"Tone down" for what?
Shortly before telling a group of reporters who had asked President Trump to "tone down" his rhetoric that he felt like he had already been "toned down" - and that he felt there was more room for him to "tone it up" instead - Trump incited howls of outrage from liberals and progressive journalists when he chuckled after an audience member shouted "lock him up!" about billionaire George Soros, who was one of more than a dozen people targeted by a flurry of mail bomb scares this week.
Trump met with a "passionate audience" at the White House Young Black Leadership Summit on Thursday. Throughout his speech about globalism and his trade agenda, Trump was repeatedly interrupted by applause, cheers and chants.
And when Trump arrived at a part of his speech where he criticized foreign nations for "cheating our workers," some members of the crowd started calling out "Soros," who has been widely criticized among conservatives for championing progressive, globalist principles with his "Open Society" foundation. One member even shouted "lock him up."
In response, Trump chuckled and repeated the chant himself, saying "Lock him up" and pointing a finger at the audience member who shouted it.
An outpouring of outrage followed, as progressives condemned Trump for allegedly contradicting himself when he had said earlier that "Americans must unify" and "never allow political violence to take root" in response to the spate of bombings this week.
In the graceful state room where Lincoln, FDR and Kennedy lay in repose, where state dinners have been hosted...someone shouted “Soros!” – Someone else shouted: “Lock him up!” Trump did nothing to intervene. Portraits of Washington and Roosevelt looked on. https://t.co/jtPkCfOhSE— Jana Pochop (@janapochop) October 27, 2018
Soros, of course, has criticized Trump on numerous occasions, going so far as to call his administration "a danger to the world" and predicting that the US president won’t get a second term - or might even "disappear" before that, according to the Guardian.
Earlier during his speech, delivered to a crowd full of African Americans wearing "MAGA" hats, Trump praised Kanye West for purportedly helping to improve Trump's approval rating among black Americans by 26 percentage points. Kanye may be "a little different" Trump said - an obvious reference to West's unhinged rant during a White House press conference earlier this month - but he also might be "the most powerful man in politics," Trump said.
Trump also lamented the strict PC culture that has made it socially unacceptable to praise people for their physical appearance - while also promoting "body acceptance" and shaming those who would criticize the overweight or obese. Americans aren't supposed to use words like "beautiful" and "handsome" anymore, Trump said. But that's okay - because he said them anyway.
"I can just look at the incredible beautiful and handsome faces. Today, you’re not allowed to use those terms because they’ll say you’re – but you know what, I’ll use it anyway, beautiful and handsome. Look at all these handsome faces … It’s not politically correct. We have to bring that back into the world of being OK, right?"
Trump also dedicated a few seconds to mocking those who have suggested that his "America First" slogan is racist...
The president mocked critics who suggest "America first" (a phrase close to the heart of white nationalists) could be racist and rallied the audience: "Racist? Racist? Why is that racist?" He rolled the final "r" with special glee. "Here we are, I think, does everyone in this room agree? You’re living in America. America first, right?"
The audience erupted in cheers and chants of “USA! USA!” Trump, smiling and pumping his fist like a strongman, said: "That is really beautiful."
... before adding that his infamous campaign-era remark that black people should vote for him because "what do you have to lose" actually helped him improve his campaign numbers.