Before heading to Iowa on Tuesday, President Donald Trump stopped to take questions – LOTS of them – from the press corps outside the White House. In his now-characteristic fashion, Trump prowled up and down the line of reporters – picking people at random to ask him something. And ask they did.
The transcript of the whole thing was released Wednesday morning. I went through it and pulled out the, uh, best(?) lines. They’re below.
1. “This group gets bigger and bigger. This is a big group by any standard. This is like the Academy Awards used to be before they went political.”
Trump is talking here about the number of reporters waiting for him and wanting to ask questions. And yes, of course, he a) notices and b) cares. For all his rhetoric about the “fake news,” no president has ever cared more about the media and how it covers him than this one. Oh, also, FYI: The Academy Awards are still good! And away we go!
2. “We’ll have absolutely no problem at the border. We’ll clean it up very quickly.”
Well, I’m satisfied! What’s next?
3. “I mean, look, Joe never got more than 1%, except Obama took him off the trash heap, and now it looks like he’s failing.”
4. “I have to tell you, he’s a different guy. He looks different than he used to. He acts different than he used to. He’s even slower than he used to be.”
That dog whistle you hear is the President of the United States trying to put questions about Biden’s age’s (he’s 76) and health into peoples’ minds.
5. “My poll numbers are great.”
Gallup’s latest weekly tracking poll puts Trump’s job approval at 40% while 55% disapprove. His job approval has never been at or above 50% during his presidency. So, yeah.
6. “The crime was by the Democrats, folks. They’ve committed, in my opinion, many crimes.”
In any normal presidency, this would be a news story for a week. The President of the United States accusing the opposition party of committing “many crimes”!??! Without evidence, to boot! But because Trump says things like this – again, with zero evidence – all the time, it barely causes a ripple.
7. “My poll numbers have been very, very good.”
“Mr. Trump is the only president in the history of Gallup polling never to earn the support of a majority of Americans even for a single day of his term. His approval rating in Gallup has stayed within a 10-point band of 35 percent to 45 percent throughout his presidency.” – The New York Times
8. “I think [Biden is] the weakest, mentally. And I like running against people that are weak, mentally.”
9. “The farmers are my best friend.”
So Trump says the farmers are his best friend. But do the farmers say the same about him? Or do they have, like, another other best friend Trump doesn’t even know about? On a related note: We can all agree the farmer and the cowman should be friends.
10. “Nobody has treated the farmers better than Donald Trump.”
Nobody uses third person more than Donald Trump. Trust Chris Cillizza on this one.
11. “But here’s the agreement. It’s a very simple agreement. This is one page. This is one page of a very long and very good agreement for both Mexico and the United States.”
This is a literal cornucopia of oddness from Trump. First, he pulls out a sheet of paper to show reporters and touts that this is the secret part of the deal with Mexico on tariffs (a “secret” that Mexico says doesn’t exist.) Second, he says the agreement is “very simple” and “one page” before immediately adding that the agreement is “very long.” What is happening? [head explodes]
12. “So, Mexico, we’re getting along with them great.”
13. “I just give you my word inside here. And I would love to do it. But you will freeze-action it. You will stop it. You will analyze it. Every single letter you’ll see.”
Trump is talking about the single sheet of folded paper again. You know the “very simple” but also “very long” and did I mention secret part of the Mexico trade deal that Mexico says doesn’t exist.
14. “They are guilty of many crimes. Many, many crimes – what they’ve done. They’re guilty of many, many crimes.”
Yes, you mentioned that before. Can I raise a practical question at this point? Do you have any actual evidence of these “many, many crimes?”
15. “So right here is the agreement. It’s very simple. It’s right here. And in here is everything you want to talk about. Done. It’s done. It’s done. It’s all done.”
He said all of this while, yes, still holding the paper that contains the secret agreement. That is both simple and complex. Short but also long. And with a secret agreement that Mexico says doesn’t exist.
16. “Joe Biden thought that China was not a competitor of ours.”
True! Here’s what Biden said last month in Iowa: “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man! … They’re not competition for us.”
17. “[Nancy Pelosi] made a horrible statement while I was with the Queen of England, while I was with – while I was with the President of France. And you’re not supposed to do that. OK?”
The “horrible statement” was that Pelosi reportedly told her Democratic colleagues that she didn’t want to see Trump impeached, she wanted to see him “in prison.” Also, it’s beyond ironic that Trump is citing protocols of how politicians should act here. I thought he was “modern day presidential”?
18. “Companies are leaving China right now and they’re coming here because they don’t want to pay the tariffs. And they’re going to other countries.”
Companies are leaving China. But experts say those moves pre-date Trump’s tariffs.
19. “I’ve created something – what we’ve done in the last two and a half years, we’ve picked up $14 trillion in net worth of the United States.”
20. “I won Iowa by a lot the last time. Usually a Republican would not win it by that much.”
This is true! Trump won Iowa by 9 points in 2016. Republicans hadn’t won the state at the presidential level prior to that since 2004 when George W. Bush eked out a win over John Kerry by .6 percentage points.
21. “I have a great relationship with the farmers. I have a great relationship with everybody.”
So, are the farmers still your best friend? Or is this “everybody” the new thing?
22. “Iowa, I think, is going to be something that we win very easily.”
Trump’s job approval rating in Iowa for all of 2018 was 45%, according to Gallup. A majority – 51% – disapproved of the job he was doing.
23. “I saw a fake poll – a suppression poll in Pennsylvania. I even saw one in Texas. They’re suppression.”
What Trump is suggesting here is that polling that shows him running behind in places like Pennsylvania in Texas are made up in an effort to keep his supporters from turning out. That’s not true, of course. It also makes zero logical sense since the election is 17 months away.
24. “We’re going to win Texas by a lot. We’re going to win Iowa by a lot. We’re going to win, I would say, every – Pennsylvania, I think we’re going to do very well.”
He might win Texas, but it’s not likely to be by “a lot” – especially since he only won in 2016 by 9. Iowa? See above. And Pennsylvania looks like an uphill climb – especially if native son Biden is the Democratic nominee. A Quinnipiac poll released last month showed Biden leading Trump 53%-42% in the Keystone State.
25. “I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un, and I think the relationship is very well.”
Trump says the word “beautiful” a lot. About almost everything.
26. “But I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un. I can’t show you the letter, obviously, but it was a very personal, very warm, very nice letter.”
Me in 8th grade: “I DO SO have a girlfriend. She’s a model and she totally loves me. You can’t meet her. She lives in Montana. She writes me every day. But the letters are private.”
27. “I think North Korea has tremendous potential.”
Trump on North Korea: Huge upside. Very rangy. Plays beyond its years. Good teammate.
28. “Quiet. Quiet. Quiet.”
Just the President shouting down a reporter who is trying to ask a question! Nothing to see here folks! All A-OK!
29. “So we get 90% of our drugs coming in through the southern border, which I think everyone pretty much agrees too.”
Trump is talking – I think – about heroin, not all drugs. But of course, he doesn’t say that. Of course, “everyone pretty much agrees” on that.
30. “And again, the letter he sent was a beautiful letter. It was a very warm letter.”
If we are talking about warm and beautiful letters, this one is right at the top. Many people are saying it. Bigly.
31. “So Iran has got a lot of problems, and I’d like to help them with those problems. We’ll see what happens.”
Yes, yes we will. This feels like a good place to end.