Donald Trump hailed a very productive first 100 days as America’s president on Saturday, telling a roaring crowd of supporters other great battles ahead would be won.
In an hour-long speech Trump lambasted the media and predecessor Barack Obama, boasted of his support for US industry and the military, and vaunted his foreign policy positions, including on confronting North Korea, earning cheers from the crowd in Pennsylvania.
The president held the campaign-style rally – in a state that helped tip the election in his favour – while snubbing a traditional White House correspondents’ dinner taking place late on Saturday, where he had risked being roasted by comedians.
The president sneered at “fake news” CNN and the “failing” New York Times. “They are a disgrace,” he said. The black-tie affair in Washington was headlined by veteran investigative journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who gained fame in the Watergate scandal that prompted the resignation of former president Richard Nixon.
In his speech, Trump presented his record so far, including the signing of many executive orders, as very exciting and very productive, despite what he described as the mess left by Obama’s administration.
“We are keeping one promise after another,” he said. He was preparing for “the great, great battles to come and that we will win in every case”.
Trump also highlighted his tough approach to immigration.
Stepped-up law enforcement was removing drug dealers, gang members and killers from the country, he said, while reinforced vetting was keeping America safe from terrorism.
“We are going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country,” he said, to applause and cheers of “USA! USA!” He vowed “we’ll have the wall” on the border with Mexico.
On foreign policy, he admitted he had backed down on a vow to label China a currency manipulator, but said flexibility was needed because Chinese President Xi Jinping was a good man who was trying to help Trump rein in North Korea.
Later on Saturday the White House announced that Trump, in a “friendly” call, invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte – who has drawn international condemnation for his deadly drug war – to Washington.
At his rally Trump said the US economy had surged since he took office.
On the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he has vowed to renegotiate, he said: “If we can’t make a fair deal for our companies and our workers we will terminate Nafta.”
Other trade deals allowing nations like China, Russia and India to contribute to the theft and plunder of American wealth were being torn up, Trump said.
He spoke of his plans to reform US taxes and swore that health care legislation brought in by Obama that gives greater medical access to Americans was dying and would be repealed.- AFP