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President Trump speaks at Ohio Republican Party state dinner

Posted at 9:31 AM, Aug 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-25 11:31:19-04
(CNN photo)

President Donald Trump was in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday night to speak at the state Republican Party’s annual dinner.

He arrived in Ohio Friday afternoon with First Lady Melania Trump, with the two planning to visit Nationwide Children’s Hospital before the dinner.

Mr. Trump’s speech was relatively tame, and he hit on his favorite talking points. He reiterated his belief that MS-13 gang members are “animals,” despite backlash about those comments.

Mr. Trump’s speech was relatively tame, and he hit on his favorite talking points. He reiterated his belief that MS-13 gang members are “animals,” despite backlash about those comments.

He also brought up the death of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old Iowan found dead this week who was suspected to be killed by an immigrant, saying that voting for Democrats would lead to open borders.

“Open borders equals crime,” Mr. Trump said.

The president also discussed popular topics such as renegotiating NAFTA, NFL players kneeling during the national anthem and the opioid crisis. At times, his stream-of-consciousness style of speaking led him to go on tangents.

While discussing his famous campaign question to African-American voters, when he asked “what the hell do you have to lose” in voting for him, Mr. Trump reflected that now he believes he has support among African-Americans.

“Now we’re doing great, and Kanye West likes me,” Mr. Trump said. “Kanye West has some real power.”

West, a rap star, tweeted his support for Mr. Trump in April.

Mr. Trump criticized the opposition party, saying that he refused to say the ‘Democratic Party’ but instead would say the ‘Democrat Party.’

“I always hate to say the ‘Democrat Party,’ it doesn’t sound good. That’s why I say it,” Mr. Trump said.

He railed on the leaders of the Democratic Party: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Maxine Waters, who Mr. Trump called the “de facto head” of the Democratic Party. Mr. Trump and Waters have been feuding.

Mr. Trump also took up his feud with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said earlier this month that “America was never that great,” and later walked back those comments.

“He used to like me, but then I decided to run for office and now he doesn’t like me too much,” Mr. Trump joked about Cuomo.

Mr. Trump criticized Richard Cordray, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who previously served as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was proposed by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren before she was elected to the Senate.

Cordray is facing current Attorney General Mike DeWine, who has been endorsed by Mr. Trump.

“Mike’s running against a far left candidate, and he was groomed by Pocahontas,” Mr. Trump said about Cordray. The president has often referred to Warren disparagingly as “Pocahontas,” referring to a controversy over whether she has Native American heritage.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Friday that he had instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to travel to North Korea, a trip which had been announced the day before.

The president said that the North Koreans had not “made sufficient progress” with denuclearization.

Meanwhile, the family of one of Mr. Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics, Arizona Sen. John McCain, announced that he would be discontinuing medical treatment for brain cancer. McCain was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July 2017.

Mr. Trump and McCain have had a contentious relationship since then-candidate Trump said in 2015 that McCain was not a war hero because he had been captured and held as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Mr. Trump has also repeatedly criticized McCain for voting against the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

Mr. Trump did not respond to questions about McCain’s decision to discontinue treatment before boarding Air Force One on Friday afternoon.

The event Friday caps a difficult week for Mr. Trump. On Tuesday, his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts including tax fraud, the first major victory by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors in his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Within minutes of Manafort’s guilty verdict, the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight counts, including paying two women just before the election, allegedly at Mr. Trump’s direction,

to stay silent about their claimed affairs with Mr. Trump.

In an interview with Fox & Friends Thursday, Mr. Trump said that “flipping” like Cohen should be “illegal.”

On Friday, Trump Organization chief financial officer Alan Weisselberg, one of the president’s closest private sector confidantes, was granted immunity in connection to the investigation which led to Cohen’s guilty plea. It was also reported Friday that the Manhattan district attorney is opening an investigation into the Trump Organization.