It was back to "campaign Trump" last night in Harrisburg, PA.
Donald Trump celebrated his 100th day in office on Saturday by holding a "freewheeling campaign-style rally", touting the accomplishments of his first three plus months in office, ignoring the disappointments, and once again slamming the media. Trump held the rally with supporters as a contrast to the annual White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner, an annual star-studded gala in Washington that presidents typically attend.
"I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington's swamp, spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people," Trump said, calling out The New York Times, CNN and MSNBC by name.
Speaking shortly after his WaPo op-ed hit, touting what in his own words were his biggest accomplishments, Trump said "my administration has been delivering every single day for the great citizens of our country. We are keeping one promise after another, and frankly the people are really happy about it."
While Trump told the Pennsylvania crowd he was just getting started on meeting his campaign promises, he repeatedly attacked an "incompetent, dishonest" media, saying they were not telling the truth about his administration's accomplishments. "If the media’s job is to be honest and to tell the truth, then I think we would all agree the media deserves a very, very big, fat failing grade," he said.
"A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation’s capital right now," Trump said to loud boos from the crowd. "If the media's job is to be honest and to tell the truth, the media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade."
Trump and his staff chose to skip the press dinner because of what he said was unfair treatment by the press. Trump said he was thrilled to be away from the "Washington swamp".
Focusing on his tenure in the White House, Trump listed what he said were some of his key early accomplishments, including the successful confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court of Justice Neil Gorsuch and clearing away many regulations on the environment and business according to Reuters. He also listed his approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, killing a pending Asian trade pact, and enhanced security measures that have led to a sharp decline in illegal border crossings at the southern border.
"The world is getting the message: if you try to illegally enter the United States, you will be caught, detained, deported or put in prison," Trump said.
At the same time, he shrugged off his more prominent failures on his core campaign promises, such as repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and construction of a Mexican border wall. Trump's ban on visitors from some Muslim nations was blocked in court.
He blamed Democrats for the legislative failures so far and said all of his promises would be kept eventually. "We'll build the wall, people, don't even worry about it," he said.
Trump also took direct aim at Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, accusing him of leading the Democratic Party "to doom."
"Sen. Schumer is bad leader," Trump said. "I've known him a long time. Sen. Schumer is a bad leader. Not a natural leader at all. He works hard to study leadership. When you have to study leadership, you've got problems.... Sen. Schumer is weak on crime and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. He is a poor leader – known him a long time – and he's leading the Democrats to doom."
On Sunday morning, Trump continued his assault on Democrats tweeting "The Democrats, without a leader, have become the party of obstruction.They are only interested in themselves and not in what's best for U.S"
The Democrats, without a leader, have become the party of obstruction.They are only interested in themselves and not in what's best for U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2017
He also said Obamacare, while seemingly stuck in Congress due to the Republican failure to get enough votes to repeal it, "is dead."
You can't compare anything to ObamaCare because ObamaCare is dead. Dems want billions to go to Insurance Companies to bail out donors....New— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2017
...healthcare plan is on its way. Will have much lower premiums & deductibles while at the same time taking care of pre-existing conditions!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2017
Trump also said he floped on his promise to name China a currency manipulator because he wanted its help in trying to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile development. In an excerpt of an interview with "Face the Nation" of CBS, set to air on Sunday and Monday and conducted during the trip to Pennsylvania, Trump said he would "not be happy" if North Korea conducted a nuclear test. Asked if that would mean military action, Trump said "I don't know, I mean we'll see."
Trump left Washington as another in a series of protests against his administration was winding up. Thousands of marchers made their way through Washington's streets during the People's Climate March, a protest against Trump's moves to roll back environmental regulations. Asked by reporters accompanying him to Pennsylvania what he had to say to the climate change protesters, Trump said: "Enjoy the day, enjoy the weather."
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Meanwhile, back in DC, the White House press corps gathered for its annual black-tie dinner, a toned-down affair this year after Donald Trump snubbed the event, becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to bow out in 36 years, according to Reuters.
Without Trump, who scheduled a rally instead to mark his 100th day in office, the usually celebrity-filled soiree hosted by the White House Correspondents' Association took a more sober turn, even as it pulled in top journalists and Washington insiders.
Most of Trump's administration also skipped the event in solidarity with the president, who has repeatedly accused the press of mistreatment. The president used his campaign-style gathering to again lambaste the media.
While Trump was bashing the press in Harrisburg, in Washington, WHCA President Jeff Mason defended press freedom even as he acknowledged this year's dinner had a different feel, saying attempts to undermine the media was dangerous for democracy. "We are not fake news, we are not failing news organizations and we are not the enemy of the American people," said Reuters' correspondent Mason.
Instead of the typical roasts, where presidents of both parties have delivered their own zingers for years, the event returned to its traditional roots of recognizing reporters' work and handing out student scholarships as famed journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein presented awards.
"That's not Donald Trump's style," NBC News' Andrea Mitchell told MSNBC, referring to the self-deprecating jokes presidents in the past have made despite tensions with the press.
The humor at the WHCA event fell to headline comedian Hasan Minhaj.
"Welcome to the series finale of the White House correspondents' dinner," Minhaj, who plays a correspondent on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" program, told the crowd.
He also joked about Trump, despite organizers' wishes, saying he did so to honor U.S. constitutional protection of free speech: "Only in America can a first-generation, Indian-American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president." Some more highlights courtesy of The Hill:
"I get it, I get it. We got to address the elephant that's not in the room.The leader of our country is not here. And that's because he lives in Moscow. It is a very long flight. It would be hard for [Russian President Vladimir Putin] to make it."
"As for the other guy, I think he's in Pennsylvania because he can't take a joke."
"He tweets at 3 a.m. sober. Who is tweeting at 3 a.m. sober? Donald Trump – because it's 10 a.m. in Russia. Those are business hours."
It wasn't only Trump on the receiving end of Minhaj's roast. The comedian also took aim at several media outlets, including C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.
"It's almost as if 'The Daily Show' should be on C-SPAN," he said of the Comedy Central show's frequent jokes about the Trump administration. "It has left zero impact."
Minhaj also took a jab at former President Barack Obama, who did not attend the dinner but was present each year while he was office.
"Who would have thought with everything going on in the country right now that a Muslim would be standing on this stage for a ninth year in a row, baby," Minhaj joked, a reference to unfounded accusations that Obama is a Muslim.
"We had eight years of Barack. What's another year? I see you fam, I see you Barry. What you doin' right now? You jet skiing while the world burns?"
Few other celebrities graced the red carpet, although some well-known Washingtonians, such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California, appeared. In an interview with Reuters this week, Trump said he decided against attending as president because he felt he had been treated unfairly by the media, adding: "I would come next year, absolutely."