaign in the state this year, but the audience wouldn’t know it from his remarks.
“We are going to win. We are going to win because we believe in Colorado,” Gardner said.
Gardner used his stage time to take a swing at Sen. Bernie Sanders, the presumptive front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Though Trump often feigns sympathy for Sanders and the insider forces within the Democratic Party he claims are attempting to “steal” the nomination from the Vermont Senator.
Gardner took a different approach, telling the crowd that a “dangerous” shift in politics happened in 2016 when Sanders ushered in the “normalization of socialism.”
-- John Fritze
Protesters removed from rally
The crowd chanted “four more years” as Trump walked away from the podium while protesters were being removed from the stadium.
According to reporters in the stadium, seven protesters chanted “lock him up.”
“That was quick, that was quick,” Trump stated after they were removed, raising his eyebrows in their direction.
Seven protesters began chanting "lock him up" during Trump's rally here in Colorado Springs, Colorado.— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) February 21, 2020
They were quickly & peacefully escorted out by campaign security
“She goes home to mom,” he joked. “Her mother’s a big supporter. She’ll ask, 'Was that you in that big stadium?'”
“She’ll have trouble at home with mom and dad,” he continued.
Earlier in the night, Trump alluded that it was unsafe for protestors at his rallies.
- Savannah Behrmann
Trump: 'Don't believe polls' (he's behind in many of them)
President Donald Trump is confident he will win re-election, though many polls show him even with – and in some cases losing to – most of his potential Democratic challengers.
Trump's solution to that is simple.
"Don't believe polls," he told supporters at his rally in Colorado Springs.
At least the ones that show him trailing.
Earlier in the evening, Trump recited poll after poll that showed him winning the Republican presidential debates back in 2016.
Current polls that show him trailing in states like Colorado are to be discounted, Trump said.
"We're leading," he said.
– David Jackson
Trump attacks news media - including Fox
As usual, President Donald Trump attacked the news media during his rally in Colorado Springs.
Less usual: He attacked Fox News.
"Fox doesn't treat us the way they used to," Trump told the crowd.
While Trump praised individual Fox hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, he spent a lot of time at the Colorado Springs rally attacking a Fox News segment in which a commentator criticized his debate performances back in 2016.
"I won every one of them," Trump said in defending his debate performances.
While he used to describe Fox as his favorite news network, Trump has increasingly attacked the network in recent months - on Twitter.
It's rare to hear him attack Fox - at length - at a rally.
"Again," he said, "it's not the same."
Fox pushed back on Trump’s criticisms, particularly his criticism of business anchor Neil Cavuto.
Cavuto “is a fair person, a fair guy,” said Fox Business Network host Trish Regan.
- David Jackson
Trump slams Oscars, Brad Pitt
President Donald Trump, a former reality star who often talks about lackluster television ratings, took a jab at the big screen on Thursday in a new line of attack against the Oscars.
“How bad were the Academy Awards?!” Trump said to applause from supporters at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The president’s complaint: The fact that Parasite, a South Korean black comedy thriller, was selected for Best Picture. Trump said the Academy should have chosen an American film, instead.
“We’ve got enough problems with South Korea,” Trump said, citing trade disputes with Seoul. Trump signed a new trade agreement with South Korea in 2018, but has frequently said the country needs to do more to reimburse Washington for the huge presence of U.S. military along the border with North Korea.
Trump didn’t hold his tongue on individual actors, either. He went after Brad Pitt in particular, who won best supporting actor this year for his role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. During his acceptance speech, Pitt cracked a joke about the president’s impeachment trial.
"They told me I only have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week," said Pitt, referencing the former national security adviser who was not allowed to testify by the Senate during the proceedings that acquitted Trump.
Trump responded Thursday by describing Pitt as a “little wise guy.”
-- John Fritze
Trump slams performance of Democrats during debate
President Trump touched on Wednesday’s feisty Democratic debate during his rally Thursday.
He demeaned “Mini Mike” Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, for “not doing well.”
“I was going to send him a note saying, ‘It’s not easy doing what I do, is it?’”
Bloomberg was pressed hard by his 2020 Democratic rivals over his fortune, past comments about women, and the stop-and-frisk policy in New York.
"I'd like to talk about who we’re running against," Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren quipped at one point Wednesday. "A billionaire who calls women 'fat broads' and 'horse-faced lesbians,' and no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg."
Trump continued to rail against Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, declaring that she “choked” on the debate stage. The president continued to mimic her choking at the podium.
“She couldn’t breathe!” Trump acted out, continuing to rail against her for a tense moment with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The strained exchange between Buttigieg and Klobuchar was in response to a question about Klobuchar’s failure to recall the name of the president of Mexico in a previous interview. She demurred it as “momentary forgetfulness” during Wednesday’s debate.
Buttigieg pushed back that Klobuchar was “staking” her candidacy on “Washington experience” and it was wrong for her to forget the name when she is “literally in the part of the committee that’s overseeing these things.”
Klobuchar defended herself, asking Buttigieg if he had called her dumb.
“Who would say something like that?” Trump puzzled about the exchange, continuing that he thought that moment was “the end of her campaign, in my book.”
Landslide? Trump talks optimistically about Colorado, but it has been a Democratic state
President Donald Trump told supporters in Colorado Springs he will carry the Rocky Mountain state in November, but recent history says it will be an uphill battle.
Colorado has gone Democratic in the last three presidential elections, including Hillary Clinton's 5 point victory over Trump in 2016.
Still, Trump campaign aides believe they have a decent shot, depending on who the Democratic candidate is.
And Trump himself, of course, exuded nothing but confidence.
"We are going to win Colorado in a landslide," he told the cheering crowd.
- David Jackson
Trump honoring World War II vets at rally
For the second night in a row, President Donald Trump is using the opening moments of his rally to honor World War II veterans. Trump noted that this week marks the 75th anniversary of the battle for Iowa Jima.
“It was a rough one,” Trump said of the battle, before noting that three veterans of the fight were attending the rally.
During his rally in Arizona on Wednesday, Trump honored a 100-year-old Navy veteran of World War II who was carried to his seat ahead of the president’s remarks.
“I don’t know if he knows it but he’s, right now, the hottest celebrity in the world," Trump said. "He might even be hotter than Trump right now, I have to say."
On Feb. 19, 1945, U.S. Marines launched an amphibious invasion on Iwo Jima, Japan, kicking off one of the war's pivotal battles.
Trump took the stage at 7:25 p.m., a bit behind the scheduled start time. He started speaking two minutes later.
- John Fritze
Trump talks Space Force with Colorado governor
President Donald Trump hasn’t even taken the stage for his Colorado rally, but Space Force is already in the news.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who met with the president aboard Air Force One, said in a statement that he urged Trump to make Colorado the permanent home of U.S. Space Command headquarters.
Polis, a Democrat, said noted that the state is already home to multiple space-related installations. Colorado Springs is also home to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“Colorado is the perfect home for Space Command and I was excited to have the opportunity to remind President Trump why that’s true,” Polis said in a statement.
Space Force, which Trump launched last year, generally wins large applause lines at Trump’s rallies.
“I have achieved more than I promised,” Trump told a rally crowd last month in New Jersey. “I never told you about Space Force; we got Space Force!”
-- John Fritze and Trevor Hughes
Trump touches down in Colorado
Air Force One touched down at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs shortly 5 p.m. EST. He had a meeting on board the plane with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis before getting into his motorcade, the White House said.
The rally is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. EST
Trump engaged in a little debate talk with supporters who greeted him at the airport.
The president asked one of the assembled supporters how he thought New York Michael Bloomberg did in the debate.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Trump said.
“You won that debate, sir!” another one shouted.
-- David Jackson and John Fritze
Trump adds South Carolina rally to packed schedule
President Donald Trump’s campaign has added another rally to his schedule: A South Carolina event that will take place on the eve of that state’s primary election.
Underscoring the it’s-getting-real nature of the president’s election-year schedule, Trump scheduled three rallies this week: The Colorado event for tonight, a Phoenix rally that took place Wednesday and Las Vegas for Friday.
He now has booked a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 28 and Charlotte, N.C., on the night before Super Tuesday.
Trump was last in the Palmetto State for a criminal justice reform event in October -- and he last took a rally stage there in 2018.
- John Fritze
Trump talks Stone ahead of rally
Before departing for Colorado, President Donald Trump spoke to a prisoner graduation ceremony in Las Vegas – and signaled he would not immediately pardon his friend and longtime ally Roger Stone.
“I’m going to watch the process, I’m going to watch it very closely,” Trump said hours after Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress and obstructing the Russia investigation.
“And at some point I will make a determination,” Trump said.
Trump said that “everybody has to be treated fairly. And this has not been a fair process."
The president’s past remarks on Stone – and his recent tweets – have added to speculation that a pardon is in the works. Trump is on a campaign swing in western states this week.
“I’d love to see Roger Stone exonerated,” Trump added.
- John Fritze and Michael Collins
Huge crowd lines up in near-freezing temps
Thousands of supporters, many in red Trump-branded shirts or hats, waited in the near-freezing temperature for the Colorado Springs rally to begin. A large screen played campaign advertisements and videos telling his supporters that only Trump can be trusted to make the right decisions for Americans.
Scattered chants of “lock her up” and “four more years” broke out periodically in the hours before the president arrived, and dozens of merchants sold flags, stickers and knit Trump hats as a “voter registration strike force” circulated, clipboards in hand.
Attendees said they came to pay respects to the president they credit with strengthening our economy and borders, and supporting the military, a popular cause in this city home to Fort Carson, the Cheyenne Mountain doomsday facility, and Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases.
“The economy, for sure, and security and the border, too,” said Kathy Hodge, 59, a civilian security guard at one of the bases, of her support for the president. “But jobs, jobs and jobs.”
A video repeatedly reminded attendees that as a private event, protesters are not allowed inside, and that anyone who interrupts the president should be surrounded by supporters yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump.”
Many attendees rejected the idea that Republicans and the president are racist, instead arguing that political correctness has just gone too far.
“I don’t care about the rhetoric. He’s doing what I put my confidence in,” said Rick Bowhay, 61. “I think it’s time for Americans to stand up and not take this pablum, puking political correctness they keep trying to slide us into. I am proud of my heritage and my country.”
Bowhay, who is unemployed and living in a nearby shelter, said he attended the rally to show support for the president’s actions. He said thought it was important for conservatives like him to show their support for the president at a time when he believes Democrats are trying to buy votes from African-Americans by talking about offering reparations for the country‘s history of slavery.
“I was all for equality until the Democrats and the socialists came to me and said we have to pay them back. It’s just all about the votes,” he said. ”They’re trying to flip the script so that we become dependent on the government. And this country was founded on freedom.”
- Trevor Hughes
Trump headed to Colorado
WASHINGTON – President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will speak at a “Keep America Great” rally in Colorado Springs, the home turf of evangelical Christians who make up an important part of his political base. The rally starts at 7 p.m. ET at the Broadmoor World Arena.
Colorado Springs may be friendly territory for Trump, but the state is expected to once again be an important battleground in this year’s presidential contest. Trump lost Colorado to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points in 2016.
Trump will be joined on stage by Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican who is facing a difficult re-election. Gardner voted to acquit Trump after his Senate impeachment trial earlier this month, a decision that earned him kudos from Trump but one that Democrats will use to throttle him in his upcoming race.
The Colorado Springs rally comes on the third day of a four-day swing through western states in which Trump is mixing campaign stops with official White House events.
Trump tried to steal the spotlight Wednesday by staging a rally in Phoenix at the same time Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination were debating in Las Vegas. He has scheduled another rally for Friday in Las Vegas on the eve of Nevada’s presidential caucuses.
What happens in Vegas...: Bloomberg attacked, Warren fights back, Sanders holds steady: How each candidate fared in a rowdy debate
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump campaign: President to rally supporters in Colorado Springs