President Donald Trump on Tuesday headed to a Shell petrochemicals plant being built outside Pittsburgh to give what was billed by the White House as a speech on “America’s Energy Dominance and Manufacturing Revival.”
But the hourlong address was light on energy policy and heavy on stump speech material and off-script riffs, as Trump touched on everything from his love of trucks to his assessment of his potential 2020 rivals. The meandering speech came on a day when the president had already attacked a CNN anchor, endorsed a controversial World Series hero’s potential congressional bid and defended his parroting of a conspiracy theory concerning the apparent suicide of his onetime friend Jeffrey Epstein.
Here are some of Trump's most off-key comments:
On the supposed benefits of natural gas over renewable energy: “When the wind stops blowing, it doesn’t make any difference does it? Unlike those big windmills that destroy everybody’s property values, kill all the birds. One day the environmentalists are going to tell us what’s going on with that. And then all of a sudden it stops. The wind and the televisions go off. And your wives and husbands say: ‘Darling, I want to watch Donald Trump on television tonight. But the wind stopped blowing and I can’t watch. There’s no electricity in the house, darling.'”
On his construction chops: “I was a good builder. I built good. I love building; in fact, I’m going to take a tour of the site.”
On doing some campaigning: “I’m going to speak to some of your union leaders to say, ‘I hope you’re going to support Trump, OK?’ And if they don’t, vote ‘em the hell out of office because they’re not doing their job — it’s true.”
On his love of trucks: “I love cranes, I love trucks of all types. Even when I was a little boy at 4 years old, my mother would say, 'You love trucks.' I do, I always loved trucks, I still do. Nothing changes — sometimes you know you might become president, but nothing changes — I still love trucks. Especially when I look at the largest crane in the world, that’s very cool. You think I’ll get to operate it? We’ll put the media on it and I’ll give them a little ride, right?”
On pundits suggesting he might not leave office willingly: “Can you imagine if I got a fair press? I mean, we’re leading without it; can you imagine if these people treated me fairly? The election would be over. Have they ever called off an election before? Just said, 'Look just let’s go, go on four more years.' You want to really drive them crazy? Go to #ThirdTerm, #FourthTerm — you’ll drive them totally crazy.”
On what Trump perceives as a trade imbalance with Japan: “They send us thousands and thousands — millions of cars, we send them wheat. Wheat. That’s not a good deal. And they don’t even want our wheat. They do it because they want us to at least feel that we’re OK, you know, they do it to make us feel good.” This assertion is false.
On the price tag of the presidency: “This thing is costing me a fortune, being president. Somebody said, 'Oh, he might have rented a room to a man from Saudi Arabia for $500.' What about the $5 billion that I'll lose — you know, it’s probably going to cost me, including, upside, downside, lawyers, because every day they sue me for something. These are the most litigious people. It’s probably costing me from $3 to $5 billion for the pleasure of being — and I couldn't care less, I don’t care. You know if you’re wealthy, it doesn't matter. I just want to do a great job.”
On his pledge to salvage manufacturing jobs: “You guys, I don’t know what the hell you’re going to do. You don’t want to make widgets, right? You don’t want to make — do you want to learn how to make a computer? A little tiny piece of stuff. ... You put it with those big, beautiful hands of yours like … you’re going to take these big hands, going to take this little tiny part. You’re going to go home, ‘Alice this is a tough job.’ Nah, you want to make steel, and you want to dig coal — that’s what you want to do!”
On the number of members of the media at the event, at about 2:45 p.m.: “That’s a lot people back there for, like, an 11 o’clock speech. That’s a lot of people.”
On the Oscars: “Like the Academy Awards during the day, it used to be — you know the Academy Awards is on hard times now, you know that right? Nobody wants to watch it. You know why? Because they started taking us on, everyone got tired of it. It’s amazing. That used to be second after the Super Bowl, and then all of a sudden now it’s just another show because people got tired of people getting up and making fools of themselves and disrespecting the people in this room and the people that won the election in 2016.”
On attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, potential 2020 rivals: “I did it very early with Pocahontas, I should have probably waited. She's staging a comeback on Sleepy Joe. I don't know who's going to win, but we'll have to hit Pocahontas very hard again if she does win. But she’s staging a little bit of a comeback. What a group — Pocahontas and Sleepy Joe.”
On Mexico deploying soldiers to stem the flow of Central American migrants: “I want to thank Mexico, it’s incredible. We have close to 27,000, you think of that. We never had three — I think we had about 2½ soldiers, one was sitting down all the time. We had nobody.”